Paying for a Warm-Weather Getaway on Points

Rachel Morgan CauteroDecember 13, 2019
On a similar note...
On a similar note...

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

The holidays can be stressful for everyone. Whether it’s to de-stress after the holidays or to avoid them altogether, you may be itching to head somewhere warmer this winter. From flights to hotel stays and rental cars, here's how to use your airline and reward points for a warm-weather getaway:

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Good news: Though the winter months are a popular time to travel to warm-weather locales, there are still some deals to be had this winter for a quick getaway. Just remember these offers were available when we found them, but prices and availability change often.

Fly Southwest from Chicago to San Juan, Puerto Rico for a week’s stay in January for just shy of 30,000 points and $11.20 round-trip. Puerto Rico is an easy getaway because it’s an American territory, which means you can use U.S. dollars. Plus, there’s plenty to do and the food is excellent.

If you’ve opted for a wintertime jaunt to Puerto Rico, consider staying at the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel. A four-night stay at this property during the first week of January will cost you just 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

In San Juan, don’t miss landmarks like Castillo San Felipe del Morro, Catedral de San Juan Bautista and La Fortaleza, the latter of which is the governor’s mansion, though you won’t be able to enter. While you’re there, head over to the Capitol, which has an impressive rotunda and is open to visitors Monday - Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Check out eateries like El Jibarito and don’t forget to use your favorite travel card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which offers 2x points on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You can redeem these points through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Aruba

Or fly from Atlanta to Aruba this winter for just 31,000 miles plus $84.95 in fees on Delta. Bonus? These flights are nonstop, making your warm-weather getaway that much more efficient.

If you’re more of an all-inclusive type, American Airlines is offering 15,000 bonus miles when you book an all-inclusive trip with RIU Hotels and Resorts through Dec. 25, 2019. This hotel chain has several locations within Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America, which includes Cancun, Ocho Rios and Aruba. It could be the perfect thing to gift your significant other this holiday season. (It certainly beats another sweater under the tree.)

If you choose Aruba for your getaway, its beaches will likely occupy most of your time. For a break from sunning yourself, observe the local wildlife in Arikok National Park, or schedule a sailing and snorkeling cruise with Pelican Adventures, which offers various options for cruising, from private charters to sunset cruises.

Key West, Florida

If you want to stay domestic, Key West is an excellent choice. It’s brimming with culture and good eats — and even features the former residence of prolific American author Ernest Hemingway and his famous six-toed cats (for the English nerds among us).

Flying to Key West from most other cities in Florida is a cinch, not to mention exponentially cheaper. But it may also be more cost-effective to pay for your flight with cash, as opposed to using points. Case in point: We found this fare on Silver Airways from Tampa to Key West for just $175 round-trip. Plus, you’ll earn TrueBlue points for your flight, since JetBlue and Silver Airways are partners.

If you’re staying stateside, book a room at the waterfront Hyatt Centric Key West Resort and Spa for just 25,000 points a night. The resort is close to Old Town, has a spa and is pet-friendly, which is nice if you plan to bring your furry friends along.

In Key West, visit the southernmost spot in the contiguous United States and the aforementioned Hemingway estate. Or explore Mallory Square and shop along Duval Street.

You could use your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card to shop and fund your excursions. It offers 2x miles on all purchases.

Ground transportation

When you arrive at your destination, you’ll likely need a set of wheels to get around, especially if you plan to go on a few adventures during your trip. Book a rental car with Avis and you’ll not only save up to 35%, but AAdvantage members also will earn 500 bonus miles on rentals of three or more days. The only catch? The rental must begin by Jan. 31, 2020.

Budget is offering a similar deal: Save up to 30% and earn 500 bonus miles for rentals of three days or longer. The rental period must begin by Jan. 31, 2020.

The bottom line

This winter, instead of succumbing to the cold weather blues, use your credit card and airline points to escape to someplace warmer. You’d be surprised at what a little sun and Vitamin D can do.

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 2020, including those best for:

We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet’s official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.