How to get to Los Cabos on points and miles

Nov 30, 2020

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Lately, it seems like everyone’s going to Mexico. Sure, it’s one of the few destinations completely open to American travelers. But travelers are also drawn to the country because of cheap (and short) flights and affordable hotels. While it seems like everybody’s been flocking to Tulum, Cancun or Mexico City in recent months, there’s another option with just as much promise: Los Cabos. 

Here’s what you need to know about getting to Cabo (and staying there) using points and miles.

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Airfare

When I visited Cabo in 2018, I managed to score a cheap cash fare from Washington for only $250 round-trip. Even better, I booked just a few days before my mid-July trip. Because it wasn’t a long-haul, I was fine with flying basic economy on American Airlines, even though I was limited to a carry-on bag.

That said, if you don’t want to pay cash, there are several ways to put your miles to use. Whether you’re staying in Cabo San Lucas or San Jose del Cabo (the two are roughly 20 miles apart), you’ll fly into San Jose Del Cabo (SJD).

Cheapest Oneworld awards to Los Cabos

Your best bet is to use either American Airlines AAdvantage miles or British Airways Avios. If you take advantage of American’s off-peak dates, you can snag round-trip economy tickets for just 12,500 miles plus taxes and fees one-way. If you prefer to fly up-front, that price will increase to 25,000 miles one-way.

Screengrab from American

If you’re low on AAdvantage miles, one of the easiest ways to earn them is through sign-up bonuses and everyday spending on co-branded credit cards. 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.

British Airways uses a distance-based award chart, instead of a traditional zone-based one. That means you can score big on short-haul partner flights starting at just 9,000 Avios round-trip in American’s economy class.

Screengrab from British Airways

Avios are easy to collect thanks to British Airways’ partnership with three major transferable points currencies. You can transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer from Marriott at a 3:1 ratio (plus a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer).

Related: Maximizing the British Airways Distance-Based Award Chart

Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Los Cabos

Turkish Miles & Smiles is the best Star Alliance option, with awards for 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 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 doesn’t publish an award chart anymore, but you can still find cheap fares down to Mexico. One-way award tickets to Cabo from Chicago (ORD) start at just 17,500 MileagePlus miles each way in economy in March. Meanwhile, business class starts at 30,000 miles.

Screengrab from United

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:

The information for the United Club 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 SkyTeam awards to Los Cabos

Air France and KLM Royal Dutch’s loyalty program is called Flying Blue, which you can search for Delta awards. One thing to note is that all Flying Blue award tickets are priced dynamically, which means that there’s no set award chart and that some tickets can be costly. 

Screengrab from FlyingBlue

Instead, Flying Blue now offers a pricing calculator, which will let you know the minimum number of miles needed for an award. I ran several searches from airports like Miami (MIA) and Salt Lake City (SLC) and the cheapest awards I found cost 14,500 miles one-way in economy or 36,000 miles one-way in business.

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.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Like United, Delta also uses dynamic pricing. But you can still snag great award availability on short-haul flights. For instance, a round-trip November flight from Atlanta (ATL) to Cabo starts at just 26,000 SkyMiles round-trip in basic economy, but just 32,000 miles in Main Cabin and 50,000 in Comfort+.

Delta SkyMiles has one credit card transfer partner: American Express Membership Rewards. You can transfer Membership Rewards points to Delta SkyMiles at a 1:1 ratio. You can also transfer hotel points from a variety of programs to your Delta SkyMiles account.

Here’s a look at the full suite of Delta SkyMiles credit cards from American Express (terms apply):

Personal cards:

Hotels

You’ll find Choice, Hilton, IHG, Marriott and Hyatt hotels between Los Cabos and Cabo San Lucas, along with other smaller hotels. When I visited Cabo in 2018 (I stayed in Cabo San Lucas), I stayed in a small boutique hotel. I loved it, but keep in mind that you might be subjected to a timeshare presentation like I was.

Choice Hotels

There are four Choice-branded hotels in the region, ranging from the modest Comfort Inn & Suites Los Cabos at 8,000 Choice points a night to Secrets Puerto Los Cabos Golf Spa Resort, Ascend Hotel Collection at 100,000 points a night.

If you frequently stay at Choice Hotels properties, you may want to get the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card. That’s because this card earns 15 Choice points per dollar spent at eligible Choice Hotels, which equates to a 9% return based on TPG’s valuations. The information for the Choice Privileges Visa 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.

You could also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Choice Privileges at a 1:1 ratio or convert Amtrak Guest Rewards into Choice Privileges points. You’ll get 15,000 Choice Privilege points for every 5,000 Amtrak points transferred.

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Choice Privileges

Hilton

There are four Hilton properties in the area. Hilton no longer publishes award chart and causes frequent heartburn with its seasonal pricing. For instance, rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal start at a whopping 380,000 Hilton Honors points a night and go up to an astronomical 1.7 million points per night in April.

The Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal opens in late 2019 (Image courtesy of Hilton)

That said, there are plenty of ways to extract substantial value, like at the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Los Cabos, which you can score for 17,000 Hilton Honors points for April dates. 

There are a variety of ways to boost your Hilton Honors account balance. One of the quickest ways is by adding one of the program’s co-branded credit cards to your wallet. Here are the current options:

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Hilton Honors

IHG

There is one IHG property in the area, the Holiday Inn Express Cabo San Lucas, with rates starting at 12,500 points per night.

Holiday Inn Resort Los Cabos. Photo courtesy of Holiday Inn Hotels.

There are two IHG Rewards Club credit cards currently accepting applications. The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card earns up to 25x points total at IHG hotels and resorts, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants, and 1x on everything else. The IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card earns 5x points at IHG hotels and resorts, 2x points at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants; and 1x on everything else. 

Finally, you can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards Club at a 1:1 ratio. However, we only value IHG Rewards Club points at 0.5 cents each, so you’ll only want to do this if you have a specific redemption in mind.

Related: The award traveler’s guide to IHG Rewards Club

Marriott

There are seven Marriott Bonvoy properties in the Cabo area, though not all of them are bookable using points. 

The best bang for your buck will be the Fairfield Inn Los Cabos, a Category 2 property starting at 10,000 points per night for off-peak dates. If you’re looking for more luxury, the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa, a Category 6 hotel, has PointSaver awards for as low as 35,000 points a night for off-peak dates. 

JW Marriott Los Cabos
JW Marriott Los Cabos (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

The Westin Los Cabos Resort Villas & Spa, also a Category 6 hotel, is 40,000 a night for off-peak dates. Finally, Solaz Los Cabos, a Category 7 property, can be booked for as low as 50,00 points a night during off-peak. Regardless of which option you choose, remember that you’ll get the fifth night free on award stays.

The fastest way to earn Marriott points is by spending on a co-branded credit card. You can transfer points from both Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio, but this usually represents a pretty poor redemption value.

If you’re short on Marriott points, there are several cards for you:

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Marriott Bonvoy

World of Hyatt

You’ll find three World of Hyatt properties in the area. The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, which we reviewed back in 2019, is perhaps the best hotel for your value in the region at just 25,000 Hyatt points a night. The all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos is another luxury option — and it’s cheaper, at 20,000 points a night. Finally, the Hyatt Place Los Cabos is a solid option for budget travelers at just 5,000 Hyatt points a night.

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

If you’re short on Hyatt points, The World of Hyatt Credit Card ($95 annual fee) can easily get you to your next redemption. The World of Hyatt card offers up to 50,000 bonus points. You’ll earn 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months and an additional 25,000 bonus points after spending a total of $6,000 within the first six months of account opening. 

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt. Points earned on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card transfer to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. 

Related: Your guide to the World of Hyatt award chart

Activities 

If you have a ton of points saved up, you can use Chase’s “Things to Do” portal to search for activities. 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 

If you want to drive in Cabo, you’ll need to pick up a car at the airport. The airport is served by major rental car companies like Hertz, Budget and National. If you have a card that earns cash back or transferable rewards, you can redeem them for car rentals.

The Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal is a great place to redeem points for rental cars. If you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents each, while Sapphire Preferred cardholders are worth 1.25 cents each. You’ll be eligible for primary car rental coverage if you use points tied to your Sapphire Preferred or Reserve account.

You can also redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for rental cars through Pay with Points. This isn’t the best value, considering you’ll get 0.7-0.85 cents of value out of each point, while TPG values Membership Rewards at 2 cents each. 

Related: 10 best ways to redeem your points and miles for a car rental

Bottom line

Unlike more popular destinations in Mexico, getting to and staying in Los Cabos on points and miles is fairly simple. Even if you don’t have hundreds of thousands of miles and points banked up, you can still have an enjoyable time, especially if you consider booking lower-end hotels, staying off-peak dates or using an airline’s (for instance, American’s) off-peak award chart.

Featured photo of the Cape Los Cabos by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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