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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Cape Cod is a beautiful place to visit in summertime and with the bridges onto the Cape only about an hour’s drive from downtown Boston, it’s a great warm-weather “home away from home” for families. It is also ideal for relaxing after spending a few days exploring the city. (Although be prepared for traffic when driving to the Cape in summer.)

Clearing storm and dramatic skies at Race Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod.
Clearing storm and dramatic skies at Race Point Lighthouse on Cape Cod.

While I have been fortunate to stay for free with family on the Cape, you too can stay sort of for “free” using points and miles.

7 Points Hotels on Cape Cod

Cape Cod is not overly populated with chain properties, but there are enough that you can use your hotel points from many brands, including Choice Hotels, Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group.

Bluegreen Vacations: The Soundings Seaside Resort & The Breakers Resort

Although you may have never heard of Bluegreen Vacations, they are Choice Hotel group’s timeshare properties. This means you can use your Choice Privileges points at these amazing properties and you can typically reserve a larger room (often a suite) with a kitchen. There are two beachfront properties under this umbrella right next to each other in Dennis Port, roughly halfway out on Cape Cod — The Soundings Seaside Resort and The Breakers Resort. Out of all the chain properties on this list, these are the only two right on the beach and, by far, my favorite choices for using your points.

(Jennifer Yellin / DealsWeLike.com)
Enjoy the beach at The Soundings. (Photo by Jennifer Yellin / DealsWeLike.com)

Aside from having the beach right at your front door, you’ll have a beachfront outdoor heated pool (seasonal), an outdoor hot tub (available year-round) and an indoor pool. Other amenities include a fire pit, grills for barbecuing and a playground for the kids.

While the properties have separate pool areas, you can use the amenities for either, regardless which property you stay at. The main difference is that The Soundings is more beachfront, has a nicer pool area and is where the indoor pool is located. All things considered, you may want to pick The Soundings over The Breakers, if available.

The Soundings Seaside Hotel. (Photo via Bluegreen Vacations)
The Soundings Seaside Hotel. (Photo via Bluegreen Vacations)

At both of these properties, if you are looking to stay during peak dates (April 16 – Sept. 15,  2019) it will cost you 30,000 Choice Privileges points per night. During off-peak time, you can book a night for just 20,000 points. The best part about using your points at Bluegreen Vacation resorts is that you can sometimes book up to the largest suite for the same number of points. At both of these properties, there are standard rooms and suites, so if you are able to book early enough, a suite can be booked for the exact same 30,000 points a night as a standard room. No need to worry about an upgrade or pay for a larger room, and that extra space is ideal for a family.

Stay for just 30k points a night in a two-bedroom suite at The Sounding during peak dates.

If you do not have any Choice points to redeem for a free night, earning them is quite easy. You can transfer American Express Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio (although not always best value for your points), Amtrak Guest Rewards elite members and those who have the Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card can transfer 5,000 Amtrak points to 15,000 Choice Privileges points (a great value) or you can sign up for the Choice Privileges Visa Credit Card, where you’ll earn 32,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on the card within the first 90 days. Alternatively, you can always purchase points with Choice’s current 50% bonus (through April 22, 2019). This means you can spend $440 to purchase 60k points which will allow you to stay two nights at this property.

Tip: You can only book Choice properties with points 100 days in advance of your stay.

Four Points by Sheraton Eastham Cape Cod

The Four Points By Sheraton Eastham is located midway between Hyannis and Provincetown, putting you in the perfect spot to spend the day at some great Cape Cod beaches. You have Coast Guard Beach just six minutes away, Nauset Lighthouse Beach is seven minutes away and Skaket Beach, on the bayside, is 15 minutes away. While the beaches in this part of the Cape (known as the Outer Cape) are great, there have been a few shark attacks in the past few years — there is a pretty large seal population offshore that attracts the predators. Since this part of the Cape takes longer to get to, it isn’t as populated and has a more laid-back atmosphere. You are also only a half-hour from Provincetown, which is one of the largest LGBT communities in the US.

The Four Points by Sheraton Eastham, Cape Code. (Photo courtesy of Sheraton)
The Four Points by Sheraton Eastham, Cape Cod. (Photo courtesy of Sheraton)

While the Four Points is not a resort hotel, it has been recently renovated and your kids can enjoy the indoor heated saltwater pool. There is also an entrance to the Cape Cod Rail Trail bike path right at the property — the 25-mile path stretches from South Yarmouth to South Wellfleet.

This Category 5 property requires 35,000 Marriott  points a night, which is the perfect opportunity to use your up to 35k night certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card. With your points or award certificates, you can select a room with a king bed plus a pullout sofa or a room with two queen beds. They also have large two-bedroom apartments that can fit eight guests, if you are lucky enough to score an upgrade.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cape Cod – Hyannis

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cape Cod-Hyannis is a beautiful property with landscaped grounds and an outdoor pool. Although Hyannis is more populated and less beach-oriented than many other areas on the Cape, this property is centrally located, which will give you easy access to many day trips — from visiting Woods Hole or going all the way to Provincetown. From the DoubleTree, you are also down the street from the Cape Cod central railroad, a unique way to see the region. Within minutes you can also visit the John F. Kennedy Hyannis Museum or take a tour of the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory. There are also ferries to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket in Hyannis.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Cod, Hyannis. (Photo courtesy of DoubleTree)
The DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Cod, Hyannis. (Photo courtesy of DoubleTree)

This property will usually cost you 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night for a room with one king bed or two double beds. While they have rooms with a sofa bed as well, they cost more than double the amount of points and are not worth that high redemption. If you have any sort of Hilton status, which you can easily obtain with the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, you are better off booking the base room and then calling the hotel to see if they will upgrade you to the larger room. Here are some ways to increase your Hilton account balance.

Travelodge by Wyndham Cape Cod Area

The Travelodge by Wyndham Cape Cod Area is in West Dennis, which puts you in close proximity to Dennis Port, Harwich Port and Chatham. You are also only five minutes from West Dennis Beach and the historic West Dennis Lighthouse. At this property, you’ll receive complimentary continental breakfast and access to an outdoor pool.

Travelodge by Wyndham in Cape Cod. (Photo courtesy of Travelodge)
Travelodge by Wyndham in Cape Cod (Photo courtesy of Travelodge)

Although Travelodge properties are some of Wyndham’s lower-end hotels, this particular one has received decent reviews. With Wyndham Reward’s recent award chart change, this property stayed at the same 15k points per night redemption. You can book a room with one king or two queen beds.

Holiday Inn Cape Cod – Falmouth

Falmouth is one of my favorite areas of Cape Cod. You are closer to the bridges (less time in Cape traffic), there are a ton of beach options, you are close to Woods Hole and a great downtown area. Although the Holiday Inn Cape Cod – Falmouth is not on the beach, you are within a mile of downtown Falmouth and two miles from Surf Drive Beach.

You can also easily ride your bike straight onto the Shining Sea Bike Path — a scenic ride along the water through Falmouth and into Woods Hole. When traveling to Falmouth with your kids, you won’t want to miss the aquarium in Woods Hole, the downtown playground (with a carousel during the summer months) and a hike up to The Knob. Back at the hotel, you can also swim in the indoor heated saltwater pool.

Downtown Falmouth, MA. (Photo by Oleg Albinsky/Getty Images)
Downtown Falmouth (Photo by Oleg Albinsky/Getty Images)

During the summer months, this property can easily cost more than $300/night. Or you can use just 30k IHG Rewards Club points per night (rooms with two double beds are available). It is also the perfect opportunity to use your annual free night certificate from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (capped at properties costing 40k points a night). With that card you can also get your fourth award night free, which means four nights for 90k total points.

Clarion Inn Martha’s Vineyard

If you are looking to head to the islands off Cape Cod, there is one chain hotel available: the Clarion Inn Martha’s Vineyard. This property in Edgartown is easy to get to from any of the ferry locations, either by riding your bike or taking the trolley. From the property, you are also walking distance to downtown (where you’ll find a ton of great restaurants) and to many beaches. There are also plenty of places to rent a bike right outside of this hotel.

Explore downtown Edgartown or the beaches by foot or bike (Jennifer Yellin / Deals We Like)
Explore downtown Edgartown or the beaches by foot or bike. (Photo by Jennifer Yellin / Deals We Like)

This property features complimentary hot breakfast and a heated pool. You are also situated next door to a supermarket, which is good for snacks and water for the kids.

The Clarion Inn Martha
The Clarion Inn Martha’s Vineyard (Photo via Hotel Guides)

With prices in Martha’s Vineyard extremely high during peak season, being able to redeem just 30,000 Choice Privileges points is a steal (for stays April 16 – Sept. 15, 2019). Or if you are low on points, you can use just 6,000 points plus $180. I personally think this property is a great value since you can get around Edgartown by foot and also explore the rest of the island by bike or trolley.

Using Flexible Points at Boutique Properties

Since the number of chain hotels in Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Islands is limited, many visitors would prefer to stay at a non-chain hotel right on the water. The sticker cost of doing this can be shocking in the prime-time summer months on Cape Cod.

Fortunately, there are many ways to use your flexible points to offset these costs. For example, if you are looking to stay at a desirable beachfront property, such as the Chatham Bars Inn, the Wequassett Resort & Golf Club or the Sea Crest Beach Hotel, this could be the perfect opportunity to redeem your Capital One miles or Barclaycard Arrival miles. With both of these programs, after you book your hotel reservation (directly with the hotel itself or through a third-party booking site such as Expedia.com), you can then go into your online account and wipe away the charges. With both of these programs, you are redeeming at 1 cent per point. For example, a $300 room reservation will require 30,000 points with both programs.

Old Silver Beach at sunset from Sea Crest Beach Hotel (Photo by Jennifer Yellin / DealsWeLike.com)

Another great way to stay for less is to use the Citi Prestige Card. The absolute best perk of this credit card is that on hotel reservations, you’ll receive your fourth night free. This applies to both paid and point reservations. So even if you are not looking to redeem your points, all you have to do is call the Citi Prestige Concierge and they will make the reservation for you — for a few more months, they can even get you any additional discounts that you’d receive with booking through the hotel directly, such as resort credits, AAA rates, free nights, etc.

Note that as of September the fourth night free benefit will be restricted to twice per calendar year and you’ll have to use Citi’s booking portal online, so plan accordingly. Or you can always use your Citi ThankYou® Reward points where you can redeem your points at 1.33 cents per point when booking through the ThankYou Rewards portal.

Renting a House

For an extended stay in Cape Cod, many families would prefer to spread out and rent a house. Airbnb has many options to fit both large and small families. (Here are some tips for families using Airbnb.) Many houses are also part of communities where you’ll have access to a pool, tennis court and other facilities within the complex.

If you decide to go the Airbnb route, there are many ways to reduce your total cost. For starters, if you are new to Airbnb, you can receive $40 off your first $75 or more reservation just for signing up to be a member. Additionally, I always suggest googling “Airbnb promotion code” to see if there are any limited time offers at the time you are looking to book.

When actually paying for your stay, there are many ways reduce your cost by purchasing Airbnb gift cards at a discount at Raise or eBay — the actual savings varies by day, but you can typically always find some discount. Amazon even runs flash sales quite often where you can often purchase a $50 gift card for just $40, so be on the lookout when those sales happen.

Alternatively, purchase Airbnb gift cards at Staples where you can use a card that earns you 5% cash back at office supply stores, such as the SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express (up to $50,000 each calendar year; then 1%) and Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card (up to $25,000 each account anniversary year). Once you purchase Airbnb gift cards, you can add them to your account, which allows you to use multiple gift cards on a single reservation.

Last, Airbnb purchases on your credit card should code as “travel” so this is another opportunity to redeem your Capital One or Barclaycard Arrival miles. With the current offer for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, this can essentially get you a bonus of 70,000 miles, worth $700 toward your Airbnb stay (after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days); the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card offer would give you a bonus of 50,000 miles, worth $500 toward your Airbnb stay (after spending $3,000 in the first three months). (Be sure you earn Delta miles, too.)

Bottom Line

There are lots of opportunities to stay for free on Cape Cod this summer by using your points and miles. With an entire coastline of beaches, many bike trails and hikes, kid-friendly activities and, of course, ice cream shops wherever you go, your family will absolutely have a fantastic vacation.

Jennifer Yellin covers family travel deals for TPG and blogs at Deals We Like. Follow her family’s adventures on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured image by Shutterstock 

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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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