How to book a trip to the Dominican Republic using points and miles

Oct 15, 2020

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At TPG, we paused traveling to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Local and federal governments around the globe are now debating the appropriate levels of isolation and distancing. Before booking that next trip, we recommend you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions. TPG is continuing to publish deals, reviews and general travel news to inform and prepare you for that trip, whether it is next month or next year.

The Dominican Republic is a popular tourist destination for U.S. travelers, served by its two largest airports Punta Cana (PUJ) and Santo Domingo (SDQ), with each destination offering something different. 

The island reopened for international visitors on July 1. As we previously reported, half of the country’s hotels would reopen in July, with the remaining properties expected to reopen in November.

To stop the spread of coronavirus, all passengers will have their temperature checked on arrival, must abide by social distancing and wear face masks, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

With dozens of nonstop flights to and from the Dominican Republic and several hotels to spend your points, your next vacation is within reach.

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In This Post

Airfare

You have tons of options for getting to Punta Cana or Santo Domingo cheaply, as all three major U.S. airlines fly to the country. Fares start at around $330 for flights out of New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR), but you can find cheaper flights if you’re flying out of a Florida hub like Miami (MIA). JetBlue and Spirit also fly to the Dominican Republic, but you’ll pay to pay to pick your seat and bring a bag if you’re flying the latter.

Cheapest Oneworld awards to the Dominican Republic

Photo by Zach Griff / The Points Guy

You can use British Airways Avios on American Airlines flights if you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. to score a great deal to D.R. A one-way flight to Punta Cana from Miami (MIA) will cost you 9,000 Avios plus $47 for economy and 16,500 Avios for business class. 

If you’re short on Avios, Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio, though you’ll also get a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer. 

You can also take advantage of the AAdvantage award chart and snag a MileSAAver off-peak ticket for 12,500 miles each way in economy class if you’re traveling between Sept. 9 – Nov. 18 or Apr. 21 – May 20.

One of the easiest ways to earn them is through sign-up bonuses and everyday spending on co-branded credit cards if you’re low on AAdvantage miles. Citi and Barclays currently issue six credit cards with different welcome bonuses and point-earning abilities.

  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($450 annual fee)
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on gas station, restaurant, and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. ($99 annual fee waived for the first 12 months)
  • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®: Earn 65,000 bonus miles after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first four months of account opening. ($99 annual fee, waived for the first 12 months)
  • American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp℠ Card: Earn 10,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $500 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on grocery store and eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere. (No annual fee)
  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Red World Elite Mastercard®: Earn 60,000 bonus miles after making your first purchase in the first 90 days and paying the $99 annual fee. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile elsewhere.
  • Barclays AAdvantage® Aviator® Business Mastercard®: Earn up to 75,000 miles: Earn 65,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and earn another 10,000 miles when a purchase is made on an employee card. Earn 2x AAdvantage miles on office supply, telecom, car rental and American Airlines purchases, and 1 mile elsewhere. ($95 annual fee)

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select, CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select, Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red, and Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Cheapest Star Alliance awards to the Dominican Republic

If you’re in the U.S., you should definitely consider using Turkish Miles & Smiles to get to the Dominican Republic. Awards start at just 10,000 miles each way in economy or 15,000 in business class. You can transfer Citi ThankYou points to Turkish at a 1:1 ratio using the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi Premier® Card.

The information for the Citi Prestige and Citi Premier® Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

United no longer publishes an award chart, but it’s easy to find cheap tickets to the island. For instance, I’m seeing one-way flights from Newark (EWR) to Punta Cana (PUJ) for just 17,500 miles one-way plus $5.60 in taxes in December.

If you’re low on miles, United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards and a 3:1 transfer partner to Marriott Bonvoy.

If you’re starting from scratch or looking to save up for an expensive award, you’ll want to consider signing up for a United credit card. You’ll have your choice between entry-level and premium cards and personal and business options:

  • United Club Infinite Card: 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, an additional 25,000 bonus miles after you spend $10,000 in the first 6 months. The first year’s annual fee is waived, and it’s $95 per year after that.
  • United Business Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.

Cheapest SkyTeam awards to Puerto Rico

Flying Blue now offers a pricing calculator, which will let you know the minimum number of miles needed for an award. For instance, a one-way ticket from Delta Air Lines’ Atlanta (ATL) hub to Punta Cana (PUJ) starts at 16,500 FlyingBlue miles one-way in economy.

Screengrab from FlyingBlue
Screengrab from FlyingBlue

The best way to earn Flying Blue miles is by using a transferrable points card. You can transfer points to Flying Blue from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One miles, Citi ThankYou, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Amex, Citi and Chase transfer at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One transfers at a 1:1.5 ratio and Marriott transfers at a 3:1 ratio.

Delta usually has cheap flights from its Atlanta hub. If you’re low on Delta SkyMiles, there are several Amex-branded cards for you to choose from:

Finally, you can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points directly to Delta at a 1:1 ratio. This allows you to convert points earned on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the American Express® Gold Card into SkyMiles. There are other Amex transfer partners that could offer better value for your Membership Rewards points. But under the right circumstances, this could be a great way to boost your Delta account balance.

Hotels

There are many points hotels in the Dominican Republic, including Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and even Choice Hotels. I’ll walk through some of the many hotels on the island so you can get a sense of what’s the best deal for your points. For more about earning hotel points, check out our guide to the best hotel credit cards.

Choice Hotels

There are a whopping 13 Choice Hotels in the Dominican Republic, including luxury Secrets, Ascend and Breathless properties. Rates start at 10,000 Choice Privileges points per night in November. Choice Privileges is the loyalty program for Choice Hotels. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to Choice.

Related: Best hotel credit cards

Hilton

You have a range of options in the Dominican Republic, from Homewood Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, Hampton by Hilton Santo Domingo Airport, Hilton La Romana, which has separate adult and family-friendly sections. 

These properties start at 28,000 points per night in November. Remember, Membership Rewards transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio, though sometimes Amex runs targeted transfer bonuses.

If you’re still short on points, here are some of the best Hilton cards you should consider adding to your wallet (terms apply):

If you have Hilton Honors elite status, included with all of the above cards, you’ll get the fifth night free on award stays of five consecutive nights or longer.

The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Hyatt

There are five World of Hyatt properties in the Dominican Republic, all of which are resorts. Each resort hovers between 20,000-25,000 Hyatt points a night. The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana is a family-friendly resort with infinity pools and a dozen restaurants and bars on-site. 

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy

Its sister property, the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, is adults-only and features over two dozen unique restaurants and bars, including a swim-up bar. 

World of Hyatt points aren’t the easiest to earn, but credit cards like the World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee) can get you to your next redemption. The World of Hyatt card offers up to 60,000 bonus points. You’ll earn 30,000 Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 more Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spend on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 in the first six months of account opening.

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re short on Ultimate Rewards, you can stock up by applying for a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Just keep the Chase 5/24 rule in mind.

IHG

If you have IHG Rewards Club points, your best option is InterContinental Hotels Real Santo Domingo, which starts at 32,500 points a night in November. Otherwise, the Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo and Holiday Inn Santo Domingo start at 12,500 and 20,000 points per night, respectively. Keep in mind that IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders can get a fourth award night free when booking consecutively.

There are two primary ways to earn IHG Rewards Club points through credit cards. Specifically, you can earn using a cobranded IHG card or you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned from a Chase Ultimate Rewards card.

Marriott

You have seven Marriott Bonvoy hotels to choose from in the Dominican Republic. They range from lower Category 3 hotels like Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village to Category 6 Westin Puntacana Resort & Club. The new Ocean Club Costa Norte, a Category 8 resort, will open in October.

The Westin Puntcana Resort & Club (Photo courtesy of the hotel)
The Westin Puntcana Resort & Club (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

You can transfer both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re still short, there are several solid card choices you may want to consider:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. Plus, earn up to $200 in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants within the first six months of card membership. Offer ends 5/12/2021.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn up to $150 back in statement credits on eligible purchases made on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer ends 5/12/21. Terms apply. 
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 30,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening

Remember, you’ll get the fifth night free on all award stays.

Activities 

If you have a ton of points saved up, you can use Chase’s Things to Do” portal to search for activities in DR. This might not be the best use of your points, however.

If you already have some Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned via the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, for instance, they are only worth 1 to 1.25 cents each toward travel.

Ground transportation

Rideshare services like Uber are plentiful in the Dominican Republic, but if you want to take a day trip away from your resort, you’ll likely want to rent a car.

There are two ways you can use your points to rent a car. The first is to pay with a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Discover it Miles. These cards allow you to redeem miles for any travel purchase, including car rentals.

The other way is to redeem rewards directly for rental car reservations. For instance, programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards offer these options.

Rental Cars in a lot
(Photo by alexfan32/Shutterstock)

For example, when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you can pay with points and still receive primary car rental insurance by paying with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Sapphire Preferred allows you to redeem each point at 1.25 cents each, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a higher redemption of 1.5 cents each.

Reserving a rental car through the Ultimate Rewards portal is similar to both flights and hotels.

  • From the main landing page, navigate to the ‘cars’ header and type in your itinerary.
  • Hit search and the results page will pop up.
  • All you need to do is enter your pick up and drop off location, date and time. You’ll then be able to pick your preferred car and sort by how many points you need to redeem.

When you redeem points directly for a rental car, you’re not paying for your rental with your credit card. So you usually won’t be covered by your credit card’s auto rental insurance policy (with the exceptions mentioned above).

Bottom line

If you’re looking for warm weather and great food without wiping out your points balance, the Dominican Republic should be on your list. It’s pretty cheap to fly there on points and miles and you’ll find mid-tier and luxury hotels perfect for solo, group or family travel.

Because you’re saving money by using points, it means you have more cash in your wallet for experiences, such as experiencing the Dominican Republic’s excellent food scene.

Featured photo by Stanley Chen Xi Landscape and Architecture Photographer/Getty Images

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
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  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
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