Advertiser Disclosure

6 Ways to Use Travel Rewards to Elevate Your Staycation

June 18, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Reward Optimization, Travel, Travel Credit Cards, Vacations & Trip Planning
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Have you been bemoaning the lack of vacations in your life, but can get only a weekend off? Consider a staycation. You don’t have to leave town to feel like you’ve gotten away, and credit card and loyalty program travel rewards could help you make the most of your time. Here are six ways travel rewards could boost your next staycation:

1. Upgrade your hotel in the New York City area

Staying at a nearby hotel can feel like a real escape, and you may be able to get a free night or upgraded room by using your travel rewards.

You’ll earn a free night every year in a Category 1 – 4 standard room just for renewing The World Of Hyatt Credit Card from Chase, putting in reach a stay at the opulent Gild Hall in the Financial District or cross the Hudson for a room with incredible views at the Hyatt House Jersey City.

Looking for upgrades? The Platinum Card® from American Express offers you automatic Gold elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, so you could get extra perks like a better room or late checkout. Terms apply.

If you don’t have enough rewards to net a free room, consider using the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card to book your staycation through Booking through this site will earn you 10 miles per $1 spent through January 2020.

2. Spend a weekend exploring Chicago’s museums

Treat yourself to a cultural experience by viewing painter Grant Wood’s iconic “American Gothic” at the Art Institute of Chicago and then heading over to the Adler Planetarium. These museums are among those free on the first full weekend of every month if you hold a Bank of America® , Merrill Lynch or U.S. Trust card.

To save about $20 on admission fees, bring your credit card and identification to one of the participating museums and enjoy hours of free entertainment.

3. Take an Uber tour of Nashville

Relaxing and letting someone else drive can be one of the joys of a staycation. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers cardholders free rides in the U.S., up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. Along with Uber VIP status. Terms apply. Hitch a ride from the Ryman Auditorium to the Bluebird Cafe and pretend you’re the country music sensation you’ve always wanted to be.

If you don’t have this card, you still have options. The Chase Sapphire Reserve®, for example, will give you up to $300 in annual travel credits, meaning your Uber rides could be free.

Can’t find an Uber? Connect your Lyft and Delta SkyMiles accounts to earn rewards for every ride.

4. Do goat yoga in Las Vegas

Travel rewards aren’t all about the air, car and hotel. Take your staycation to the next level with unique experiences available only through your credit card or loyalty program.

The World of Hyatt’s FIND program features fun activities, such as goat yoga sessions for you and your closest three friends at a Las Vegas park for 42,857 points. Don’t have enough points? Pay with cash, and you’ll earn 6,000 base points.

Some reward portals function like auction sites, allowing you to bid for experiences. From intimate food tours and mixology classes to close-up celebrity encounters, the options are endless. Take a look at your loyalty programs or credit cards to see what they offer.

5. Enjoy a free meal in San Francisco

A staycation is the perfect opportunity to explore new food and beverage options. For the culinary-minded, San Francisco’s eight Michelin 3-star restaurants are sure to delight. Watch your rewards roll in when you use a card like the American Express® Gold Card, which offers 4x reward points on restaurants. Terms apply.

If your version of a staycation is eating dinner in bed, there are choices for you too. Expand beyond your usual fare by ordering through Grubhub or Seamless. The American Express® Gold Card offers a $10 credit each month to those food delivery services. Terms apply.

6. Enjoy a VIP concert experience in Denver

Make your staycation distinct with a concert, theater event or award show. Maybe now’s the perfect time to hit up the “Phil Collins: Still Not Dead Yet, Live!” tour at the Pepsi Center, and if you’re a Citi cardholder, the Citi Private Pass provides a special offer to this event and others.

Not a Citi member? American Express has a relationship with Ticketmaster, affording all card members presale access and cardmember exclusives for such performances as Barbra Streisand and touring Broadway shows.

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 2019, including those best for:

Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane
Find the best travel credit card for you
How to score hot summer concert tickets with points and miles

About the author