Using credit card points for long weekends

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Summer is the perfect time for a long weekend. That’s even more true this year as the 4th of July and Labor Day both fall on a Monday, creating the perfect opportunity for a three-day weekend.

But inflation and rising travel costs darken the picture. If you’re put off by the high price of travel this summer, you’re not alone. In fact, 69% of Americans change their travel plans due to inflation, according to a March 2022 Bankrate survey. shorter distances to save money.

Tapping into your pool of points and miles can significantly reduce costs. Points and miles are most valuable when exchange rates are high, giving travelers the flexibility to travel even during expensive and busy holiday weekends.

Using your credit card points for a weekend getaway can help you save money, especially during the summer or on a holiday weekend when travel costs are high. It’s easy to redeem points for things like flights, hotel stays, and rental cars. Here’s how you can best use your credit card points for a long weekend.

Take an inventory of credit card points

A good side of inflation (if there is one) is that because you spend more, you also earn more points every time you swipe. Check your credit card points balance for all cards in your wallet. You might be surprised to find that your points have slowly accumulated into a decent sized balance.

Be sure to verify all of your accounts so you know exactly what you’re working with. Researching your card’s transfer partners can also be helpful at this stage, especially if you already have a destination in mind.

Once you’ve taken note of your points balance, you can select a destination and figure out how to best use your points to get there.

Choose a destination

Weekend getaways usually only last a few days, so choose a destination that makes sense – one where you won’t have a layover or a long drive. Choosing a good destination may also depend on whether you are traveling alone, with family, as a couple or with friends. For example, you might want to go to the Las Vegas casinos with friends, but prefer a theme park or national park vacation with the kids.

Ideal long weekends include national or state parks, major cities or capitals, historical attractions, beaches, lakes, major tourist sites or theme parks.

The sky’s the limit when using your credit card points for a long weekend. Those who can take an extra day or two may be inclined to go a little further afield or even internationally, like a sunny break in Cancun or Bermuda or a weekend on the town in Toronto. East Coasters might even want to consider Europe for a long weekend.

But those who want to stay home should consider these popular destinations as ideal for a weekend getaway:

  • Northeast: New York, Cape Cod, Acadia National Park, Martha’s Vineyard, Boston
  • South Eastt: Disneyworld, Savannah, Florida Keys, Charleston, Gulf Shores
  • Midwest: Chicago, Branson, Milwaukee, Nashville, Hocking Hills State Park
  • Center-southl: New Orleans, San Antonio, South Padre Island, Hot Springs, Ozarks
  • North West: Bend, Sun Valley, Glacier National Park, Seattle, Napa Valley
  • South West: Sedona, Santa Fe, Moab, Las Vegas, Santa Barbara

Below, the section on transferring points and credit card portals can also help you choose a destination based on your points inventory.

Hotels

If you have a hotel credit card like the World of Hyatt credit card, you can choose a destination based on a specific property you want to visit. Hotel websites often have listings of their properties by country, so check them out to see what makes sense and if you have enough points for a weekend getaway.

General travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® card, for example, often allow you to redeem points for hotel stays as well. This particular card also gives cardholders a $50 credit for hotel stays each year. To see what’s possible, log into your credit card’s travel portal.

Flights

If your destination is remote, you can use your points for flights. For example, anyone with the Delta Skymiles® Gold American Express Card will want to find destinations to which they can fly nonstop via Delta.

Again, those with general-purpose travel credit cards — cards that aren’t affiliated with a particular airline or hotel brand — will have even more flexibility.

Transfer of points or reservation via the travel portal by credit card

Transferring your points

If you have a credit card such as The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Capital One Venture X Rewards credit card, you earn flexible points currencies, unlike, for example, Delta points which can only be used with one brand.

These flexible points allow you to book travel with a variety of brands. There are two ways to approach this. The first is to transfer your points, which requires a partnership between your credit card issuer and a particular hotel or airline brand. When you transfer points, they are transferred from your credit card account to your loyalty account with a hotel or airline. You would then book your flight or accommodation through this loyalty account. This option sometimes yields more value per point

Your choice of destination may depend on the best deal you find for your particular credit card. For example, if you have Capital One rewards, the only Capital One hotel partners are Wyndham and Choice Privileges. If you are traveling to a destination that does not have Wyndham or Choice hotels, the ability to transfer Capital One points to these brands will not benefit you on that trip. Those with a large Capital One points balance should instead choose a destination that has Wyndham or Choice hotels (and ensure the hotel you want has award availability before transferring), or choose to use the travel portal instead of transferring points.

It works the same way with airline partners. If the only nonstop flight option from your origin airport to your destination is on Delta, Chase is not a Delta Partner, so you will not be able to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points for that particular flight. But knowing Chase transfers to Southwest can help you find a destination you can fly nonstop to from home on Southwest Airlines.

Check out our transfer partner guides for popular transmitters to explore your options.

Booking via a credit card travel portal

Booking through a travel portal is a bit more straightforward. You do this by logging into your credit card account and booking your flight or accommodation directly with the issuer – no travel points.

Chase, Amex and Capital One all have their own travel portals where you can book hotels and flights directly using your points. It might not always be the best use of your points, but one benefit is that you’ll earn points on those stays or flights since, technically, you’re “paying” the credit card company with your points. And sometimes the best value just means being able to use your points when you need them, like during a busy and expensive holiday weekend.

Another benefit of booking travel through a credit card travel portal is that you can use your points for hotels that are not credit card transfer partners or even part of the points program. This provides more flexibility for travelers visiting more rural or obscure destinations that may not have major hotel programs/brands.

With the high price of rental cars, it can also make sense to use points and miles for car rentals, which can significantly reduce the price of your trip. Remember, however, that you will still have to pay for gas.

Work the PTO to your advantage to travel at lower cost

Holiday weekends are popular, peak times for travel, which means spot prices are often high, especially if you fly out Friday night and return Monday. Traveling just a day earlier or later can help reduce the price – not just the spot price. Traveling on off-peak dates often means you’ll save on reward redemptions for hotels, flights, and car rentals.

Explore different departure and return dates to find the best rates (points and cash). Traveling before and after peak holiday dates also means you may experience less traffic and fewer crowds, which contributes to a more positive holiday weekend travel experience.

The bottom line

There are many smart ways to use your points to save on travel. Credit card points offer the ability to book flights, rental cars or hotels at deep discounts or even for free, which can turn a dream getaway into an affordable reality, even when travel prices are high. on peak dates or holiday weekends.

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