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Maybe you’re looking to witness firsthand one of the biggest rivalries in football between the University of Michigan and Ohio State Buckeyes. Or maybe you’re thinking of taking in the North American International Car Show or exploring the Great Lakes.
No matter your plans, the Motor City has a lot to offer if you know how to get to Detroit with points and miles in 2021. Here, step by step, is your points and miles guide to Detroit.
Getting to Detroit
You’ll probably arrive at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, which is located about 21 miles away from the city center.
Once you land at DTW, you can rent a vehicle, hop in a taxi, book a rideshare or use public transportation to get downtown.
Major airlines flying to Detroit
DTW is a Delta Air Lines hub, so Delta has the largest presence in Detroit. But there are other airlines that service the airport as well, like:
Airfare sweet spots when flying to Detroit
The number of miles you need for a flight to Detroit will vary based on your departure city, airline, season and demand.
But there are a few tricks you can use to find the best points and miles for cheap flights to Detroit. For example, if Delta SkyMiles doesn’t offer good deals on your dates, you can use Air France Flying Blue miles or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to book the same Delta flights with potentially a better deal.
But check Delta first. The airline sometimes has fantastic flash sales that could make using Delta SkyMiles a great value for flying to Detroit.
Book a Delta flight using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points
The number of Virgin Atlantic points you’ll need for a seat on a Delta flight is based on the distance you’re flying. Costs are for each segment of your trip, so nonstop routes are usually the best value for your Virgin Atlantic points.
For example, if you’re flying from Chicago, the flight to Detroit is about 245 miles, and based on Virgin Atlantic's award chart, an economy class seat for this trip would cost 7,500 miles each way, plus taxes and fees.
Book a Delta flight using Air France Flying Blue miles
Flying Blue doesn't have an award chart, so the number of miles you'll need for a flight on Delta will vary. For example, flying from New York-JFK to Detroit on July 24 will cost 11,500 miles, plus taxes.
While flying from Los Angeles to Detroit on the same day costs 14,500 miles, plus taxes.
If your travel dates are flexible, search a few different date ranges. Even if your dates are set, a search for alternate dates will give you an idea of whether you’re using the best points and miles for an affordable flight to Detroit.
Book a Delta flight using Delta SkyMiles
Delta award prices will vary based on date, demand and other factors. At times, Delta SkyMiles can offer great award prices to visit Detroit.
For example, a July 24 Delta flight from New York-JFK to Detroit would cost 7,500 miles in basic economy or 11,000 miles in the main cabin. What's more, the taxes and fees are lower than you would pay if you booked this flight with Flying Blue miles.
Travel credit cards to help rack up points and miles fast
If you’re using miles and points to book an affordable Detroit trip, the right credit card could be extremely helpful.
Delta credit cards
Several Delta Air Lines credit cards can help you earn SkyMiles for your trip to Detroit. They include the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card and Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card.
Chase credit cards
A rewards credit card not tied to any one airline, like a card that pays Chase Ultimate Rewards® or American Express Membership Rewards points, can get you greater flexibility for booking a Detroit trip, which can mean savings. That’s because these points can be redeemed for travel directly through Chase or American Express, or you can transfer them to airline partner programs.
For example, if you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could get a stack of bonus points. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Chase doesn’t partner with Delta, so you can’t convert your Ultimate Rewards® points into SkyMiles, but Chase does partner with Air France and Virgin Atlantic.
As we saw above, those two airlines’ points can be redeemed for Delta flights to Detroit.
Before you transfer your Chase points to another airline, see if you can get a better deal by booking a flight in the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal.
AmEx credit cards
If you get an American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Membership Rewards points you earn can be converted into Delta SkyMiles. Plus, American Express points also transfer to Air France and Virgin Atlantic, and are redeemable for flights through AmEx. So you have even more options to compare costs and get the best deal. Terms apply.
Lounges at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
Lounge access is a fantastic benefit to make your travel experience more enjoyable. If you have a Priority Pass membership, either paid or as a perk of a credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you’ll find one Priority Pass lounge option in DTW. The Lufthansa Business Lounge in the North Terminal offers Priority Pass members food, beverages and space to work or relax while you wait for your flight.
Delta has four Sky Club lounges throughout the airport. You can get in if you’re flying Delta in a premium cabin, have top-level elite status in Delta’s frequent flyer program or if you have one of several premium American Express cards.
» Learn more: Delta Air Lines SkyMiles program: The complete guide
The best Detroit hotels on points
Detroit has a lot of great accommodations for every budget. Here are some favorites for hotels to book with points in Detroit.
Detroit Marriott hotels
Westin Book Cadillac Detroit
Visiting Detroit to take in a sporting event? The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit is downtown, about a half-mile from Comerica Park and Ford Field. Built in 1924 as the tallest hotel in the world, this 33-story luxury property has a fitness studio, indoor lap pool and the only Starbucks Reserve store in the downtown area. The on-site steakhouse, Roast, is helmed by famed chef Michael Symon.
Cost to book with points: An award night at Westin Book Cadillac costs around 30,000 to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points: The easiest way to accumulate Marriott points is with its co-branded credit cards. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card comes with an annual certificate good for an award night at Bonvoy properties costing 35,000 points or less. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card has a free night award good at properties costing 85,000 points or less. Terms apply.
If you have The Platinum Card® from American Express, you automatically enjoy Gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, which gets you extra perks at this Westin. Terms apply.
Detroit Hilton hotels
Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Downtown
Located in Greektown near the Opera House, Comerica Park, Ford Field and the Fillmore, the Hilton Garden Inn Detroit Downtown caters to business travelers with a 24-hour business center, meeting rooms, audiovisual equipment rental, and printing and photocopying services. Guests enjoy free Wi-Fi, a fitness center, a lounge, laundry services and an on-site restaurant.
Cost to book with points: An award night here starts at around 34,000 Hilton Honors points per night, but can cost more when demand goes up. If you’re booking with points, Hilton’s fifth-night-free benefit gets you five award nights here for the price of four.
How to earn Hilton points: Hilton points are easy to earn with co-branded credit cards. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with complimentary Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, and you can earn the higher Hilton Diamond status after spending $40,000 in a calendar year. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card gives customers Hilton Diamond status and an annual weekend night certificate after renewing your card. Terms apply.
If you don't want a Hilton co-branded credit card, but would like status benefits, then a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express could be what you need. It comes with Hilton Gold status as one of its benefits. Terms apply.
Hyatt doesn’t have any properties right in Detroit. The nearest Hyatt, the Hyatt Place Detroit Royal Oak, is about 12 miles away in an area that offers its own things to see and do not too far from the big city.
Hyatt Place Detroit/Royal Oak
The Hyatt Place Detroit/Royal Oak is convenient to the Royal Oak Music Theatre and Stagecrafters theater. Guests here can sample the suds at nearby breweries or experience the cuisine at an array of trendy bistros. A stay at this pet-friendly hotel includes free breakfast, digital key access and free internet access.
Cost to book in points: This Hyatt Place is a Category 2 property in the World of Hyatt program, meaning you can get a room for only 8,000 points per night.
How to earn Hyatt points: The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers an easy way to earn points toward a stay. Or if you have Chase Ultimate Rewards® points from a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, transferring those points to the World of Hyatt program can be a good strategy for using your points to book an affordable Detroit trip.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allows customers to redeem their points for hotel stays at a rate of 1.25 cents per point, giving you another way to book.
Or, as an alternative, the Citi Premier® Card gives you an annual benefit of $100 off a hotel stay of $500 or more. Further, the Citi Prestige® Card has a fourth-night-free benefit on hotels booked through the Citi travel portal — a perk you can use twice per year.
» Learn more: Chase Ultimate Rewards®: How to earn and use them
The bottom line
Finding cheap and simple ways to get to Detroit using points and miles is easier than you may think. From multiple airlines offering award flight options to Marriott and Hilton properties offering award pricing in downtown Detroit, there are so many ways to visit Detroit while saving money in the process.
All information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Citi Prestige® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card