How to book 5 spring break dream getaways with points and miles
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest flight and hotel availability for Spring 2022.
With the holiday season long gone and summer still far ahead, the time has come for one of the most anticipated vacation periods of the year: spring break. Thanks to the scattered scheduling of spring break recess across the nation, there are tons of opportunities to cash in those points and miles you’ve been saving up to save big during this vacation period — even at the last minute.
Today we’ll take a look at some flight and hotel options — available as of this writing — that would make for an unforgettable spring break getaway, even for adults. Note that, to best align with school breaks, all sample trips in this post are five to seven nights long and have either weekend or Monday departures and weekend or Friday returns.
While you may be able to leverage Marriott or Hilton’s fifth-night-reward benefit on your award booking, for simplicity’s sake, we’ve decided not to factor in that discount when discussing nightly rates (though they may appear in the images below), since not everyone will be traveling for the same number of nights.
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Miami is the place to be for a quintessential action-packed spring break experience. Although you’d typically never run out of things to do there anyway, events like Miami Music Week and the Miami Beach Gay Pride festival make spring an especially exciting time to visit the city. There’s an influx of fabulous points hotels right in the heart of South Beach, and finding award flights to get there isn’t too challenging, either.
Since it’s one of America’s busiest airports, it’s a breeze to find flights to get you to and from Miami International Airport (MIA). Although American is the only airline to have a hub at MIA, all three major U.S. legacy carriers offer plenty of award options from across the country. Other airlines like JetBlue and Southwest serve MIA as well now, though you’ll still find more options out of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is about an hour away. Although it is probably the most comfortable way to travel between New York and Miami, unfortunately, BLADEone flights can’t be booked with points.
Related: The best ways to get to or from MIA
American Airlines currently offers flights to the Sunshine State from just 12,000 AAdvantage miles round-trip through its dynamically priced Web Special awards. The low fares are available from cities throughout the nation, including ones on the East Coast such as New York City, and ones on the West Coast, such as Los Angeles. Web Specials don’t have all the usual American Airlines Basic Economy limitations, but they cannot be changed once ticketed — just canceled. Regular MileSAAver economy awards will set you back 25,000 miles round-trip, or 15,000 miles for flights under 500 miles.
United awards are similarly priced, with awards starting around 10,200 miles round-trip out of cities like Newark and Chicago. You may be able to unlock additional award availability with MileagePlus Premier status or an eligible United MileagePlus credit card. Remember that United eliminated its close-in cash booking fee but may charge more miles for flights booked within 30 days.
Delta prices its awards more dynamically. The lowest fares out of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in March and April start at 9,000 SkyMiles round-trip but can sometimes cost double that.
If you’re short SkyMiles, Delta is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.
All of the major hotel chains have rooms available to book using points throughout March and April.
You can get amazing value from your Marriott Bonvoy points by staying at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach. The hotel is located on the beach, offers beautiful rooms and has great food and drink options. There’s availability at the peak Category 8, 100,000-point rate in most of March and April, though there are a few 85,000-point standard nights scattered. Unfortunately, there are no off-peak nights available. The hotel has a $45 daily resort fee. But, while Marriott does not usually waive the resort fee on award stays, TPG staffers who’ve stayed there on points report not being charged a resort fee.
If you want something swanky but with a more modern, minimalist design, you can stay at the Category 8 Miami Beach Edition, which also charges peak rates on most nights. Or, for more of a party scene, there’s also the renovated W South Beach for the same price. The hotels charge $49 and $45 resort fees, respectively.
For Hilton Honors fans, the Hilton Bentley is available for 90,000 points per night throughout March and April. While that might seem like a lot of points for this hotel, it’s a good deal based on TPG’s valuation of Hilton points at 0.6 cents apiece since cash rates are hovering upwards of $760 per night.
Some slightly less expensive options include the Curio Collection’s Gale South Beach and The Gabriel Miami South Beach, but they’ll still set you back 80,000 points per night.
If you prefer being downtown, you could spend around 56,000 IHG points per night to stay at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel. IHG also fields several Kimpton properties in South Beach, including the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach, Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel and Kimpton Angler’s Hotel South Beach. For those looking to spend fewer points, consider the new Hotel Indigo in Brickell, where rooms start at 28,000 points per night this spring.
While finding availability at this next hotel might be slightly tougher than the previous ones, arguably the best points redemption you can make in Miami is World of Hyatt’s Confidante Miami Beach. Almost the entire month of March is classified as peak, meaning award nights will set you back 18,000 points, though there are some more nights at the standard 15,000-point rate in April. But you’ll want to book soon because this hotel will move up an award category on March 22.
If you’re short World of Hyatt points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards instantly to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico has relaxed entry requirements for vaccinated travelers and is spring-break ready. San Juan, the most popular tourist destination, has tons of points hotels — and since Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, Americans don’t even need a passport to enter.
Puerto Rico is a short flight away for U.S. visitors. There are nonstop flights to San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) from many major cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas. JetBlue, Southwest and Spirit offer the most nonstop routings, but you’ll find flight options with almost all major U.S. carriers.
Cash fares between the U.S. mainland and San Juan are fairly low, so you’ll likely get the best deal by booking your award with an airline that uses a dynamic award pricing scheme like Delta, JetBlue or Southwest. All three of these airlines have awards to San Juan available from around 8,000 to 10,000 points round-trip throughout March and April. Southwest is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and JetBlue is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase, Citi and Capital One.
American, on the other hand, requires at least around 25,000 miles round-trip, and United’s rates are almost double that.
The La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort was recently renovated and sits right on Condado Beach. It boasts five restaurants, three swimming pools and even a casino on site. But you’ll want to make sure you also explore historic Old San Juan, which is not too far away. Award nights require 40,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
For a slightly less expensive option, you’ll want to check out the AC Hotel San Juan Condado, which features a stunning rooftop pool with Caribbean views. As a Category 5 hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy program, standard awards cost 30,000 to 40,000 points per night. Most nights in April show standard award night rates, so if you have an annual up to 35,000-point certificate from a card like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, this may be your chance to redeem it. Other Category 5 hotels in the area include Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel and Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino.
Hilton Honors loyalists also have a range of options, from the Caribe Hilton to The Condado Plaza Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Juan, Embassy Suites by Hilton San Juan Hotel and Casino and the Hampton Inn and Suites San Juan. These hotels have wide-open standard award availability in March and April and are charging a consistent 60,000 points per night.
Out of these hotels, Caribe Hilton is the nicest option and usually charges the highest cash rates, so that will probably be the best use of your points.
If you want something more luxurious and don’t need to stay directly in San Juan, there are other great options like the stunning St. Regis Bahia Beach and the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico.
If you’re looking to indulge your senses with postcard-worthy beaches and not completely wipe out your stash of points and miles, then Jamaica is for you. While most resorts are family-friendly, some focus on adults and relaxation. Given that most resorts offer a full array of activities, you won’t even need to step foot off the property to keep yourself entertained.
Of the three major U.S. carriers, American offers the most availability to Jamaica. Still, given low cash rates, you once again may be able to get better value by redeeming JetBlue or Southwest points.
With American’s Economy Web Specials, you can find awards to Jamaica from many U.S. cities from 25,000 miles round-trip.
Delta offers similar rates from New York City, with some midweek departures starting at 24,000 points round-trip. Most other major cities are significantly more expensive, though we found some awards out of Atlanta from 18,000 points round-trip.
On the other hand, United requires at least 35,000 miles for a round-trip award from most cities, including Houston.
Depending on your departure city and dates, you may be able to book your flight for less than 10,000 points round-trip with Southwest or JetBlue. That’s a fraction of what the legacy carriers are charging.
Jamaica is the perfect opportunity to redeem your points for a stay at an all-inclusive resort. There are at least three all-inclusive points hotels on the island available this spring.
Two of them belong to World of Hyatt. The chain offers both its family-oriented Ziva brand and its adults-only Zilara brand in Jamaica.
The two hotels are located on Montego Bay and are adjacent, allowing you to trek between the resorts for a greater selection of activities and dining outlets. Across the two, guests have access to over a dozen restaurants and bars as well as room service, which is available 24 hours a day and is free. Rooms are available at both hotels throughout March and April for 25,000 to 29,000 points per night for double occupancy.
Hilton offers the family-friendly Rose Hall Resort. It features the largest water park and the longest white sand beach on the island, as well as 11 restaurants and bars. There isn’t much availability in March, but rooms are available for 70,000 points per night most nights in April.
While Argentina experienced a surge in COVID-19 cases between late December and early January, those figures have significantly decreased since then. Fully vaccinated tourists are welcome — you just need a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel or a negative antigen test taken within 48 hours.
March and April are great times to visit Buenos Aires. Summer officially ended for the southern hemisphere on Feb. 28, but the weather is still comfortable, with average temperatures in the low 70s. Hotel rates and award availability are also better during this period.
Thanks to its Web Specials, you’ll find the lowest rates to Buenos Aires with American Airlines, with award options from cities like Miami and New York available from 50,000 miles round-trip. Normally, saver awards on these routes cost 60,000 miles round-trip.
Although availability is more limited, United has awards from 60,000 miles round-trip out of cities like Houston and Newark.
Unfortunately, Delta’s award rates are currently much higher and we aren’t seeing much availability on partners like Aerolíneas Argentinas and LATAM.
Marriott fields the most points options in the city. For 20,000 to 30,000 points per night, you could stay at the Buenos Aires Marriott or the Sheraton Buenos Aires. Both hotels offer perfect locations near the Calle Florida shopping street. However, they are on the more dated side, particularly the Sheraton.
If it’s luxury you’re after, Marriott also offers the Park Tower, part of the Luxury Collection. Rates here aren’t much higher, ranging from 30,000 to 40,000 points per night. Plus, if you’re already making the trip down to Argentina, hopefully, you’ll be able to take advantage of Marriott’s complimentary fifth-night benefit.
Another option for those looking for something higher-end is the InterContinental Buenos Aires. Award nights here range from 20,000 to 30,000 points per night in the spring. You could also redeem your anniversary free night from the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card here.
An even more luxurious option would be the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. While the rooms might feel a bit dated, the hotel itself is magnificent, set in a neoclassical palace. It’s also home to one of the city’s top spas, complete with a large indoor pool, saunas and jacuzzis. However, as you might expect, stays here don’t come cheap. As a category six World of Hyatt property, rooms range from 21,000 to 29,000 points per night.
If you want to be in a quieter yet still central location, the Hilton Buenos Aires is a solid bet. The rooms could use a facelift, but the rooftop pool makes up for it. There’s also an executive lounge for eligible Hilton elites, though it’s still closed at the time of writing. Award nights here consistently cost 60,000 points per night.
I prefer the Anselmo Buenos Aires, part of Hilton’s Curio Collection. It’s located in the city’s oldest neighborhood, San Telmo, and offers easy access to attractions like Plaza Dorrego and Plaza de Mayo. The rooms are modern and much more reasonably priced, ranging from 21,000 to 39,000 points per night.
Although getting to Australia is quite a trek from the U.S., it just reopened to tourists after almost two years, and now is one of the best times of the year to visit Sydney. You’ll get to enjoy comfortable temperatures averaging in the mid-70s and avoid the larger summer crowds. But unless you come across a fare sale, the trip will cost you a pretty penny when paying in cash, making this a great opportunity to redeem your points and miles.
While the only nonstop flights that will get you to the Land Down Under are out of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Honolulu, you can still book award flights from many cities across the U.S.
American charges just 40,000 AAdvantage miles one-way for saver awards in economy, 65,000 in premium economy, 80,000 in business class and 110,000 in first class. However, you may be able to find slightly cheaper awards through American’s Web Specials.
Alaska charges those same rates for American flights and the following for Qantas flights: 42,500 miles for economy, 47,500 for premium economy, 55,000 for business class and 70,000 for first class. Finding premium cabin availability is tough, but there’s a fair amount of economy space this spring.
United charges similar rates in economy — around 40,000 miles each way. However, business class is much more expensive, with United’s cheapest business class awards starting at 88,000 miles each way and the most expensive ones exceeding 200,000 miles.
If there’s saver-level space available, you could be better off booking through ANA Mileage Club, which charges 75,000 miles round-trip in economy and 120,000 miles in business class. ANA is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.
The same holds for Delta. Economy awards start at just 40,000 SkyMiles each way and are widely available at this rate. However, Delta One (business class) awards will set you back a mind-boggling 465,000 miles each way.
Sydney has many opportunities for you to maximize hotel redemptions using points and miles regardless of your style or budget. For instance, if it’s luxury you’re looking for, then the Park Hyatt Sydney has you covered. It’s known for its breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, spacious rooms and top-notch service.
A room here will set you back 30,000 to 35,000 points per night as there are no off-peak nights in March or April. That may sound steep but considering cash rates normally exceed $800 per night, you’ll be getting a significantly greater value out of your points than what TPG values them at.
If a Holiday Inn is more your style (or budget), you can stay at the Holiday Inn Darling Harbour, Holiday Inn Potts Point-Sydney or the new Holiday Inn and Suites Sydney Bondi Junction for around 20,000 IHG Rewards points per night.
IHG also fields some more upscale options in the area that are still fairly reasonably priced and may be covered by the annual reward night certificate from the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card. They range from the stately InterContinental Sydney to the modern Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour to the brand-new Kimpton Margot Sydney.
Other mid-level treats include the Pier One Sydney Harbour, which is part of the Autograph Collection, the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park and the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay. All of these properties cost 30,000 to 40,000 points per night.
It’s not too late to book yourself an amazing spring break getaway using points and miles. If you don’t find award availability for the hotel you’d like to stay at during your preliminary search, consider searching for award space night by night. After all, you could book some nights with points and some with cash.
If you’re short on points and miles with any of the airlines or hotels mentioned in this post, there are a ton of credit cards that allow you to transfer points to travel partners. However, you should always compare the cost of using fixed-value points to transferring points to an airline or hotel program. You may come across good last-minute cash booking options, in which case you’ll be better off redeeming your points at a fixed value through a travel portal.
Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy.
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