Puerto Rico reopens in July – here’s how to get there on points

Jun 30, 2020

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If you’re looking for an affordable getaway this year, Puerto Rico should definitely be at the top of your list. Even better: No passport is required if you’re a U.S. citizen, so you can board a flight with just your state ID. Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and earthquakes have battered the island this year; Puerto Ricans are working tirelessly to rebuild their beloved island and welcome tourists on July 15.

With dozens of nonstop flights to and from the island and a plethora of points hotels, your Puerto Rican 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

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

Getting there

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.

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.

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.

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

Delta is even more 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

Where to stay

There are a plethora of 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.

World of 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.

(Photo courtesy of Hyatt.)

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 Golondrinos.

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.

Remember, if you’re low on Hyatt points, you can 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.

The information for the Ink Business Preferred 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.

Hilton Honors

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 August. It’s a pretty good deal if you find yourself on the other side of the island.

(Photo courtesy of Hilton.)

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 go for 40,000 points per night in August. 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, you’ll enjoy a fifth night free on award stays of five consecutive nights or longer.

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, considered to be 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.

Through June 30, Marriott is expanding off-peak pricing for award stays through July 31, 2020.

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:

IHG Rewards Club

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 August, the Intercontinental goes for 30,000 points per night while the Holiday Inn requires 20,000 points. With the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can get a fourth award night free when you book consecutively.

Choice Privileges

While certainly not fancy, there are two Choice Hotels on the island: Comfort Inn & Suites and Comfort Inn. Both hotels start at 16,000 Choice Privileges points per night in August.

Getting around in Puerto Rico

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.

Using points for a rental 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 points 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 by dennisvdw/Getty Images

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