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

Jul 20, 2022

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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 red and white seaplane docked in the Maldives
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.

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.

Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card

Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points after spending $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 8/31/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at a participating hotel. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.99% - 26.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$125
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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