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5 things you should know before booking an all-inclusive resort stay with points

June 14, 2022
9 min read
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With the cost of airfare and hotels on the rise since the beginning of 2022, it's smart to consider vacation options that let you get more bang for your buck.

Often, the ultimate budget-friendly vacation option comes in the form of an all-inclusive resort. Not only do these properties tend to offer relatively low prices for lodging, but your meals, your drinks (including alcohol) and all kinds of entertainment are included in the nightly rate.

You can pay for any all-inclusive resort you want to stay at with points, either by booking through a hotel loyalty program or by using some type of flexible rewards points to cover all or part of your stay. Before you do, however, there are some nuances to this type of booking that you should definitely be aware of, including the potential for hidden charges.

Read on to learn everything you should know before booking an all-inclusive resort with rewards.

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Bringing kids along may require more points

You may pay extra points to bring your children with you to an all-inclusive resort. (Photo by martin-dm/Getty Images)

First off, you should know that bringing kids along on your all-inclusive vacation will likely cost you more, whether you plan to pay in cash or points. This will ultimately depend on the loyalty program you plan to book with, so do your research early if you want to bring kids on your all-inclusive trip.

For example, staying at a World of Hyatt all-inclusive property will set you back at least 12,000 points per night with double occupancy. However, adding another adult or child will set you back an additional sum of points that can vary depending on when and where you go. A stay for four people at Hyatt Category A Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana, for example, would cost between 25,000 and 35,000 points per night.

If you book one of Marriott's new all-inclusive properties, on the other hand, you'll be asked to fork over extra person charges in cash instead of points. For a search we conducted at the Royalton Bavaro in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, for example, an award night for a family of four cost 52,000 points plus $179.10 ($89.55 per child) in extra person charges.

That said, this isn't always the case, and it can depend on the age of your kids. For example, IHG One Rewards all-inclusive properties let you include kids under 12 in your stay without any charge as long as they are in the same room as adults.

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Related: How I made an over $600 mistake while booking my first all-inclusive vacation

You can book an adults-only property

If you're hoping to enjoy a relaxing getaway without the kids, you can also look into adults-only all-inclusive resorts. While properties that only allow adults tend to have more of a party vibe, they can also feel more exclusive and you won't have to deal with other people's sometimes unruly (and loud) children at the pool or in the restaurants you visit.

Note that most of the major hotel loyalty programs have their share of adults-only all-inclusive resorts you can book with points, including Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, Marriott Bonvoy and World of Hyatt.

As an example, consider the Hideaway at Royalton Punta Cana. An example search showed we could book a double-occupancy Luxury Guest Room with a king bed for 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. However, remember that Marriott Bonvoy dropped its award charts. So, award nights may carry a different price when you search.

Related: TPG’s guide to the best all-inclusive resorts you can book with points

Hidden expenses can add up

You can use points to cover other expenses like airport transfers and activities. (Photo by Cassi Alexandra/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

While having all your food, drink and fun included in one nightly rate for your hotel is great, you'll definitely need to budget for all the other aspects of your trip. Even if you pay for airfare with points and miles, you'll have airline taxes and fees to contend with.

Other hidden expenses can include airport transfers to and from your hotel, tips for everyone from bar staff to your maid, excursions you want to book and more.

That said, it's worth noting that you can book a private or shared airport transfer with rewards, either by booking with a credit card that lets you redeem points for statement credits or by booking a transfer through a flexible travel portal.

For example, you can book airport drop offs and pickups with points directly through Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal, and it's usually fairly inexpensive (in points or cash) to do so. Or, you can redeem Capital One miles at a fixed rate of 1 cent per mile to cover any travel expense charged to your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Of course, the same can be said for booking excursions from your resort. You can use flexible points to book anything from snorkeling excursions to zipline adventures if you prefer, and many tour vendors even offer transportation from your resort before and after your day trip.

Related: Comparing the best fixed-value point credit cards

Hotel loyalty programs have added a slew of new all-inclusive options

You can now book AMR all-inclusive resorts with World of Hyatt points. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

If you are just now considering booking an all-inclusive stay with points, you should also know there are more options than ever before.

For example, the Marriott Bonvoy program has also added its share of new all-inclusive properties guests can book with points, including 20 new options that were added to its portfolio at the end of 2021. New choices for your rewards include all-inclusive Royalton, Grand Lido and Planet Hollywood properties in Mexico and the Caribbean.

As one example of a new Marriott Bonvoy hotel you can book, consider the Royalton CHIC Cancun. This adults-only all-inclusive resort has several huge pools, nine restaurants, seven bars, its own spa and an exquisite spot along the beach in Cancun, Mexico. The best part? Nightly rates for double occupancy start at just 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Likewise, Hyatt acquired Apple Leisure Group in 2021 and has since added many AMR all-inclusive resorts to its portfolio, like the Breathless Cancun Soul Resort and Spa. Prices vary by property, so refer to its new all-inclusive award chart for more info.

Related: 8 all-inclusive resorts perfect for honeymooners

Transferable travel points can work for all-inclusive properties

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana All-Inclusive Resort. (Photo by Ben Smithson/The Points Guy)

Also remember that you don't have to book an all-inclusive stay with hotel loyalty points. After all, many types of flexible rewards points will do the trick. For example, American Express Membership Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Citi ThankYou points can all be used to book all-inclusive resort stays through their respective travel portals.

Many times, booking through a credit card travel portal can be a better deal if you were planning to transfer your points to a hotel program to book.

Case in point: We already mentioned how a stay at the Royalton CHIC Cancun with double occupancy starts at 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night. If you search the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (which redeems at 1.5 cents per point toward travel), you can find nightly rates as low as 23,171 points per night over dates this fall.

If you do book a chain hotel through a travel portal, note that you won't earn hotel points or be able to use elite status on most bookings. This is because hotels typically require that you book directly for these benefits.

Related: 9 things to consider when choosing to book via a portal vs. booking directly

Bottom line

Booking an all-inclusive getaway is an excellent way to save money on your next vacation. But you may get an even better deal if you pay for your trip with points instead of cash. Just make sure you know the rules of these bookings ahead of time, and understand that there may be extra fees or charges involved if you plan to bring kids along on your trip.

Also make sure you know about all the different resort brands you can book with points, including which ones are geared to families, adults or travelers of all ages. Hotel loyalty programs are adding new all-inclusive properties to their portfolios all the time, so you'll want to research all your options and compare them before you book.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees