If you’re looking for warmer weather but don’t want to travel too far from the U.S., you’ve got several options just south of the border in Mexico. One of those is Puerto Vallarta, which is on the west coast of Mexico. Here’s what you need to know about getting to Puerto Vallarta using travel points and miles for a low-cost Mexico getaway.
Getting to Puerto Vallarta
When flying into Puerto Vallarta, you only have one main commercial airport: Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport, or PVR. From PVR, it’s a short five-minute ride to the Marina area, 10 to 15 minutes to places in the Hotel Zone and about 30 minutes to the Malecón and Romantic Zone.
At the airport, you’ll find three Priority Pass lounges. One is located airside, in Hall A near the food court, another is near arrivals after customs and one is by International Gates 8 and 10.
Navigating the PVR airport can be confusing, especially for first-time visitors. After passing through customs, you’ll need to (quickly) get through an area filled with timeshare salespeople. You may be offered free rides, tours or other items. Our recommendation is to ignore the offers and pass through the area as quickly as possible.
After exiting, you’ll want to find the official taxi counters (identifiable by the large "Taxi" signs) and purchase a ticket to the zone of your hotel or lodging. Then, head outside to catch your taxi, ticket in hand. If you've prearranged private transportation, look for your ride.
Major airlines flying to Puerto Vallarta
You’ll find nonstop flights to Puerto Vallarta from all corners of the U.S., including major cities like Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Houston, Chicago, Atlanta and New York. So even if you don’t live in a city with a nonstop flight, you’re probably just a short connecting flight away.
You’ll also have a decent mix of airlines to pick from depending on your location. All of the major U.S. airlines, including Alaska, American, Delta, Southwest and United, fly to Puerto Vallarta.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Flying to Puerto Vallarta on points and miles
You’ll have an easier time getting to Puerto Vallarta on points and miles from the West Coast and central parts of the country (such as Denver and Houston) than elsewhere. East Coast travelers also have options, but may opt for vacation spots in the Caribbean or Cancun, Mexico, which tend to be easier to get to from there.
All flights, even award bookings, require that you pay taxes and fees, which usually come out to around $110 round-trip. Here are more award travel tips for Puerto Vallarta, broken down by airline:
You’ll find cheap rates and good award flight options on Southwest to Puerto Vallarta, especially on nonstop routes from Phoenix, Denver, Houston-Hobby and Orange County. These can often be had for around 4,500 to 6,200 points one way.
Even if you aren’t coming from a nonstop city, check connecting flights from your home airport. You can often snag one-way award flights with your Rapid Rewards points for 7,410 to 10,140 points during shoulder season (October/November and April/May/June).
If you’re bargain hunting and flexible on departure dates, you can find Alaska award flights as low as 17,500 miles one way, regardless of the flight distance. If your departure city is close by, you can get that down to 15,000 or even 10,000 miles in the main cabin.
If you want to splurge (responsibly), first class tickets can be found for as little as 30,000 points one way, although the price can often double that during peak times. Use the Alaska Airlines booking tool to check various times and see how the award prices change for your potential dates.
Delta Air Lines
We found Delta flights priced as low as 5,000 SkyMiles one way from West Coast cities (Los Angeles, Seattle) if you can be flexible on your departure dates. If you’re not near one of the low-priced airports feeding Puerto Vallarta, you should expect to pay around 10,000 to 17,000 SkyMiles for a one-way ticket in basic economy. You can even get there all the way from New York for just 17,000 miles.
American works off an award chart, so it's easy to figure out exactly how many miles you need to get to Puerto Vallarta. In the main cabin, you’ll need just 12,500 miles for a one-way MileSAAver off-peak award or 15,000 for a standard award.
If you’re looking for business or first class tickets, you can snag MileSAAver awards starting at 25,000 miles one way.
United doesn’t have an award chart, so your flight price will vary by departure city and time of year. But you can usually find one-way economy flights to Puerto Vallarta for 17,500 miles from most major cities.
» Learn more: The best airlines to fly during COVID-19
Hotels on points in Puerto Vallarta
In Puerto Vallarta you have four main sections of the city to stay in:
Marina Vallarta (north, closest to the airport).
The Hotel Zone (south of the Marina).
The Downtown Zone (farther south).
The Romantic Zone (southern end of the city).
Here are some good options for redeeming points for a stay with the major hotel brands.
Marriott hotels in Puerto Vallarta
Marriott Bonvoy members have the best selection in Puerto Vallarta, with three reasonably priced resorts to choose from (as opposed to just a single Hilton and a single Hyatt).
Both resorts offer amenities you’d expect at a Mexico resort:
Large resort pools.
Several on-site dining options.
Outside of personal taste, the one major difference is location. The Westin is in the Marina area, which will require a cab to get down to the city center of Puerto Vallarta or the Malecon Boardwalk. The Sheraton, on the other hand, is walkable to much of the city center and downtown area thanks to its more central location at the south end of the Hotel Zone.
Cost to book in points
Award nights at these Category 5 hotels range from 30,000 to 40,000 points per night. If you have 35,000-point free night certificates, you can use them at either location during standard or off-peak dates. Plus, any 50,000-point certificates can be used year-round, although you can likely get better value for that certificate at a Category 6 hotel like the Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa.
NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent per point. Check the cash price for rooms before booking with Bonvoy points. Sometimes rates can be incredibly affordable and you may opt to pay cash (and earn points) rather than redeem them.
You’ll still be on the hook for the $20-per-day resort fee at the Westin. The Sheraton Buganvilias doesn't charge a resort fee. Don’t forget about Marriott’s fifth night free on award bookings benefit: If you book a five-night stay, you’ll need points to cover only four of them.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
If you want to snag a new Marriott credit card to help fund your trip, you’ve got several options. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card has a $95 annual fee and you’ll get the following welcome offer: 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.
Plus, you earn Marriott Bonvoy points on every purchase and you get a 35,000-point free night certificate every year on your account anniversary, which you can use at either the Westin or the Sheraton if you plan your Puerto Vallarta trip far enough in advance.
You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards (at a 2:3 ratio) and Chase Ultimate Rewards® (1:1 ratio) to your Marriott account to help with an award booking. But check the pricing in Chase’s or AmEx’s travel portal first. You may score a better deal booking with your flexible points as opposed to Bonvoy points, depending on how the pricing varies for your travel time.
Hilton hotels in Puerto Vallarta (Hotel Zone)
Your only choice for a Hilton stay is the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. The Hilton is an all-inclusive hotel with 12 dining and drinking options on site. You’ll pay extra for rooms with more than two guests (whether paying in cash or points) so make sure you give an accurate headcount when you book your reservation. Also, extra fees will apply for kids, even if you book with points. Because this is an all-inclusive resort, your free night reward is not good at this location.
Cost to book in points
Prices will vary depending on your travel dates, but award nights start around 37,000 points per night and go up from there. It is worth the time to search for different dates in your travel window to find the best deal.
How to earn Hilton Honors points
If you need to rack up some Hilton points, you can earn them quickly with either the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card or Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cards which come with the following welcome offers:
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card ($0 intro for the first year, then $95 annual fee): 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.
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ($450 annual fee): 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.
NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent each.
You can transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio, which makes The Platinum Card® from American Express an excellent option as well. This card also comes with Gold status at Hilton. Terms apply.
Hyatt hotels in Puerto Vallarta (south of the Romantic Zone)
You’ll find only one Hyatt hotel in Puerto Vallarta, the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, an all-inclusive resort. Also, this property is an outlier and sits even further south, beyond the Romantic Zone.
Cost to book in points
As a Category 5 hotel, this Hyatt has standard rooms starting at 20,000 points per night and suites starting at 32,000 points. These base rates are good for two guests.
You’ll have a much more difficult time finding an award night if you’ve got more than two people in a room (including kids), so factor that in when deciding if this is the right location for your trip and a good use of your World of Hyatt points.
How to earn Hyatt points
If you need World of Hyatt points to book your all-inclusive stay, you’ve got two main options including the World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee) which comes with the following welcome offer: 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 your Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. This is one of the best ways to get good value with Ultimate RewardsⓇ points, as NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents each.
Other options: Choice Hotels in Puerto Vallarta (Hotel Zone)
Choice Hotels has three all-inclusive properties in the Hotel Zone.
Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa: Starts at 35,000 points per night depending on the time of the year.
Now Amber Puerto Vallarta: Starts at 60,000 points per night depending on the time of year and day of the week.
Secrets Vallarta Bay Puerto Vallarta: Adults only. This hotels costs 35,000 to 100,000 points per night depending on the time of year. Travel mid-April through the end of June for significant savings on award stays.
How to earn Choice points
You can earn Choice points by signing up for and using the Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card, or you can transfer points from your American Express Membership Rewards account.
» Learn more: The best hotel credit cards right now
The bottom line
With a variety of airlines to choose from, if you’re a Pacific, Mountain or Central time zone traveler looking for a sunny getaway to Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is worth considering for your next trip on points and miles. East Coasters will need to pony up a bit more to get there, but once you’ve arrived, you’ll have plenty of solid hotel options.
If you’re looking for an all-inclusive option, you can lean toward either the Hilton or Hyatt, depending on your location preference. Otherwise, target a Marriott award stay at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center for the best redemption of Bonvoy points, plus a great location.
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