Houston is a major hub for culture, activity and fine cuisine, not to mention two bustling international airports. Plus, the beach is only a short drive away. So if you’re planning a trip and wondering how to travel to Houston on points and miles, we’ve got you covered in this step-by-step guide.
Getting to Houston
The airports serving Houston include:
The George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).
The William P. Hobby Airport (HOU).
IAH is by far the larger of the two and the one you’re most likely to fly in and out of. It may be 20 miles north of the city center, but there are plenty of ways to get to where you want to go after you land. Many hotels offer shuttles, but there are also rideshare apps that serve the airport, buses that will take you to the surrounding area, downtown or between IAH and HOU, plus shuttles to rental car pickup.
Major airlines flying to Houston
Many major national and international airlines fly into IAH and are spread out over five lettered terminals (A-E). The airport serves as a hub for United, so expect to find plenty of flights in and out on that airline. Other airlines that fly into IAH include:
HOU, on the other hand, which is just southeast of the city, hosts only a handful of airlines:
Flying to Houston on points and miles
If you’re looking for a good award flight deal from either of the city’s airports, here’s your points and miles guide to Houston so you can get to booking.
IAH is a large, busy airport offering plenty of domestic and international flights. So you can expect to find a fair amount of direct flights to cities around the country and the world, including on points and miles. Here are some of the award flight sweet spots when traveling to Houston.
United Airlines. Since IAH is a hub for United, expect plenty of flights in and out of the airport to destinations across the Western Hemisphere, from South America to Canada to Hawaii to New York. But to find a good deal on an award flight to Houston on United, your best bet is to be flexible with dates and travel times, since United’s award pricing is based on demand. That said, the airline lists current flight award deals right on its website, and many can be found for as low as 5,000 miles (between Houston and Los Angeles).
Spirit Airlines. The best points and miles for cheap flights to Houston may come courtesy of Spirit’s newly updated Free Spirit award program. Free Spirit allows travelers to fly to Houston from U.S. and international destinations, including San Jose, Costa Rica, for as few as 2,500 points each way. That’s an even better deal when you consider the same destination on American Airlines starts at 10,000 miles. Just remember that the key to finding the best award flight prices on Spirit is flexibility.
HOU may be a smaller airport, but it can still offer cheap and simple ways to get to Houston using points and miles. The short list of airlines, several of which offer limited service beyond certain regions or seasons, means fewer award flight options, but still solid ones.
Southwest Airlines. Southwest offers several options for using points and miles to book an affordable Houston trip. In fact, you can fly one-way from Las Vegas to Houston for as few as 2,510 points and from Seattle to Houston for 4,193 (compare that to a similar award flight on Alaska that requires 10,000 miles each way). As with many other airlines, award prices fluctuate, but cheap award flights can definitely be found.
Consider airline alliances
Remember, too, that because so many airlines fly out of Houston airports, you can often take advantage of airline alliances to make your miles go further by booking award travel with airlines on the same team. KLM, Delta, Air France and Aeromexico are part of SkyTeam; Oneworld brings together Qatar, British Airways and American Airlines; and many of the other international airlines, plus United, are connected through Star Alliance.
Now that you know, you can start planning your Houston trip with points and miles.
Hotels in Houston
No matter where you stay in the city, there are good deals to be had on award bookings. Here’s some guidance on using points to book an affordable Houston hotel stay.
Houston Marriott hotels
Part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the ICON is located in the heart of bustling downtown Houston on lively Main Street. More than just a hotel, it’s a historic structure, originally built in 1911 as the Union National Bank Building. Now, it’s an impressive representation of neoclassical architectural style and elegance. The property features valet parking, the Line & Lariat restaurant and a shiny new full-service spa. Rooms are all class and luxury and range from king rooms with sweeping city views to sprawling executive suites.
Cost to book in points: The Hotel ICON is a Category 5 hotel, and rooms start at 27,000 points per night on off-peak days, 35,000 for standard bookings and 40,000 at peak times. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent per point.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points: Check out the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card from Chase. The card’s current welcome bonus is: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. That’s enough for nearly three free nights at the ICON. Plus, you’ll receive 15 Elite Night Credits and achieve Silver Elite status automatically each year, plus enjoy a free night award every year after your account anniversary, valid for a one-night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points.
If you don’t want to commit to a Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card but you still want Gold status, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also comes with automatic Marriott Gold Status. Plus, 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. Those points can typically be transferred to the Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio.
Houston Hilton hotels
The Sam Houston
Named for the city’s founder, this hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. It’s close to the popular George R. Brown Convention Center, but also more entertaining destinations like the aquarium and the Astros' baseball stadium. Want to explore more of the city? Nearby Preston station will get you there by rail.
Cost to book in points: Rooms start at 28,000 points per night for standard rooms and 61,000 for suites. Hilton doesn’t use a set award chart, so award prices may fluctuate slightly depending on demand, but NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent per point.
Additionally, when you pay for your stay with Hilton Honors points, book four nights and get your fifth night free with no blackout dates.
How to earn Hilton Honors points: Co-branded Hilton Honors credit cards are a great way to really rack up points and other perks. The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with a $0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee and offers the following welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/25/2021. Plus, enjoy $0 intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $95. Offer expires 8/25/2021. Terms Apply. The card also grants immediate Gold status, which offers an 80% bonus on base points and complimentary room upgrades if available. Terms apply.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s welcome offer is as follows: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Plus, you'll get a weekend night award after you join, and then one each year that you renew your card. It also comes with Diamond status, which means you get a 100% bonus on base points so you can earn free stays even faster, plus executive floor lounge access. Keep in mind that these perks come with an upfront cost: the card’s annual fee is $450. Terms apply.
If you want status or the ability to book with points but don’t want to commit to a Hilton Bonvoy-branded credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also comes with automatic Hilton Gold Status. AmEx points can typically be transferred to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio, which means 1 American Express point can be turned into 2 Hilton points. Terms apply.
» Learn more: Hilton Honors: The complete guide
Houston Hyatt hotels
Hyatt House Houston/Galleria
Extended-stay hotels are excellent for those who plan to stay for more than a night or two and expect to do a fair amount of work, cooking or lounging in their room. And the Hyatt House Houston/Galleria is no exception. Rooms feature kitchens, sofas, desks and more. The hotel offers amenities like on-site dining at H Bar and a complimentary grocery shopping service, and is just a short drive to Houston’s lively Museum District.
Cost to book in points: The Hyatt House Houston/Galleria is the most spacious Category 1 Hyatt hotel close to the city center. Rooms start at 5,000 points per night. Or you can book a premium suite, like a two-bedroom king suite, for 10,000 points per night. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents per point.
How to earn Hyatt points: For the most World of Hyatt points in the least amount of time, check out the World of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase. 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. The card comes with a $95 annual fee, but benefits include a free night every year after your cardmember anniversary and five qualifying nights toward the next status level every year.
The bottom line
We hope we’ve simplified how to get to Houston with points and miles in 2021, and offered a better idea of how to get there, how many points and miles you’ll need and how to go farther for less in Texas’ largest city. There are plenty of airlines to choose from for your flight to Houston, but IAH will offer more options than HOU. Accommodation options are likewise ample, making Houston a worthy destination for spending your points and miles this year.
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