Save points by booking all-inclusive resorts through your credit card portal

May 24, 2021

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Here at TPG, we’re all about maximizing your rewards, which is why we do everything from providing monthly points valuations to writing guides showing you how to stretch your points. We often suggest using transferable points to get outsized value on your redemptions, but sometimes that doesn’t make sense.

I experienced this scenario when I was tasked with booking my family of four adults into an all-inclusive resort for a two-night weekend getaway. I’m not overly familiar with booking all-inclusive resorts with points, but I know that many large hotel chains operate them. Puerto Vallarta, where we were heading, is full of such resorts.

As four adults traveling together, we needed two rooms because I’m nearly 30 and I’m not sleeping in a bed with my brother. My parents were footing the bill using their rewards points stash and it was up to me to find the best way to spend them. So where could we stay?

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In This Post

Booking a Hilton all-inclusive resort

Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort (Photo courtesy of Hilton Hotels.)

As a Diamond Hilton elite member (courtesy of the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card), my first thought was to check out the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort. However, when I looked, the nightly award rate was 57,000 points per room, based on double occupancy — worth $342 based on TPG valuations.

Since the resort is already all-inclusive, being a Diamond member, unfortunately, doesn’t mean much. After all, who needs lounge access when poolside drinks are included? Additionally, my parents didn’t have points in their Hilton account and would have needed to transfer 114,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for two nights in two rooms. This is because Membership Rewards transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.

The cash rate for the same stay was just $269 per night, meaning I’d be getting 0.47 cents per point from Hilton — well below TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point. It was an especially bad deal for Amex Membership Rewards, valued at 2 cents per point — this redemption would have gotten 0.94 cents per Membership Rewards point.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex 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.

Related: Maximizing Hilton Honors redemptions

Booking a Hyatt all-inclusive resort

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

Another option was the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. As an all-inclusive resort, the nightly rate was 20,000 Hyatt points for two adults:

Hyatt award rates
No king bedrooms were available either, meaning my parents would be stuck sleeping separately. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

I’m a World of Hyatt Explorist elite (thanks to my M life Gold status), so we’d hopefully be upgraded to the Club Tower, which offers premium spirits and other amenities. However, we would have needed to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to cover the cost of the hotel. Ultimate Rewards transfer to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio, which is generally considered pretty good, but we would be out of pocket 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points in this case.

The cash rate for this stay was $528 per room using a Hyatt member rate (non-members would be charged an astronomical $732 per night). The redemption value for this proposition is slightly better than with Hilton, at 1.3 cents per point ($528/40,000 points), but TPG values Chase Ultimate Rewards at 2 cents each, so we’re still falling short.

Related: Your guide to maximizing redemptions with Hyatt

Booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal

Though it’s easy to overlook booking hotels directly on a bank travel portal, in this case, it made a ton of sense. If you’re a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder, your points are worth a flat 1.5 cents each when booking a hotel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal. Check out these prices:

Chase travel portal
These are just a few examples of all-inclusive hotels available on Chase’s portal. (Photo courtesy of Chase)

The Barceló Puerto Vallarta instantly caught my eye. I’ve stayed in one of their properties previously and had a phenomenal time, so I knew my family was in for a treat.

Chase travel portal
(Photo courtesy of Chase)

At this rate, we would pay 38,252 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for two rooms for two nights. This is less than half the cost of the Hyatt at an equally nice (if not nicer) hotel.

Related: How to book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Booking through the Citi ThankYou Rewards travel portal

Though recently devalued, those with the Citi Premier® Card and Citi Prestige® Card can redeem their points on Citi’s travel portal for a flat 1 cent each. That’s not a great rate, but the ThankYou portal has one thing going for it — you can use your points in conjunction with the Prestige’s fourth-night-free benefit to essentially get a 25% discount on a four-night stay. However, keep in mind that Citi has limited this benefit to use just twice a year, so make sure it’s worth your while.

The information for the Citi Prestige 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.          

There are quite a few options on Citi’s website, but this is both the cheapest and most highly-rated all-inclusive I could find:

Citi travel portal
(Photo courtesy of Citi)
Citi travel portal
(Photo courtesy of Citi)

Related: When should I transfer points to airline and hotel partners?

With the fourth night free, we’d end up paying right around 35,000 points for each room, for a total of 69,054 Citi ThankYou points for two rooms for four nights (if we’d been staying for four nights). While this isn’t as phenomenal a redemption as booking through the Chase portal, it is a good option if you have ThankYou points to spare, especially because Citi doesn’t have any hotel transfer partners.

Bottom line

We spend a lot of time talking about transfer partners and maximizing your rewards, but sometimes your best option is to keep it simple. Check your travel portals to see if there’s something better, especially in the case of boutique hotels where status doesn’t matter. In our case, my family was able to enjoy a long weekend in Mexico for half the cost of other hotels, ultimately meaning we had more to spend for the good stuff, like jet skiing, fishing and spa days, all without breaking the (points) bank.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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