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How Capital One miles can make your next trip to the Maldives close to free

July 20, 2022
5 min read
How Capital One miles can make your next trip to the Maldives close to free
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One of the biggest annoyances about award travel to the Maldives is how pricey non-room expenses are. You may have enough points for a "free" room, but your vacation will still be far from complimentary.

Because of this, even many points and miles collectors consider the Maldives a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But if you can pair your hotel points with a healthy stash of Capital One miles, the Maldives can cost you almost nothing.

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I’ll show you why you shouldn’t meander too deeply into the Maldives without a healthy stash of Capital One miles.

Erase pesky Maldives expenses with Capital One miles

A trip to the Maldives adds up — even if you book flights and hotels with points. (Photo by Neal Wilson/Getty Images)

Capital One miles have an advantage that most other travel rewards do not: They can reimburse just about any travel purchase.

You don’t have to make your purchase through a special travel portal; simply use your Capital One miles-earning credit card for a travel-related purchase, and you can effectively “erase” the purchase from your transaction history (within 90 days after it posts) at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Do you know why that’s a big deal? Almost everything in the Maldives can be charged to your hotel room. Things like food, fishing tours, massages, etc., magically turn into travel expenses when you charge them to your room.

Related: The secret to getting free food with Capital One miles

Capital One miles are critical for a cheap Maldives trip. Even if you book a “free” stay, the peripheral fees and expenses will drain your wallet.

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For example, here’s the cash price for two guests for a five-night stay at The St. Regis Maldives next spring: a whopping $10,967.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

You can book the same stay with 388,000 points. But even when paying $0 for the room, you’ll still pay $1,550 in “fees” — $745 per person for the seaplane transfer to the island, plus taxes.

In other words, your “free” Maldives vacation requires you and a travel buddy to pay $1,550 before you even get to the hotel — where the real expenses begin to add up.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

My husband and I visited The St. Regis Maldives a few years ago. Food prices in the Maldives are jarring — and there’s nothing you can do but pay, since you’re marooned on a luxury island far from local dives and cheap eateries.

During our trip, we spent over $100 per person per meal. Our Marriott elite status gave us free breakfast, but we still paid more than $400 per day for food.

Here are some other random things we paid for:

  • Private (and brief) visit to a secluded sandbar: $300.
  • One massage: $150.
  • Jungle cinema: $750 (it included dinner).

All this to say, an award stay in the Maldives will still cost more than a paid stay in most other parts of the world. The sparkling archipelago isn’t for budget travelers.

But by charging all these extracurricular activities to the room, you can simply pay with your Capital One miles-earning card at checkout and then use miles to "erase" the expenses.

(Photo by Sarah Hostetler/The Points Guy)

The $750 price for the jungle cinema was unforgivable. But the experience was unforgettable, and it cost 75,000 Capital One points. I'd say that's worth it for the experience.

Note: Chase Ultimate Rewards points can technically serve a similar purpose. You can cash them out at a rate of 1 cent each, meaning you can simply redeem Chase points for cash to offset expenses. We value Chase points more highly than Capital One miles, however, and wouldn’t recommend using them this way.

Related: What are points and miles worth? Here are TPG’s monthly valuations

Bottom line

If you’re planning an award trip to the Maldives, it will benefit you to collect Capital One miles alongside whichever hotel points currency you intend to use.

During your trip, try to charge everything to your room — food, massages, etc. If you’re purchasing an activity, confirm that you can charge it to your room as well.

Then, at checkout, swipe your eligible Capital One credit card and offset the purchases with Capital One miles at your leisure. You’ll have 90 days after the expenses post to your account to “erase” them with miles.

Feature photo by Mystockimages/Getty Images.

Featured image by Getty Images
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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Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

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  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
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  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
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  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
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  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
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

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees