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The complete guide to booking all-inclusive hotels with American Airlines Vacations

May 27, 2021
12 min read
grass-roofed cabanas on a beach
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These days, all-inclusive resorts are popular with travelers looking for a relaxing getaway from work-from-home life. There are plenty of different ways to book one of these resorts. You can use points and miles to cover a package, book independently by piecing together your own itinerary or use an airline vacation portal. The latter can be a convenient booking method since you can bundle your resort with flights (and a rental car, if needed).

There are also some benefits to booking through an airline vacation portal if you're loyal to a single airline. For example, when you book all-inclusive packages with American Airlines Vacations, you can take advantage of discount codes and earn bonus AAdvantage miles on each booking.

Today, I'll dive deep into booking all-inclusive resort stays with American Airlines Vacations. I'll start by giving you an overview of American Airlines Vacations and discussing the pros and cons of using it to book all-inclusive stays. Then, I'll round out the article with a look at how to actually book these stays.

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An overview of American Airlines Vacations

American Airlines Vacations lets you bundle airfare, hotels and rental cars into one simple booking. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

American Airlines Vacations is American's vacation booking portal. You can use it to bundle together flights, hotels and rental cars in any combination. This makes it easier to book your travel and get a single bill for everything you need for a great vacation at an all-inclusive resort.

That said, there are a few things you should consider when booking an all-inclusive with AA Vacations. For example, you'll earn bonus American Airlines miles, but you may not earn hotel elite qualifying nights.

Related: 13 mistakes to avoid at all-inclusive resorts

Pros of booking all-inclusive stays with American Airlines Vacations

There are many upsides of booking all-inclusive stays through AA Vacations — here's a look at the ones worth noting:

You may get a better deal on airfare and hotel stays

AA Vacations can save you money on your all-inclusive hotel booking. The portal will often give you a substantial discount on airfare with the bundle, which can significantly reduce the overall cost of your trip.

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For example, I priced out a six-night vacation package for two in Cancun this August. The packages includes flights originating in Chicago and a 7-night stay at Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancún. The total price for two people is $3,774.05.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

When booked separately, the same flights cost $1,006 while the hotel stay costs $3,922, bringing the total to $4,928. You'll save over $1,000 by booking with AA Vacations and it's possible to bring the price down even more with limited-time promotions.

Related: 11 incredible all-inclusives for people who hate all-inclusives

There are plenty of ongoing promotions

American Airlines Vacations regularly offers discounts. (Photo by Matthew Wakem/Getty Images)

American Airlines offers great discounts and other promotions on the AA Vacations portal. Sometimes these are general discounts on all bookings. Other times they apply to a select hotel group. These promotions are in addition to the bonus American miles you earn by booking with AA Vacations.

You can see all promotions on the AA Vacations website. Currently, American is offering up to $250 off all bookings when you use promo code WELCOME75 or WELCOME250. The WELCOME75 code saves $75 on all 3-night bookings or longer that cost at least $750.

The WELCOME250 code saves $250 on all bookings of four nights or longer that cost at least $2,500. The promotion ends on June 9, 2021.

Keep an eye on the AA Vacations deals page for more discounts on all-inclusive resort stays. Depending on what you book, it could bring incredible savings you won't find elsewhere.

Also, note that all American elites were gifted up to $400 in AA Vacations credit during the height of the pandemic. This credit is good through Dec. 20, 2021, so make sure to use it before it expires.

Related: Cancun essentials: Everything you need to plan the perfect Mexico getaway

You'll earn bonus American miles on all your bookings

You'll earn 1,000 bonus American Airlines AAdvantage miles on all AA Vacation bookings. Plus, you can earn up to 30,000 additional bonus miles when you book with featured hotels. These are noted in the search results on the AA Vacations website.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

These miles can help you offset the total cost of your booking and are a nice bonus, especially when booking independent properties that wouldn't otherwise award hotel points. TPG values AAdvantage miles at 1.4 cents per point. This means you'll always get at least $14 worth of miles on top of the miles you earn when flying American.

Related: How to earn American Airlines AAdvantage miles

You may be booked into a "Special Fare"

American often books AA Vacations airfare into what the carrier calls a Special Fare. What makes these fares so interesting is that they earn redeemable miles and Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) based on distance flown, not how much you spend.

This may result in you earning more miles and EQDs than if you were to book the airfare standalone. Special Fares are noted in AA Vacations with an asterisk when selecting flights for your vacation package. Click the View Details button underneath your flight of choice and look for your booking class. If there's an asterisk next to it, it's a Special Fare.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

Special Fares earn rewards based on the following chart:

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

In the example above, a round-trip flight from Chicago-O'Hare (ORD) to San Jose del Cabo (SJD) via Phoenix (PHX) would earn 75% redeemable miles, 100% Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM) and 15% Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQD) per mile flown.

The round-trip mileage is 4,323 miles, so you'd earn 3,242 redeemable miles, 4,323 EQM and $648 EQD toward American elite status.

If the airfare portion of this itinerary costs $500 per person before taxes, each member — without elite status — would earn 2,500 miles, $500 EQD and the same 4,323 EQM on a round-trip ticket. Do the math and see if a Special Fare works better for your mileage situation.

Related: The best sweet spots in the American Airlines program

You can pay with American miles (but it's not a great deal)

You can pay for AA Vacation packages with your AAdvantage miles, but only at a value of 1.05 cents per point. I recommend avoiding this, as TPG values American miles at 1.4 cents per point. It's possible to get far more value if you redeem for high-end partner awards (think Cathay Pacific first class) or long-haul flights in American business class of Flagship first.

Related: 5 common purchases you should never redeem miles for

Cons of booking all-inclusive stays with American Airlines Vacations

(Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Of course, not all is great. There are a couple of downsides to booking with AA Vacations.

You may not earn hotel points on your stays

Generally, you'll only earn hotel points and elite status credit when you book directly with the hotel group. Likewise, you usually can't use your hotel elite status benefits when booking with a third party. This includes bookings made with AA Vacations, so consider if the savings are worth not having these benefits at hand.

Related: Why all-inclusive resorts are more attractive than ever following the pandemic

Bundling can give you less flexibility

Booking all your travel in one place may give you less flexibility to make changes or curate your own experience. So, consider whether or not you want to build out your own trip or have the simplicity of a single booking. Plus, you may want to skip AA Vacations if airfare is cheaper on another airline.

Thankfully, you can book hotel stays shorter than your round-trip flights if you want to visit multiple destinations or otherwise build out a larger itinerary.

Related: How to quickly reach an airline customer service agent

How to book all-inclusive stays with American Airlines Vacations

Booking an American Airlines Vacations package is easy. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

One of the best parts of booking an all-inclusive resort with AA Vacations is how simple it is to book. Here's a quick overview of how to do it, start to finish.

Start by heading to the AA Vacations website. Enter your itinerary in the search box at the center of the screen and click the blue Search button at the center of the screen.

You'll be presented with all available hotel and resort options. To only see all-inclusive properties, scroll down until you see the "Property Type" header on the left-hand side of the screen and select the "All inclusive resort" option.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

Look around the page until you find the property you'd like to book. All prices listed are for flights, hotels and rental cars (if you selected one). Click the "Choose this deal" button to choose a property to book.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

You'll now be prompted to select a room type. Pick the one that best fits your needs.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

Now, pick the flights you'd like to book. Again, you may want to check if you're booking a Special Fare by clicking the View Details button.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

You can check out and pay for your booking by following the on-screen prompts.

Related: Booking an American Airlines vacation package — Reader Success Story

Redeeming AAdvantage miles for American Vacations

You can redeem AAdvantage miles for AA Vacations packages. Unfortunately, this doesn't yield a great value. All packages can be redeemed at a set value of 1.05 cents per point, so a $1,500 vacation package costs 142,857 points. Again, this is far lower than the redemption value you'd get on most flights, especially if you're booking premium cabins.

You'll see the miles cost for a booking on the check-out screen on the AA Vacations website. You can use the slider at the bottom of the screen to choose how many miles you'd like to apply to your reservation. You can use as little as 1,000 miles toward a reservation.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines Vacations)

Related: Sweet Spot Sunday: American Airlines off-peak awards to Europe for 45,000 miles round-trip

The best credit cards for American Airlines Vacations

Make sure to pay for vacation packages with a credit card that earns bonus points on travel. If you can, I recommend going with a card in the Chase Sapphire family. These cards earn bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all travel that can transfer to numerous travel partners, including World of Hyatt and United MileagePlus.

They also come with several types of travel protections that could come in handy. Here's a look at current offers:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.

Related: TPG beginner’s guide: Everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards

Bottom line

Booking all-inclusive resorts through AA Vacations can be a good way to simplify and save on your all-inclusive resort bookings. As discussed, always run the numbers and see if it makes sense for your specific vacation. Also, keep an eye out for promotions and bonus miles deals that sweeten the deal even further.

Feature photo by Aspects and Angles / Shutterstock.com

Featured image by ASPECTS AND ANGLES/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
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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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
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

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023