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San Jose, California, is a major city on the southern end of the San Francisco Bay Area and the third-largest city in the state. The city and the surrounding area are perhaps best known as Silicon Valley, the technology and business hub. However, there are plenty of other reasons to visit, including outdoor recreation, museums, shopping and the city’s year-round moderate climate.
The gateway to this region is San Jose International Airport, but other airports nearby are worth considering, too. Here’s what you need to know when planning your San Jose trip with points and miles.
San Jose is served primarily by San Jose International Airport, but there are other airports in the region you may want to consider when shopping around for flight availability and good deals:
San Jose International Airport, SJC, is 4.5 miles from downtown San Jose.
San Francisco International Airport, SFO, is 40 miles north.
Oakland International Airport, OAK, is 35 miles north.
Sonoma County Airport, STS, is 106 miles north.
If you fly into any airport outside San Jose, the easiest way to get around could be a rental car. Shuttle bus services are available in the area as well. For those who fly directly into SJC and want to stay in the area, all of the typical options, including rental cars, public transit, taxis and shuttles, are available.
Major airlines flying to San Jose International Airport
If you’re willing to drive a bit, San Francisco International Airport serves more flights and airlines than San Jose. However, the convenience of flying right into town is tough to beat, particularly when you consider Bay Area traffic.
Here are the airlines that fly directly to SJC, which often make these the best points and miles for cheap flights to San Jose:
Flying to San Jose on points and miles
The best points options often come from general points earning cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express. These cards can cover the cost of flights and hotels, which make credit cards like these useful for booking an affordable San Jose trip.
San Jose directly serves 30 destinations in the U.S. and Mexico. If you’re coming from any major city in the U.S., there’s likely nonstop service. Further, Southwest connects San Jose to other California airports, including Burbank, Orange County, Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Depending on where you live, Southwest may offer the cheapest flights to get to San Jose on points. The airline charges flyers points based on the cost of the airfare. Check out regional cities, like Boise, Idaho; Denver; Portland, Oregon; Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada; to find affordable nonstop award flights to San Jose.
Other major airlines
Even if you can’t get there nonstop, service from American Airlines, Delta, United and Southwest gives you access to their huge route networks with a single layover. You can find an award flight to San Jose on any major airline alliances if you’re looking to use miles from a favorite airline or credit card.
Another way to get to San Jose is using British Airways miles. While London isn’t on the nonstop list, codeshare flights on British Airways use a distance-based award chart for partner flights, including American Airlines.
Hotels to book with points in San Jose
As a large U.S. city, San Jose offers plenty of hotel options to book with points. If you use one of the big hotel rewards programs, this is what you’ll want to know, along with some popular and unique hotels to book with points.
Marriott operates more than 100 hotels in and around San Jose. In central San Jose, you can find high-end options, like the Westin San Jose and San Jose Marriott or one of Marriott’s lower-cost brands. Most hotels in the area fall into Category 4 or Category 5 on Marriott's award chart. Depending on when you book, you should plan on anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 points for a night around San Jose, depending on the hotel category and whether you hit the peak or off-peak season.
The new Tetra Hotel in nearby Sunnyvale (Category 5) and Hotel Nia in Menlo Park (Category 6) are part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection and offer a more unique luxury stay than the typical Marriott-branded hotel.
Cost to book in points: Category 5 rooms start at 30,000 off-peak, 35,000 for standard rates or 40,000 for peak season rates. A Category 6 costs a bit more, 40,000 during off-peak and up to 60,000 during peak times. NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cent per point.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
A smart way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card currently features the following welcome bonus: For a Limited Time Only! Earn 125,000 Bonus Points and 1 Free Night Award (value up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. It also includes an annual free night award worth up to 35,000 points, among other perks.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has a similar welcome bonus for new cardholders: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus Free Night Award after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Resort fees may apply. Terms apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021. The card includes an annual free night worth up to 50,000 points.
Hilton operates a handful of hotels within San Jose, including the Hilton San Jose, plus multiple DoubleTree by Hilton hotels that offer a luxurious atmosphere. One standout property is the Hayes Mansion San Jose, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton.
Hayes Mansion San Jose, Curio Collection by Hilton
The Hayes Mansion San Jose is a unique hotel near several golf courses. It’s ideal for business events and family getaways.
Cost to book in points: Rooms are available for 36,000 points per night or 65,000 points for a suite. Hilton doesn’t have a set award chart, but rooms here could be a fun way to cash in your balance. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.5 cent a piece.
How to earn Hilton Honors points
The Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card could have you staying in a Hilton on points in no time. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has the following welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply.
The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card’s welcome bonus 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.
Both cards also include either Gold or Diamond status at Hilton, which may get you bonus points, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, lounge access and other goodies. Learn more about Hilton Honors status here. Terms apply.
If you want award bookings at Hilton without a Hilton branded credit card, but still want Gold status, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card includes automatic Hilton Gold Status, plus the following 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. Points can typically be transferred to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio, which means one American Express point is worth two Hilton points.
Hyatt offers 15 hotels in and around San Jose and more than 30 if you’re willing to go all the way up past San Francisco. Most are under the modern Hyatt Place, Hyatt House and Hyatt-Centric brands. Other options include the Hotel De Anza under the Destination Hotel brand and the Wild Palms Hotel and Hotel Avante under the Joie de Vivre brand.
Cost to book in points: Under the Hyatt award chart, rooms vary widely. Category 5 hotels cost from 20,000 to 40,000 points per night as a reference point. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 1.9 cents each.
How to earn Hyatt points
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is a practical way to earn Hyatt points. The card features this welcome bonus: 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.
If you visit San Jose with credit card points
San Jose is an exciting city to visit. Bookmark this page to use it as your points and miles guide to San Jose for your next visit. If you’re sitting on a stockpile of reward currencies, a free or discounted trip to San Jose could be just around the corner.
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