From lounging for a week on white sand beaches to exploring before or after a cruise, there are plenty of reasons to visit Fort Lauderdale. One way or another, your trip is likely to focus on water. The self-proclaimed "Venice of America" has a whopping 165 miles of waterways and 50,000 registered yachts in the city.
All of those beaches and yachts might make you think Fort Lauderdale is an expensive destination, but there are ways to use points and miles to book an affordable trip there. From flights to hotel options, let's show you how to travel to Fort Lauderdale on points and miles.
Getting to Fort Lauderdale
Across South Florida, three airports are located within 50 miles of Fort Lauderdale:
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
Miami International Airport (MIA) — around 20 miles away.
Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) — around 40 miles away.
FLL is likely going to be the most convenient option for a visit to Fort Lauderdale proper; however, if you're renting a car anyways, check flight prices to Miami or Palm Beach to see if they're more affordable.
FLL has an on-site rental car center with 12 companies from which to choose. The rental car center is closest to Terminal 1, but there's a bus for those who don't want to huff it on foot from Terminals 2-4. If you're headed to Port Everglades, you'll want to grab a taxi or rideshare. A one-way fare on either should cost around $20.
Major airlines flying into Fort Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport doesn't have a single dominant airline. In 2019 — before the pandemic hit — the five airlines with the most passengers in/out of Fort Lauderdale Airport were:
Many of these airlines are low-cost carriers, but the best way to fly anywhere is on the cheap. So, let's take a look at the best points and miles for cheap flights to Fort Lauderdale.
Flying to Fort Lauderdale on points and miles
With so many airline options, there are many ways to get to Fort Lauderdale with points and miles in 2021.
Spirit award flights to Fort Lauderdale
Spirit Airlines recently relaunched its mileage program. Where Spirit's old mileage program lacked value, the new Free Spirit program pleasantly surprised us. The mileage cost for a flight varies on the route and day, but Free Spirit flights start at just 2,500 points each way. That's even true for cross-country flights, like from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale.
The Free Spirit® Travel More Mastercard® currently offers this sign-up bonus: Earn 40,000 Bonus Points + a $100 Companion Flight Voucher after spending at least $1,000 on purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. That's enough to book up to 16 one-way flights if you're able to maximize it with 2,500-point flights.
JetBlue award flights to Fort Lauderdale
Like Spirit, JetBlue's TrueBlue program also loosely ties its reward cost to cash prices. If your dates are flexible enough, you could fly cross-country for 5,500 points each way; however, shorter, more-expensive flights can cost more points.
For flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale, you can even splurge for JetBlue Mint — the airline's unique lie-flat first-class seats. However, you're going to need a stash of JetBlue TrueBlue points to be able to book it. Mint fares into Fort Lauderdale start at 46,500 points each way.
If you need to top off your TrueBlue account, you can transfer points from all five major transferable points currencies:
Southwest award flights to Fort Lauderdale
Southwest is the third-largest airline in Fort Lauderdale. Like Spirit and JetBlue, Southwest rewards prices depend on the date and flight. However, Southwest direct pegs its mileage cost to the cash price of its flights — and there's no floor to how cheap Southwest flights can get. For example, you can fly from Atlanta to Fort Lauderdale for just 5,020 points round-trip.
If you need extra Rapid Rewards points to top off your account, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Southwest at a 1:1 transfer ratio. Or, transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at a 3:1 transfer ratio, plus a 5,000-point bonus for transferring 60,000 Bonvoy points.
Hotels in Fort Lauderdale
South Florida is rich in beautiful hotels. Here are some hotels you can book with points in Fort Lauderdale.
Marriott offers an impressive 20+ hotels within 5 miles of the center of Fort Lauderdale. These range from two Category 4 hotels to a spectacular Category 7 Ritz-Carlton.
W Fort Lauderdale
If you want to splurge on a luxury stay and the Ritz-Carlton is a bit too rich for your Bonvoy balance, the W Fort Lauderdale might be the right fit for you. This swanky beachside hotel just emerged from a $55 million renovation, and puts you right in the middle of it all on Fort Lauderdale Beach. That makes it a great option for redeeming a 50,000-point Free Night Award.
Cost to book in points: As a Category 6, rooms start at 40,000 points per night for standard rates, 50,000 during off-peak nights and 60,000 during peak nights. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent per point.
Element Fort Lauderdale Downtown
Although designed as an extended-stay hotel, the Element Fort Lauderdale Downtown is a great option for those looking for an active vacation. You can rent bikes from the hotel to explore downtown Fort Lauderdale, and then cool down in the hotel's infinity pool. In addition to a complimentary breakfast, each Element room features a fully equipped kitchen. That makes it great for those looking to cut down on eating out or who follow a particular diet.
Cost to book in points: As a Category 5, rooms start at 35,000 points per night for standard rates, 30,000 during off-peak nights and 40,000 during peak nights.
Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel
If you're looking for a place to crash for a night before a cruise, the Renaissance Fort Lauderdale Cruise Port Hotel is going to be your best option using Marriott points. It's one of the most luxurious Category 5 hotels in the area. Plus, you'll be just a few miles from the cruise terminals, while still in a vibrant Fort Lauderdale canal district.
Cost to book in points: The Category 5 hotel has rooms that start at 35,000 points per night for standard rates, 30,000 during off-peak nights and 40,000 during peak nights.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
Most Marriott hotels in Fort Lauderdale are Category 5. That makes it a great place for Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card customers to maximize their card perks. This $95 annual fee card offers an anniversary Free Night Award for a reward night costing up to 35,000 points. And 35,000 points is the exact cost of a standard night at a Category 5 hotel. So if you get the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, you'll save on a stay in Fort Lauderdale.
If you want to upgrade your stay, but don’t want to commit to a Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. After enrolling in this perk, you'll be upgraded to Marriott Gold Elite status. Plus, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to the Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio. Terms apply.
Hilton has more than 15 hotels in the Fort Lauderdale area, offering everything from practical stays to luxurious beachfront getaways.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Fort Lauderdale-17th Street
For a centrally located and family-friendly stay near the Fort Lauderdale port, the Embassy Suites is a great option. The hotel is located under 15 minutes from both the airport and the cruise terminal. It offers a kid-friendly pool, and guests can enjoy a free cooked-to-order breakfast daily. Best of all, you can book one of the two-room suites for as few as 27,000 Hilton Honors points per night:
Cost to book in points: Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but rooms tend to cost between 27,000 and 60,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent per point.
Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach
If you're seeking luxury, the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach is a top choice. This all-suite hotel is right on Fort Lauderdale Beach and comes with such amenities as beach staff service and morning yoga sessions. Large 650-square-foot junior suites are even bookable with points. These suites come with a kitchenette in case you tire of the five on-site restaurants.
Cost to book in points: Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but rooms tend to cost between 65,000 and 95,000 points per night.
How to earn Hilton Honors points
Fort Lauderdale can be expensive for using Hilton Honors points, so you'll want to earn free Hilton nights before your trip. The best way of doing so is through Hilton credit cards.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card grants cardmembers a Free Weekend Night Award when you get the card and then each cardmember anniversary. Meanwhile, Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card members can earn a Free Weekend Night Reward by spending $15,000 in eligible purchases in a calendar year. Terms apply.
Both of those cards also come with elite status. Or, you can get Hilton Gold elite status through The Platinum Card® from American Express. The card is currently offering this welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Since Membership Rewards points can be transferred to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio, you can convert that welcome bonus into a nice trove of Hilton Honors points.
Of the three major brands, Hyatt has the smallest footprint in Fort Lauderdale. There are only a handful of Hyatt options, but it's a well-rounded bunch.
Hyatt House Fort Lauderdale Airport - South & Cruise Port
The Hyatt House Fort Lauderdale Airport is perfect for a practical stay before or after a cruise, as you'll be close to both the airport and the cruise terminals. Plus, the hotel offers a free airport shuttle, complimentary fresh breakfast and a fully equipped kitchen in every suite.
Cost to book in points: As a Category 3, rooms start at 12,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents per point.
Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale
If you want to stay in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, you have a higher-end option for just a few more Hyatt points per night. The Hyatt Centric Las Olas Fort Lauderdale can be a launchpad for exploring nearby attractions like the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale and Museum of Discovery and Science, both within a half-mile radius of the hotel.
Cost to book in points: As a Category 4, rooms start at 15,000 points per night.
How to earn Hyatt points
A great way to build your Hyatt point balance is by getting the World of Hyatt Credit Card. The current sign-up bonus is: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent. That's enough for four nights at the Hyatt Centric Fort Lauderdale or five nights at the Hyatt House Fort Lauderdale Airport.
Or, top off your World of Hyatt account using your Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, as these points transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. That makes the current sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card another tool for planning your Fort Lauderdale trip with points and miles.
Visiting Fort Lauderdale with points and miles
From plenty of airline options to dozens of hotels, there are many cheap and simple ways to get to Fort Lauderdale using points and miles.
Depending on your style of travel, you can book a 2,500-point flight into Fort Lauderdale on Spirit and a Hyatt House stay with a free airport shuttle and breakfast for just 12,000 points a night. Or, you can splurge with 46,500 TrueBlue points for JetBlue Mint and 95,000 points a night for the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach.
All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire 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 2021, 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