5 Memorial Day trips you can still book with points and miles
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Memorial Day is right around the corner. For many of us, that means it’s time to break out the grills and kick off summer with family and friends. If you don’t have plans already, you might consider using the three-day weekend to travel — especially if you’ve been stockpiling your points and miles during the pandemic.
Although more Americans are starting to travel again, and cash rates are spiking, we’re still seeing some last-minute deals to popular vacation spots. If you’re looking for a little bit of Memorial Day trip-spiration, here are some of your best options.
Note that the availability shown below was accurate at the time of writing but is subject to change. Depending on your departure city and the number of miles you’ve accrued, your specific options may be different.
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There’s no place more fitting to celebrate Memorial Day than our nation’s capital. Washington, D.C., is a walkable city, and it’s a perfect place to enjoy warm weather while eating, drinking and seeing the sights.
The city’s most convenient airport, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), is a short ride from Capitol Hill. Award rates are dynamic, but you can currently book a round-trip journey from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for around 30,000 United Airlines MileagePlus miles. Not too bad, considering standard main cabin tickets are going for around $350 when paying cash.
Alternatively, you can book your United flights through Avianca LifeMiles. Quickly top off your United account by transferring points from Chase Ultimate Rewards or your LifeMiles balance by transferring points from American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One or Citi ThankYou Rewards.
The biggest airport in the area is Dulles International Airport (IAD), which is a United hub. The airport is located farther into Virginia, so it doesn’t provide the same easy access to the city that DCA does. However, on United, we found flights for 24,000 MileagePlus miles round-trip from both New York-area airports and from Miami — a solid deal on a holiday weekend.
We’re seeing some World of Hyatt point redemption options that make us want to head to Washington, D.C. For instance, the Grand Hyatt Washington and the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill each cost just 12,000 points per night. Although it’s not the most luxurious Park Hyatt out there, you could also stay at the Park Hyatt Washington, D.C. The rooms are spacious and cost just 17,000 World of Hyatt points per night during the holiday weekend. The property’s amenities include an indoor saltwater swimming pool. You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt or utilize points earned with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
The city is home to several high-end and historic hotels, including the Washington Hilton, which hosts the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. During Memorial Day weekend, this hotel is available for 60,000 Hilton points per night. For a more economical redemption, the Motto by Hilton Washington DC City Center provides easy access to the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station and to DCA for about 50,000 points per night.
If you’re looking for something more luxurious, book a stay at the Conrad Washington, DC. The property received high marks from TPG’s executive editor Scott Mayerowitz, who reviewed the property in 2019. The hotel is available for 80,000 points per night during the holiday weekend. Keep in mind that Hilton Honors members can register for a new promotion that allows travelers to earn triple points on eligible hotel stays within the Hilton portfolio through September.
Meanwhile, Marriott Bonvoy loyalists could consider the JW Marriott Washington, DC for 46,000 points a night. While this hotel doesn’t feel overly luxurious, the prime location just a block from the White House is hard to beat. You can also explore the city’s architectural gems by staying at the modern Ven at Embassy Row, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, for 43,000 points per night.
Austin is one of the most up-and-coming destinations in the U.S., with a fantastic music scene and barbecue restaurants that will make you want to stay forever. Given its location in the middle of the country, Austin is also easily accessible for people coming from either coast who don’t want to waste too much of their vacation on a plane.
We’re seeing cheap round-trip Delta award space from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) throughout the weekend:
If you’re swimming in IHG points from the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, you can book the Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt to experience one of the quirkiest hotel brands in the U.S. The hotel puts you right near all the live music, hip bars and restaurants on Rainey Street for 63,000 points per night.
Meanwhile, Hilton Honors members can book the Hilton Austin at a fairly standard rate of 60,000 Hilton points per night. It’s conveniently located downtown, just a short walk away from Sixth Street nightlife and the Rainey Street Historic District. Amenities include a full-service spa and rooftop pool.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation without traveling far, there are plenty of beaches to explore in the Sunshine State.
If you have some flexibility in your travel dates, Delta offers flights from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW) and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) for as little as 16,000 miles round-trip.
Whether you fly into Fort Lauderdale or Miami, it’s easy to find a hotel and a location that matches the vacation vibe you’re after. If you’re looking for a fancy but relaxing trip, book The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort. Located in Bal Harbour at the northern tip of Miami Beach, the hotel gives you direct beach access and a bit of a reprieve from the nonstop party of South Beach. A Marriott Bonvoy hotel, a free night here will cost you 70,000-100,000 points per night.
If a party is what you want, the W South Beach or W Fort Lauderdale might be better for you. Meanwhile, the Moxy Miami South Beach also offers a party vibe, but it’s more budget-friendly — free nights cost just 30,000 to 40,000 points per night. You might even be able to redeem your annual free night certificate, which comes with many Bonvoy credit cards, for a night here.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
If you want to travel to the Caribbean but you’re nervous about the testing requirements upon return, consider a trip to Puerto Rico. Since the island is a U.S. territory, you won’t need a negative coronavirus test to fly home. Plus, you don’t need a passport for entry.
If you want a beachfront property, La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort is a solid option. It boasts five restaurants (including one shaped like a giant shell), three swimming pools and even a casino on site. Award nights require 40,000 to 60,000 points per night.
Alternatively, there’s the Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel, which sits near the bay in Old San Juan. Amenities include a beautiful rooftop pool overlooking the ocean. It’s part of the Marriott Bonvoy program, so awards here will set you back 30,000-40,000 points per night.
If you’d rather burn Hilton points, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Juan is still available for 60,000 points per night. It’s located in the Condado area, which offers easy access to the beach and a short commute to Old San Juan.
Memorial Day has a special meaning in Chicago, as it’s a sign that baseball season is in full swing. Whether you’re coming to root for or against the Cubs — or simply to enjoy a few slices of deep-dish pizza — trips to Chicago are still readily available for the upcoming long weekend.
ORD is a major hub for both United and American Airlines, so you should be able to find flights to Chicago from most major cities. Specifically, we’re seeing flights on United out of Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) for as low as 11,300 miles each way and from Houston‘s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) for slightly more. We’re also seeing some decent rates on American Airlines out of Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX).
The city’s second airport, Midway International Airport (MDW), is more than just a Southwest Airlines hub — it’s a fortress. You can still find round-trip flights to Chicago for less than 20,000 points from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). There are also flights available for about 10,000 points from Fort Lauderdale. If you have a Companion Pass (or two) in your family, you can cut the cost in half to pay effectively 5,000 or 10,000 points per person round-trip.
When it comes time to pick a hotel, Marriott is the way to go here. You have plenty of solid options that will cost 40,000 points per night or less. Some options include the W Chicago – City Center, W Chicago – Lakeshore, Westin Chicago River North and The Blackstone, an Autograph Collection property.
If you’re really getting into baseball season, check out the Hotel Zachary, a Tribute Portfolio property. This hotel is located right across the street from Wrigley Field and incorporates elements of the historic stadium into its design.
Despite the surge in paid bookings, there still are plenty of great Memorial Day trips available to book with points and miles. If you can’t make any of the above destinations work from your home airport or with your current stash of miles, try using the “Explore” map feature on Google Flights to find cheap cash fares.
You can then use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book tickets through Chase’s travel portal at a rate of 1.25 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Alternatively, you could book with a card like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and use your miles to “erase” the charge from your statement.
Additional reporting by Ethan Steinberg and Melissa Klurman.
Featured photo by John Coletti/Getty Images.
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