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Has your football team made it to the NFL Championship game and is now just one win away from playing in this year’s Super Bowl? That’s exciting. Trust me, I get it. I am married to a die-hard Kansas City Chiefs fan. They hadn’t done much in the playoffs in decades and now are one win from the Super Bowl and let’s just say … he’s excited and contemplating a trip to this year’s Super Bowl.

Plenty of football fans plan trips to the Super Bowl well in advance as they want to go regardless of who is playing (or they cheer for the Patriots and just assume their team will make a repeat appearance each year). The reality is that starting the booking and planning process well in advance is far and away the best method to plan a trip to an event as massive as the Super Bowl. But what if the big game wasn’t on your radar until now? For fans of the Chiefs, Rams, Saints and, yes, the Patriots, that may be exactly the case.

It’s not too late to use miles and points to attend Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Feb. 3, but you need to be creative and flexible.

Use Hotel Points to Attend the Super Bowl

Let’s start with where to sleep. Atlanta is a massive city with lots of surrounding suburbs that feature a wide-variety of hotel options … normally. For Super Bowl weekend, most hotels have been sold out (or at least blocked out) for a long, long time. But, there are some options for Feb. 2 – Feb. 4, especially if you aren’t too picky about where you sleep.

World of Hyatt

While availability is dynamic, right now I see rooms for just 8,000 World of Hyatt points per night at the Hyatt Regency Suites Atlanta Northwest. 8,000 points versus $800 per night seems like an easy call. Note that even award rooms are nonrefundable for that weekend, so be sure of your plans (or willing to gamble 8,000 Hyatt points per night). If you are short of Hyatt points, they transfer 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards and cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham charges a flat-rate 15,000 points per night for all awards, which is normally a bad deal for Days Inn or Super 8 type properties, but during Super Bowl it can be a good deal. For example, the Super 8 by Wyndham Six Flags has rooms selling for about $500 per night that weekend, but awards are just 15k points. The Super 8 by Wyndham Atlanta Airport is also available for 15k points per night (or $300+). That may not be right next to the stadium, but at least it is close to your entry/departure point from Atlanta.

Marriott Rewards

There’s not much available during the Super Bowl within Atlanta via Marriott at the moment, but there is Le Meridien Atlanta Perimeter available for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. In fact, it seems a suite is available at the same 25k points per night rate. Like at Hyatt, this is a nonrefundable award rate.

The Fairfield Inn and Suites Atlanta Stockbridge is also available for 17,500 Marriott Rewards points (or $419) per night. As of now, the terms indicate that you can cancel this room until Jan. 31, 2019.

Hilton Honors

You can book rooms at the renovated all-suites Hilton Homewood Suites by Hilton Atlanta-Galleria for 30,000 Hilton Honors points per night or the Hilton Atlanta Northeast for 30,000 Hilton points per night.

IHG Rewards

While there is nothing in the heart of Atlanta, you can find rooms in surrounding areas like Mcdonough at the Candlewood Suites Mcdonough from 20,000 IHG points per night, but again, most of these rates are nonrefundable. If you are staying for a good portion of the week, the fourth award night is free if you have the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.

Hotels.com

If you’ve been collecting free nights via Hotels.com, this may be a good time to use them. Or, you could rack up more points by booking via Hotels.com/Venture with the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to earn 10 miles per dollar. If you are willing to go roughly 20 to 30 miles from the stadium, there are a host of relatively limited-service properties available for $250+ per night on Hotels.com. Some of these properties do still allow cancelations in the event your team doesn’t win this coming weekend.

Use Airline Miles to Fly to the Super Bowl

Depending on where you are flying from, you might still find airline saver awards to Atlanta for the dates around the Super Bowl. In my search, flying Spirit was actually the best bet from our hometown of Houston as it would be easy to pack in a backpack for a quick trip at just $40 one-way.

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - MAY 09: A Spirit Airlines plane is seen on the tarmac at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on May 9, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Yesterday a chaotic scene erupted at the Spirit Airlines counter after flights were canceled which led to passengers getting irate and the police had to move in to restore order. Spirit blamed the delays on its pilots, who are negotiating for a new contract. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Looking at the other potential Super Bowl team’s cities, Spirit has nonstop service to Atlanta from Boston, Los Angeles and New Orleans, so be sure and check the prices of those flights.

If you are coming from New Orleans to Atlanta, I would consider making a road trip out of it as it is just seven hours and that frees you from having to commit to airfare. Here are some tips if you aren’t yet 100% sure of your airfare plans, but want to lock in something. If you are making a last-minute award redemption, consider programs without close-in booking fees.

(Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)

Checking Google Flights is another great way to price flights to the Super Bowl, even if you ultimately use fixed-value points to cover the costs.

It’s also possible that once the Super Bowl teams are set on Sunday evening, airlines will add some additional flights to Atlanta from the respective teams’ cities, as they did last year. If history repeats itself, some of these flights may even be red-eye returns after the game ends Sunday night/Monday morning that prevent you from needing a hotel room that night.

Use Points to Get Super Bowl Game Tickets

The King of the Super Bowl when it comes to credit cards is the NFL Extra Points Credit Card. You can use those points to attend the game, get VIP access, etc. In fact, a TPG contributor experienced a similar VIP Super Bowl package in Houston a couple of years ago and it looked pretty epic.

Super Bowl packages and tickets opened for redemption by NFL Extra Points members in late-November, so while I can’t test availability myself since I don’t have the card, I doubt many are still available. However, absolutely check if you have the card (and a lot of points) as perhaps some last-minute tickets are still available. For reference, tickets to the Super Bowl have started at around 175,000 points for a pair of upper-level tickets in the program, so start saving up now for next year!

If you have access to a large stash of Marriott Rewards points, you can bid on a Super Bowl package that includes two field-level suite tickets (with food and beverage), a game visit from an NFL legend, a three-night stay at a Marriott property and a $100 Visa gift card. Bidding ends Jan. 15 –17 for these packages, and the rates currently start at 657,000 points. Marriott Moments has some other Super Bowl week events in Atlanta available for 15,000 points, and participation in the Super Bowl Pepsi halftime show that is currently bidding at 100,000 points.

TPG values Marriott Rewards points at 0.8 cents each, making a 700,000 point redemption worth about $5,600, which is frankly a pretty good return.

Saving the worst news for last, if you are paying cash, Super Bowl upper-level tickets start at more than $4,000 each on StubHub. Expect to pay at least double that for something that even begins to resemble a “good” ticket. A purchase that large could be enough to complete a minimum spending requirement on a credit card. (Buy a Super Bowl ticket get a Companion Pass?!). If you don’t use that massive expense to hit a spending requirement, I would at least try to use a card that pays out a bonus on entertainment charges. While we’re on the topic, here are the best credit cards for sports fans.

A final idea to ease the pain of Super Bowl tickets is to use fixed-value points from cards like the Discover it® Miles to give yourself some cash back to offset the price of the ticket.

Bottom Line

You can still use miles and points to go this year’s Super Bowl, but there’s no easy way to get around the sting of the price of tickets into Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Feb. 3, regardless of whether pay with cash or points.

Photo by adamkaz / Getty Images

Know before you go.

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