How to Travel to Phoenix on Points and Miles

This desert destination has a major airport and cool boutique hotels that you can book with points.

Kendra CollinsMay 25, 2021
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With an average of 300 sunny days a year, there’s no question that Phoenix is hot. And with its abundance of up-and-coming art galleries, famous midcentury architecture and inventive cuisine, Phoenix is also an oasis of cool. Of course, Phoenix is also known for high-end spas, inviting golf courses and incredible hikes.

When you add dozens of charismatic hotels and resorts with an array of flight options, Phoenix is an ideal destination for a vacation. Consider this your step-by-step guide on how to travel to Phoenix with points and miles in 2021.

Getting to Phoenix

Nearest airports

Located 3 miles east of downtown, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) is Arizona’s largest and busiest airport.

Major airlines flying to Phoenix

PHX is a hub for American Airlines and a base for Southwest Airlines. It is served by 20 airlines in total, including:

With 1,200 daily flights, there are lots of great options to PHX from major cities all around the country. Some of the least expensive and most plentiful flight options are on Southwest, American and United, so these airlines offer the best points and miles for cheap flights to Phoenix.

Flying to Phoenix on points and miles

The chart below displays a snapshot of prices for the same dates across the three different airlines, so you can get a general idea of how many points you might need for a trip. Spoiler alert: There are lots of cheap and simple ways to get to Phoenix.

Departing city

Southwest Rapid Rewards points

American AAdvantage miles

United MileagePlus miles

New York

16,366

23,500 (economy) 34,500 (first)

30,000 (economy) 80,000 (first)

San Francisco

13,726

20,000 (economy) 31,500 (first)

17,000 (economy) 51,000 (first)

Los Angeles

7,922

15,000 (economy) 22,500 (first)

10,000 (economy) 51,000 (first)

Chicago

20,836

20,000 (economy) 45,500 (first)

25,000 (economy) 64,000 (first)

Dallas/Forth Worth

19,386

20,000 (economy) 39,000 (first)

25,000 (economy) 62,000 (first)

Seattle

9,736

21,500 (economy) 31,500 (first)

27,500 (economy) 56,500 (first)

Denver

16,194

20,000 (economy) 30,000 (first)

21,000 (economy) 51,000 (first)

Minneapolis/St. Paul

10,199

20,000 (economy) 31,500 (first)

27,500 (economy) 62,000 (first)

As you look at your flight options, check out Southwest Airlines first. It consistently offers the least expensive rates for booking award flights to Phoenix.

Getting to and from the city

Once you’ve landed, there are many different ways to get from the airport to the city, including rideshares, taxis, shuttles and public transportation.

An inexpensive option for getting to downtown Phoenix from the airport is to take the free Sky Train connection from Terminal 3 or 4 to the light rail. Hop on the light rail for $2, then get off at 44th Street and Washington Avenue. It takes about 20 minutes to get from the airport to the heart of the city. After planning your Phoenix trip, this is a great way to keep the savings going.

Hotels on points in Phoenix

When it comes to hotels in Phoenix, visitors are spoiled for choice. From swanky to eclectic to budget, there are many standout options across the board. Here are a few hotels to book with points in Phoenix that we think are especially great.

Phoenix Marriott hotels

The Camby Hotel

Located in the upscale Biltmore neighborhood next to Camelback Mountain, this eclectic boutique hotel was No. 2 on Conde Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards for the Southwest and West for 2020.

Cost to book in points: The Camby is a Category 5 hotel, which means that rooms start at 35,000 points for standard rates. During off-peak times, rooms cost 30,000 points, and at peak times they’re 40,000 points.

NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent each, so do the math to make sure you’re getting the value you want out of your stay. In other words, if rooms are going for $200/night, you might want to pay cash instead of spending 35,000 points, which NerdWallet would value at $315.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

  • The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card offers the following welcome bonus: 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.

  • Another option is the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, which also offers a welcome bonus: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card allow you to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio.

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express also lets you transfer points to the Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio. Terms apply.

Nerdy tip: If you want Gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, but don’t want to commit to a Marriott Bonvoy-branded credit card, The Platinum Card® from American Express is worth considering.

If you're on the fence about which Marriott Bonvoy credit card to choose, this deep-dive comparison can help.

Hilton hotels in Phoenix

The Boulders

Photo courtesy of Hilton

The Boulders could be described as a “haute hippie” location as it’s a truly decadent resort in the middle of some pretty spectacular nature.

Cost to book in points: Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but rooms at the Boulders start at 64,000 points per night and go up from there, depending on room type and time of year.

The Boulders has a daily resort fee of $35, which covers basic guest internet access, fitness center access, fitness classes, gratuities for bell service, concierge and shuttle drivers, club storage, local and toll-free calls, and on-property shuttle use. Note that Hilton will typically waive resort fees on award stays.

The Arizona Biltmore

The Arizona Biltmore is an iconic property that’s known for its luxury and grandeur. Built by Albert Chase McArthur and Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s one of America’s classic hotels. It’s also the birthplace of the Tequila Sunrise cocktail. For a bit of history, sample the original at the hotel’s Wright Bar.

Nerdy tip: Rent a pool cabana. In addition to a guaranteed shady spot at the pool, you’ll get personal service, a minifridge and a flat-screen TV.

Cost to book in points: Standard rooms at the Arizona Biltmore typically cost 64,000 points. There’s a daily resort fee, but if you book on points, this is usually waived. The fee includes complimentary bike rentals, bottled waters daily, Biltmore golf and lawn games, and access to the fitness center, Wi-Fi and the digital newspaper.

NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each. When you’re deciding whether to use points or pay cash, do the math to decide which is more valuable to you.

How to earn Hilton Honors points

  • American Express offers a suite of co-branded Hilton cards with various welcome bonuses. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also features one weekend night reward when you first get the card and every year after renewal. Terms apply.

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express lets you transfer points to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio, which means that 1 American Express point can be turned into 2 Hilton Honors points. Terms apply.

Nerdy tip: The Platinum Card® from American Express is good to have if you want Gold status in the Hilton Honors program, but don’t want to commit to a Hilton-branded credit card.

If you're stuck between these hotel credit card options, read our advice on figuring out which Hilton credit card to get.

Hyatt hotels in Phoenix

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows

Photo courtesy of Hyatt

The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows is known for its connection to the nearby Cattle Track Arts Compound, which is a collection of working artist studios. Artists-in-residence work in mediums ranging from pottery and photography to fiber and visual arts. Furthering the arts theme, the resort also offers “Create and Cultivate” experiences for guests in music, art, nature and community, such as a sunset photography course and a sound healing.

Cost to book in points: The Andaz Scottsdale Resort and Bungalows is a Category 6 resort, which means that rooms start at 25,000 points per night. There’s a daily resort fee of $39, but Hyatt typically waives resort fees on award bookings, which can make using points even more valuable. The fee includes a variety of perks, including complimentary house car drop-off service within a 3-mile radius, fitness classes, access to Cattle Track Art Compound, a seasonal welcome beverage and more.

The Royal Palms Resort

The Royal Palms Resort is a Spanish colonial mansion located at the foot of Camelback Mountain. Built in 1929, the resort features luxurious special touches like Oriental rugs and art, which make it feel like a private estate.

Cost to book in points: The Royal Palms is a Category 6 property, so standard rooms start at 25,000 points a night.

The daily resort fee is $35, which includes a long list of goodies, including mixology classes for handcrafted seasonal cocktails in the Mix Up Bar and even a hiking kit. This kit includes bottled water, a granola bar, sunscreen, insect repellent, trail maps and a backpack. Remember that Hyatt typically waives resort fees on award bookings, so booking this property on points can add extra value.

NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents apiece, so do some quick calculations to determine if it's wiser to book using points or cash.

How to earn Hyatt points

  • The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers the following to new cardholders: 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.

  • You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.

Nerdy tip: If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, it always pays to check the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal to see if you can book flights or hotels for less. Sometimes you can save a lot of points by booking directly through the portal.

If you travel to Phoenix this year

Using miles and points to book an affordable trip to Phoenix can be easy when you follow these handy tips. The abundance of flight and hotel options, combined with the great variety of vacation experiences in Phoenix, can make for an inviting, inexpensive trip for the points-savvy traveler.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.


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:

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