How to save on your next trip to Cancun with points and miles

May 11, 2021

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Cancun is one of the most popular spots for a quick beach getaway. Not only is it easily accessible from the U.S., but it’s also an extremely award-friendly destination. All of the major U.S. carriers offer nonstop flights to Cancun and all of the major hotel chains have a presence there. Plus, many of the resorts in Cancun are all-inclusive, allowing you to get even more value from your points.

It’s an even more desirable destination now as there are no restrictions or requirements to enter Mexico at this time. All you’ll need is negative COVID-19 test to re-enter the U.S., but most resorts can assist you with this. However, as a result, cash rates have gone up. Luckily, points and miles can come to the rescue and help you book your vacation for little out of pocket.

Here’s everything you need to know about booking flights and hotels in Cancun using your points and miles.

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In This Post

Airfare to Cancun

Something great about Cancun is how easy it is to get to. Plus, if you’re strategic about your flights, you might even be able to fly there in a lie-flat seat.

There normally are nonstop flights to Cancun International Airport (CUN) from a plethora of U.S. gateways, including the following:

  • Atlanta (ATL): Delta
  • Austin (AUS): Southwest, Spirit
  • Baltimore (BWI): Southwest, Spirit
  • Boston (BOS): American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue
  • Charlotte (CLT): American Airlines, VivaAerobus
  • Chicago (MDW): Southwest
  • Chicago (ORD): American Airlines, Frontier, Spirit
  • Cincinnati (CVG): Delta, Frontier, VivaAerobus
  • Cleveland (CLE): Frontier, Spirit
  • Columbus (CMH): American Airlines
  • Dallas (DFW): American Airlines, Spirit, Sun Country
  • Denver (DEN): Frontier, Southwest, United Airlines
  • Detroit (DTW): Delta, Spirit
  • Durham (RDU): American Airlines, Delta
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL): JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit
  • Houston (HOU): Southwest
  • Houston (IAH): Spirit, United Airlines
  • Indianapolis (IND): American Airlines, Frontier
  • Kansas City (MCI): American Airlines, Frontier
  • Los Angeles (LAX): Delta, Interjet, United Airlines
  • Miami (MIA): American Airlines, Interjet, LATAM
  • Minneapolis (MSP): Delta and Sun Country
  • Nashville (BNA): Spirit, VivaAerobus
  • Newark (EWR): Frontier, United Airlines, VivaAerobus
  • New Orleans (MSY): Spirit
  • New York (JFK): American Airlines, Interjet, JetBlue
  • Orlando (MCO): Delta, JetBlue
  • Phoenix (PHX): American Airlines
  • Pittsburgh (PIT): Spirit
  • Philadelphia (PHL): American Airlines, Frontier, Spirit
  • Portland (PDX): Alaska Airlines
  • Saint Louis (STL): American Airlines, Frontier
  • Salt Lake City (SLC): Delta
  • San Diego (SAN): Alaska Airlines
  • San Francisco (SFO): United Airlines
  • Seattle (SEA): Alaska Airlines, Delta
  • Washington (IAD): United Airlines

Related: Everything you need to plan the perfect Mexico getaway

InterContinental Presidente Cancun
The InterContinental Presidente Cancun. (Photo courtesy of the InterContinental Presidente Cancun)

Cheapest Oneworld awards to Cancun

As you can see, the Oneworld alliance offers the most flights to Cancun, including options from both American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. American even offers some flights with lie-flat seats out of cities like Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD) and Philadelphia (PHL). Your best bet to book these flights is either through American’s own AAdvantage program or British Airways Avios.

Related: 9 Caribbean destinations you can fly to in a lie-flat seat

American typically charges 30,000 miles plus taxes and fees for a round-trip saver award in economy or 50,000 miles for business class. However, if you’re able to take advantage of American’s off-peak dates, your round-trip economy ticket will cost just 25,000 miles — the same price as a domestic award. You might also be able to save by booking a Web Special award.

You can easily boost your AAdvantage mileage balance by picking up and spending on an American cobranded credit card. Most of the cards are offering sign-up bonuses large enough to cover a round-trip award and even have miles left over, including the following:

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($450 annual fee)
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on gas station, restaurant, and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee waived for the first 12 months)
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. ($99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months)
  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on grocery store and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. (No annual fee)
  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere.
  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®: Earn up to 75,000 miles: Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and earn another 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on office supply, telecom, car rental and American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile elsewhere. ($95 annual fee)

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red, and Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Meanwhile, Oneworld partner British Airways uses a distance-based award chart instead of a zone-based one. Short-haul flights from places like Dallas (DFW) start at 15,000 Avios round-trip in economy and just 33,000 Avios round-trip in business class.

British Airways is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You can use your points from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express. While not the best rate, you can also transfer from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio (plus a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer).

Alaska Airlines typically charges similar or sometimes even higher rates than American Airlines does for the same flights. So, you’re likely better off saving those miles for a different redemption, especially considering how hard the miles are to earn.

Related: Maximizing the British Airways distance-based award chart

American Airlines and United Airlines
(Photo by Alberto Riva/The Points Guy)

Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Cancun

If you’re looking to fly to Cancun on United, your cheapest option would be to book through Turkish Miles & Smiles. The program charges just 20,000 miles round-trip in economy or 30,000 miles in business class, regardless of what part of the U.S. you’re flying from. You can transfer points to Turkish from either Capital One or Citi ThankYou Rewards with a card like the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi Premier® Card. The information for the Citi Prestige card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Of course, you can also book directly through United MileagePlus. However, it may cost you more as the airline doesn’t publish an award chart anymore. While it’s hard to say exactly how much you’ll pay for your flights, based on our searches, one-way awards from the U.S. tend to start around 17,500 MileagePlus miles each way in economy 30,000 miles each way in business class.

Related: How to unlock additional award availability with United credit cards

You can transfer points to United at a 1:1 ratio from Chase Ultimate Rewards or 3:1 from Marriott Bonvoy. Alternatively, if you’re a frequent United flyer, you might want to consider picking up a cobranded United credit card, such as the following:

  • New United Quest Card: Earn up to 100,000 bonus miles after a total of $10,000 in purchases in the first six months from account opening — earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months from account opening, plus an additional 20,000 bonus miles after spending $10,000 in the first six months from account opening.
  • United Club Infinite Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. The first-year annual fee is waived, and it’s $95 per year after that.
  • United Business Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

If it’s American Express Membership Rewards points you’re looking to redeem, you could book through Air Canada Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles. Aeroplan uses a distance-based award chart, so the shorter the route, the cheaper.

Cheapest SkyTeam awards to Cancun

Your three main options are either Delta SkyMiles, Flying Blue or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

Delta prices its awards dynamically, meaning the points price varies depending on the ticket’s cash price. While this could spell sky-high rates over peak travel periods, the award rates are fairly reasonable for most of the year. For instance, based on our searches, you could book a round-trip award from Atlanta (ATL) to Cancun from 18,000 SkyMiles round-trip in basic economy, 30,000 miles in Comfort+ or 54,000 in first.

If you’re low on SkyMiles, Delta is a 1:1 transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards and a 3:1 transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy. Alternatively, you could pick up a cobranded Delta SkyMiles credit card.

Personal cards:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card: Earn 10,000 miles after you spend $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after spending $2,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

Business Delta cards:

  • Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card: Limited Time Offer: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase on your new card in the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Business American Express Card: Limited Time Offer: Earn 95,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card: Earn 85,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), after spending $6,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

Related: Everything you need to know about maximizing Delta SkyMiles award tickets

Delta 757
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

Another option is Air France and KLM Royal Dutch’s combined loyalty program Flying Blue. It also prices awards dynamically, but the miles are easier to earn since you can transfer points from all major transferable points programs: American Express Membership RewardsCapital One milesCiti ThankYouChase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Amex, Citi and Chase transfer at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One transfers at a 2:1.5 ratio, and Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio. Based on Flying Blue’s pricing calculator, awards from the U.S. tend to start around 11,500 miles one-way in economy and 28,000 miles one-way in business class.

Flying Blue Cancun rates
(Photo courtesy of Flying Blue)

Although Virgin Atlantic technically isn’t a member of the SkyTeam alliance, you can book Delta awards through its Flying Club loyalty program. The program recently switched to a distance-based award chart for Delta flights. Most flights from the U.S. now cost between 7,500 to 15,000 miles each way in economy and 17,500 to 52,500 miles each way in business class. You can boost your Flying Club balance by transferring points from all major transferable points programs, except Capital One.

Related: The ultimate Virgin Atlantic Flying Club guide

Cancun all-inclusive resorts you can book with points

Many resorts in Cancun are all-inclusive, including ones from the major chains. This is great because you can use your points to cover your stay and all of your meals and activities.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun
Hyatt Ziva all-inclusive in Cancun (Photo by Zach Griff)

Below is a full list of your options. Some of the most popular choices include Hyatt’s pair of all-inclusive resorts — Ziva, a family-oriented property and Zilara, an adults-only resort. They offer multiple pools and jacuzzis, dedicated children’s areas (at the Ziva hotel), two beaches, a full spa and plenty of food and beverage outlets. Both properties require 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night for double occupancy, with an additional charge of 12,500 points for the third and fourth guests in the room. You can boost your World of Hyatt balance by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt or earning with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

  • Armar House, All-Inclusive (Marriott) — coming soon
  • Breathless Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Ascend Collection: from 65,000 Choice points
  • Hideaway at Royalton Riviera Cancun All-Inclusive Resortjoining Marriott Bonvoy in late-2021
  • Hilton Cancun, an All-Inclusive Resort: from 81,000 Hilton Honors points
  • Hyatt Zilara Cancun: from 25,000 Hyatt points
  • Hyatt Ziva Cancun: from 25,000 Hyatt points
  • Now Jade Riviera Cancun, Ascend Collection: from 25,000 Choice points
  • Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, Ascend Collection: from 25,000 Choice points
  • Planet Hollywood Cancun All-Inclusive Beach Resort joining Marriott Bonvoy in late-2021
  • Planet Hollywood Adults Scene Cancun All-Inclusive Beach Resort – Adults Only joining Marriott Bonvoy in late-2021
  • Royalton CHIC Suites Cancun All-Inclusive Resort & Spa — joining Marriott Bonvoy in late-2021
  • Royalton Riviera Cancun All-Inclusive Resort & Spa — joining Marriott Bonvoy in late-2021
  • Secrets Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa, Ascend Hotel Collection: from 75,000 Choice points
  • Zoetry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Ascend Collection: from 90,000 Choice points

Related: 14 of our favorite points hotels on the beach in Mexico

Cancun resorts you can book with points

There are lots of standard beachfront resorts you can book with points as well.

Standout properties include the recently renovated JW Marriott Cancun, which at least one TPG staffer believes is the best Marriott property in Cancun, beating out the nearby Ritz-Carlton, Cancun. It features three pools, three dining venues, a full-service spa, and plenty of activities, including tennis courts. As a Category 6 Marriott Bonvoy property, free nights here cost between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night, making it eligible for an up to 50,000-point free-night certificate that comes with certain Marriott cobranded credit cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.

JW Marriott Cancun
JW Marriott Cancun (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Meanwhile, IHG loyalists can stay at the InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort. It has a prime beachfront location, excellent pools and lots of food and beverage outposts. Base rooms start at 29,000 points per night for a room with either one or two beds.

You can quickly increase your IHG points balance by picking up the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, which is currently offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. While not the best use of your points, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve to IHG at a 1:1 ratio.

Here’s a list of the rest of your options:

  • Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla: 35,000 to 80,000 Hilton points
  • InterContinental Hotels Presidente Cancun Resort: from 30,000 IHG points
  • JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa: from 40,000 Marriott points
  • Marriott Cancun Resort: from 30,000 Marriott points
  • Renaissance Cancun Resort & Marina: from 30,000 Marriott points
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Cancunfrom 40,000 Marriott points
  • The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun: from 40,000 Marriott points
  • The Westin Resort & Spa, Cancun: from 30,000 Marriott points
  • Waldorf Astoria Cancun: opening soon

Related: 7 of the best hotel credit cards that come with an annual free night

Bottom line

There’s no shortage of nonstop flights to Cancun. Plus, there are many resorts you can book with your hotel points, including all-inclusive properties. As such, it should be very easy to book your next vacation there completely on points and miles.

If you’re looking to combine your trip with a visit to Tulum, we have another guide that will teach you how to travel there on points as well.

Featured photo by Matthew Wakem/Getty Images

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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