5 Tips for Using Travel Rewards With Your Vacation Squad

Using your hotel or credit card points could make your next group trip extra spacious or more affordable.
Meghan Coyle
By Meghan Coyle 
Published
Edited by Jeanette Margle
How to Use Travel Rewards With Your Vacation Squad

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Vacation used to be a rare opportunity to spend time with the family. The parents would take time off from work. The kids wouldn’t be at after-school activities or running off to hang out with their friends. For once, everybody would spend some time together.

But after months of staying home, family time is ubiquitous. That’s why some people are forming small groups to travel together, mixing their household with another for safe socializing. The Washington Post is calling it a vacation pod.

Travel rewards might be able to help make your group trip more comfortable for everyone, whether it’s using your points for an upgrade to a larger room or pooling points to cover an award stay. Here are some ideas of how members of a vacation squad can share their travel rewards.

1. You might be able to pool your points

You can multiply your redemption power if you have several members of your vacation squad earning the same type of points. This method is especially useful for sharing hotel points. World of Hyatt lets you share points with any other member. You have to fill out a PDF form and then email it back. Marriott Bonvoy also allows you to transfer points to another member, but you can do it using Marriott's online points transfer tool. Keep in mind there are also some restrictions around transferring points to new members, and the maximum you can transfer to other accounts is 100,000 points per calendar year. Hilton has the easiest process of the major hotel brands: You can do it online and even start a “Points Pool,” which allows up to 11 members to share points.

2. Flexible credit card points might be more useful than airline or hotel-specific points

If your vacation squad doesn’t share the same brand loyalties, you might still have some options to either share your credit card points or redeem those points at the same hotels.

Chase allows you to share points only with another member of your household, so Chase Sapphire cardholders are out of luck if they’re trying to transfer points to another family. American Express Membership Rewards are limited to sharing only with authorized users on your card, so that isn’t a viable option for most vacation pods.

On the other hand, Citi ThankYou points and Capital One Miles are easily transferable between cardholders, and the recipient doesn’t even have to be in your household. Citi has a maximum on the number of points you can transfer in a year (100,000) and also requires that the recipient use the transferred points within 90 days.

The other option is for each family to book a stay with points separately. This is where having a flexible currency from one of the major credit card issuers may give vacation pods more options, instead of being limited to one hotel brand. If you can’t find the hotel you’re looking for through the credit card’s travel booking portal, don’t forget you might be able to transfer your points to a hotel loyalty program. Here’s a rundown of American Express and Chase Ultimate Rewards’ transfer partners.

3. Explore points + cash redemptions

Big travel rewards enthusiasts might shy away from points + cash redemptions in normal times to maximize the value of their points. But this might be a good time to revisit them, especially if you’re traveling with a group.

This type of redemption might help you get a larger living area or outdoor space as you’re trying to get more room for your extra family members or friends. For example, Hyatt premium suites in a Category 4 hotel usually require 30,000 points to book an award stay. You can stretch your points for a few more nights if you’re willing to pay half of the suite’s price in cash, so that premium suite stay at a Category 4 property will only cost 15,000 points per night, plus the cash. This might make it easier to split the expenses, too, if your vacation pod doesn’t have the points to cover the entire stay.

4. Cooking for a big group? Get a place with a kitchen

Since dining out at a restaurant might not be an option at your vacation destination, it’s key to book accommodations with a kitchen big enough to feed your squad. Vacation rentals might be the first option to come to mind, but the downfall is that you can’t easily redeem points for those types of stays.

Don’t forget about hotel brands that may offer similar amenities like Staybridge Suites, which you can book with IHG Rewards Club points. Marriott Bonvoy offers some unique options including Studio Commons at their Element hotels, which come with a kitchen and living area for up to four adjoining rooms. They also allow travelers to book vacation rentals at private homes with points or cash through the Marriott Homes & Villas program.

5. Share your status benefits

If you have elite status with a hotel, it might be worth asking if you can extend some of your benefits (like automatic upgrades) to other rooms booked under the same reservation for the rest of your vacation pod. World of Hyatt allows Globalist members to do this through their Guest of Honor program. Other brands may be willing to do the same if you call ahead — you never know what you might be able to negotiate.

The bottom line

Traveling with a group inherently comes with some risks during the coronavirus pandemic. You’ll want to agree on steps you can take to minimize exposure and getting tested before you travel. Be sure to check the spread of coronavirus at your destination, and know the hotel or vacation rental cancellation policies in case things change. Once you decide to go, using travel rewards to book bigger rooms or share benefits might give you and your vacation pod a little more peace of mind and save you some money along the way.


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 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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