How Can I Pay for a Maldives Seaplane Transfer with Points?
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.
The new Marriott award chart was announced last week, and with it came a temporary redemption sweet spot for one of the best hotels in the world: the St. Regis Maldives. While the news is exciting, TPG reader Aliza notes there's one part of the journey that can be difficult to cover with points or miles...
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Aliza"]Is there anyway to avoid paying the the $650 round-trip seaplane cost to the Maldives?[/pullquote]
While you can use points and miles to get nearly all the way to the Maldives, it's the very last part at the end that can trip you up: the seaplane (or boat) transfer to your preferred resort. The cost of that transfer can range from $100 for a round-trip boat ride to the Kandooma Maldives, an IHG property, to $645 round-trip per person for a flight to St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.
If you're traveling as a group, some of those costs can really add up. A family of four would have to shell out nearly $2600 to fly from Malé (MLE) to Vommuli!
So what can you do to lower the cost? There are two simple methods. The first is using points or miles from a credit card that allow you to "wipe away" travel purchases directly from your statement. Cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or, if you're a business owner, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business are great options for this. You're only going to get 1 cent per point in value, but both cards earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases (Spark Miles also earns 5x miles on hotels and car rentals when booked through Capital One Travel) for an effective 2% return on your spending. So, you could apply 50,000 Venture miles to cover the cost of a $500 seaplane ticket. The information for the Capital One Spark Miles for Business has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Here's a list of cards that are solid options when redeeming points directly as statement credits against travel purchases or for cash back:
|Point Value||Earning||Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||1 cent||2x miles on everything (10x miles on Hotels.com purchases when booked and paid via Hotels.com/venture) (ends Jan. 31, 2020)||50,000 miles after $3,000 in spend in 3 months||$95 (waived 1st year)|
|Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card||1 cent||1.25x miles on everything||20,000 miles after $1,000 in spend in 3 months||$0|
|Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card||1 cent||2-3.5x points on travel and dining. 1.5-2.62x on everything else.||50,000 points after $3,000 in spend in 90 days||$95|
|Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard||1.05 cents||2x miles on everything||70,000 miles after $5,000 in spend in 90 days||$89 (waived 1st year)|
|Capital One Spark Miles for Business||1 cent||Earn 5x miles on hotels and car rentals when booked through Capital One Travel, and 2x miles on all other purchases||Earn up to 200,000 bonus miles; 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months and earn 150,000 bonus miles when you spend $50,000 in the first 6 months of your account opening.||$95 (waived 1st year)|
The second, and even easier option, is to use a travel credit from a credit card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 credit that automatically applies to any travel purchase, in this case a seaplane or boat transfer. The US Bank Altitude Reserve card has a similar credit, although a bit higher at $325 per year. Since these credits apply automatically, you'll want to make sure to time the purchase of your seaplane or boat ride to coincide with when your account is eligible for the credit.
Finally, if you decide you're not going to use points or a travel credit and instead will pay straight cash, you'll want to use a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases. Your best bet is again the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which would net you a 3x points per dollar on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) or a 6.3% return according to TPG's latest valuations. The Citi Premier® Card also offers 3x points on travel (a 5.1% return) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can work too, earning 2x points on travel.
For more on saving money in the Maldives, check out our coverage here:
- The Best Ways to Get to the Maldives on Points and Miles
- Tips for Dealing With Those Extra Fees in the Maldives
- Booking a Honeymoon Trip to the Maldives — Reader Success Story
- Why I Booked a Trip to the Maldives Last December