How I took my dad to Mexico City with a winning combination of vouchers, credits and points
I recently took an impromptu trip to Mexico City. Even better, I brought my dad along for a "meet in the middle" trip, since I live in California and he lives in Florida.
Using points, miles, credit card perks and an expiring airline voucher, I got the two of us to one of my favorite cities in the world for a long weekend. Here's how my dad and I spent three nights in Mexico City for just $333.10 — including daily breakfast and dinner.
The inspiration for a last-minute trip to Mexico
As the year ends, I am working on several outstanding credit card benefits that I need to "use or lose." This included up to $200 in hotel credits with The Platinum Card® from American Express. I also had a flight voucher with Aeromexico from a canceled flight last year, and this was set to expire Dec. 31.
I also needed three more nights with Hyatt to requalify for Globalist status this year. Thus, my ideal scenario included using my $200 in hotel credits at a Hyatt location served by Aeromexico, so it looked like I was heading to Mexico at some point in December.
As my wife and I started discussing this plan, I received an email from my mom saying she was booking a short-notice cruise with a friend. "Why don't you take your dad somewhere while your mom is on her trip?" my wife suggested. Perfect idea. My dad had never been to Mexico City, and we could spend a long weekend there to meet somewhere between Florida and California.
Related: 11 things you should know before visiting Mexico
What I had available for booking the trip
As mentioned, I had an Aeromexico voucher that would expire Dec. 31. After using this for round-trip flights between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Mexico City International Airport (MEX), I paid only an additional $26.91. I earned 135 Membership Rewards points by paying for this with my Amex Platinum Card.
I found the Hyatt Regency Mexico City listed in The Hotel Collection for our hotel. These bookings require a minimum stay of two nights and offer benefits that vary by hotel. From my previous bookings, I have received on-property benefits like spending credits and free spa treatments.
Related: A comparison of luxury hotel programs from credit card issuers: Amex, Chase and Capital One
The total price on this two-night reservation was $374, but I received a statement credit of $200 from American Express to bring the cost down to $174.
To minimize costs, I booked the third night of our stay using World of Hyatt points. The Hyatt Regency Mexico City is a Category 4 property but was using off-peak pricing during our trip. Thus, I could book a room for 9,000 points and get a redemption value of 2 cents per point.
Related: What are points and miles worth? TPG’s monthly valuations
While it's not guaranteed, I felt confident I would receive stay credit with World of Hyatt for all three nights of our stay. I've received stay credit on every stay from The Hotel Collection or Fine Hotels + Resorts when booking a property that participates in World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, and I did receive credit for this stay.
Since I had my flights and the hotel arranged, I started looking for my dad's flights. I had miles trapped in my Delta SkyMiles and British Airways Executive Club accounts after canceled flights. My goal was to use those and avoid transferring points out of my Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards accounts.
Since it was just a weekend trip, neither of us needed to check a bag. That made booking options easier and cheaper.
For the return flights, I used 18,000 Avios plus $93.19 for my dad to fly on American Airlines. Unfortunately, British Airways' website wasn't showing any flights for the outbound date of our trip.
Because of this, my dad flew to Mexico City on Delta Air Lines. I used 36,000 SkyMiles and paid $39 in taxes and fees.
If we had paid cash, the cheapest round-trip option for my father's flights would have cost $575. Instead, I paid 18,000 Avios, 36,000 SkyMiles and just $132.19 out of pocket.
Getting free meals along the way
The Hyatt Regency Mexico City recognized my Hyatt Globalist status and upgraded us to a room on the 36th floor with Regency Club lounge access. Here, we had access to a daily breakfast buffet, afternoon snacks and light bites at dinner time. These were available without cost, as were drinks throughout the day.
Related: These are the best Latin American cities to use your points and miles
Additionally, the hotel provided a $100 on-property credit to use during the dates covered by our Hotel Collection booking. Since we didn't have a rental car or the need to pay for parking, we used our credit at the hotel's restaurants. We picked up daily lattes and sweets plus a Christmas ornament for my parents' tree from the Amado and Amado Market near the hotel lobby. One afternoon, we also had sushi and tempura at the Yoshimi Japanese restaurant near the hotel lobby. All of these were covered by our $100 spending credit, meaning we had nothing to pay at checkout.
Other dining options at the hotel include the Teppan Grill — providing teppanyaki-style Japanese cooking prepared right in front of you — and Rulfo, which cooks South American specialties like empanadas, ceviche and Argentinian churrasco.
My dad and I spent the weekend visiting museums, riding the hop-on, hop-off bus and eating our weight in tacos. We didn't pay for breakfast or dinner during our stay, thanks to free food at the hotel, and we also had $100 to spend at the hotel, which we used to cover additional meals.
Related: 13 things every tourist must eat (and drink) in Mexico City
Taking two people from opposite sides of the U.S. to Mexico City for a long weekend might seem like a tall order. Instead, it lined up perfectly with the items I had available for a trip. I stacked an expiring flight voucher, hotel credits and frequent flyer miles to get my dad and I to another country for three nights. I did so by spending just $333.10 instead of $1,646, which was the cash cost for our hotel and flights on our dates of travel. And I booked all of this just 10 days before our trip.
It wasn't the most valuable points redemption I've ever made (in terms of cents-per-point value), but the memories make it one of the best redemptions I've ever made.
Feeling inspired to explore Mexico but not sure where to start, let Elsewhere travel experts plan your trip. (Elsewhere is owned by TPG's sister brand, Lonely Planet.)