How to get to Puerto Rico on points and miles

Oct 10, 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.

Puerto Rico began welcoming tourists earlier this summer and many weary travelers are making plans to visit the island. Even better: No passport is required if you’re a U.S. citizen, so you can board a flight with just your state I.D. 

All visitors to Puerto Rico must have a negative test result taken no more than 72 hours before arrival and must wear a face covering in public areas. Restaurants and attractions like museums are operating at 50 percent capacity to encourage social distancing.

With dozens of nonstop flights to and from the island and lots of options for hotels you can book with points, your Puerto Rico vacation is within reach.

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Beautiful typical traditional vibrant street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by dennisvdw/Getty Images)
Beautiful typical traditional vibrant street in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by dennisvdw/Getty Images.)

In This Post

Airfare

You have plenty, and I mean plenty of options for getting to Puerto Rico cheaply. In addition to the Puerto Rico flight deals we send out periodically, you have several points options.

Cheapest Oneworld awards to Puerto Rico

You can use British Airways Avios points on American Airlines flights if you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. to score a great deal to Puerto Rico. A one-way flight to Puerto Rico from Miami (MIA) will cost you 9,000 Avios plus $5.60 for economy and 16,500 Avios for business class.

Avios are incredibly 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

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 or 25,000 in business class.

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.

Cheapest Star Alliance awards to Puerto Rico

The best way to get to San Juan is by using Turkish Miles & Smiles 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 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 San Juan (SJU) for just 17,500 miles one-way plus $5.60 in taxes in November.

United MileagePlus screengrab
Photo courtesy of United MileagePlus

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: $525 annual fee; waived the first year
  • United Explorer Card: Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open. 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 spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening.

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. I ran several searches from airports like New York and Atlanta and the cheapest economy award ticket I found was 17,500 FlyingBlue miles one-way from Miami on Delta Air Lines.

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 is also pretty generous from its Atlanta hub, with flights as low as 11,500 SkyMiles one-way in Main Cabin or 23,000 miles in first.

Photo courtesy of Delta SkyMiles

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 on the island, 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.

Hilton

You have seven Hilton hotels to choose from in Puerto Rico. The Hilton Ponce Golf & Casino Resort is the only one located outside of the San Juan area. It’s also home to one of the largest casinos in Puerto Rico. It has a 27-hole golf course, as well as a large pool and tennis courts.

An oceanfront patio room will typically set you back 43,000 Hilton Honors points a night in December. It’s a pretty good deal if you find yourself on the other side of the island.

You have a range of options in the San Juan area, from the Caribe Hilton to the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Juan, Embassy Suites by Hilton San Juan Hotel & Casino and the Hampton Inn & Suites San Juan. Thes properties start at 38,000 points per night in December. 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):

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card: Earn 80,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening
  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 130,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new Card to purchase an Expert Flyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year. 
  • The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 130,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening
  • Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Plus, earn a one-time $100 statement credit after using your new Card to purchase an Expert Flyer Premium annual subscription ($99.99 plus applicable taxes, followed by automatic renewal) within your first year. 

ExpertFlyer is owned by TPG’s parent company, Red Ventures.

If you have Hilton Honors elite status, you’ll enjoy a fifth night free on award stays of five consecutive nights or longer.

Hyatt

There are several World of Hyatt properties in Puerto Rico, mostly in the San Juan area. They range from functional to luxurious.

During my trip, I wanted to decompress and get off the grid. I booked a three-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico for 36,000 Hyatt points. I didn’t expect to be blown away by a Category 3 property, but the Grand Reserve completely exceeded my expectations. The resort offers a private beach, swim-up bar, spa, and is close to the El Yunque National Rainforest.

If you’re set on being near San Juan, the lower-tier Hyatt Place or Hyatt House properties in San Juan will only set you back 12,000 points a night. Both properties are close to Old San Juan and the airport. 

If you want to visit the Bacardi Distillery, the Hyatt Place San Juan/Bayamón is only 8,000 points per night. The Hyatt Place Manatí is just 12,000 points a night and located close to Mar Chiquita, Los Tubos Beach, and La Cueva de Los Golondrinas.

There’s also the Category 5 Olive Boutique Hotel, which goes for 20,000 points a night for a luxurious La Petite Suite, which includes an indoor veranda with a dining table.

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 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 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.

Looking for more tips for your Puerto Rico vacation? Check out TPG’s Puerto Rico hub for everything you need to know.

IHG

If you have IHG Rewards Club points, you might want to look at the Intercontinental San Juan or the Holiday Inn Express San Juan Condado. In November, the Intercontinental goes for 30,000 points per night while the Holiday Inn requires 20,000 points. According to IHG, the Intercontinental will no longer be an IHG-branded hotel after Dec. 1, 2020, so if you have plans to stay, you may want to book soon.

With the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can get a fourth award night reward when you book consecutively.

Marriott Bonvoy

You have over a dozen Marriott Bonvoy hotels to choose from throughout Puerto Rico. They range from lower-category hotels like Four Points by Sheraton and Aloft to The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, which is considered one of the island’s best. An off-peak night at the St. Regis will cost you 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, while the standard is 85,000 a night and peak is a whopping 100,000 points a night.

St. Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)
St. Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.)

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 up to 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of Card Membership. Enjoy complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year. Offer Expires 1/13/2021.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Earn up to $150 in statement credits within your first 6 months of Card Membership for all eligible purchases on your Card on U.S. Advertising in select Media. Plus receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status for one year (February 1, 2021-January 31, 2022). Offer ends 1/13/21.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 5 free nights after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three 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.

Activities 

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

During my trip, I stayed at a resort an hour outside San Juan. While I had a fantastic time, getting around proved to be a hassle. Uber is plentiful in San Juan but you may have trouble getting a ride if you’re further outside the city. It’s also pretty costly if you’re not staying in the city. Ubers from my resort to the airport and Old San Juan easily topped $30 each way.

If you’re staying outside of the major cities, you should consider renting a car. San Juan airport offers several options, including Hertz, Avis, and Enterprise.

Related: A beginner’s guide to visiting Puerto Rico: Everything you need to eat, see and do

Using miles for a rental car

There are two ways you can use your miles 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 the Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Rewards all offer these options.

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.

Photo courtesy of Chase

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

  1. From the main landing page, navigate to the ‘cars’ header and type in your itinerary.
  2. Hit search and the results page will pop up.
  3. 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.
Photo courtesy of Chase

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 a quick getaway that won’t completely wipe out your points balance, Puerto Rico should be high on your list. The island offers a healthy mix of budget, standard and luxury hotels. Coupled with how easy it is to travel here on points, it’s a great option 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 Puerto Rico’s lush nature and amazing food.

Photo courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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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 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • 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.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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