How points and miles saved me over $2,000 on a trip to Nantucket and Cape Cod
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I’ve lived in New York City for the past three years, but I haven’t explored much of the Northeast. Aside from occasional trips to Providence and Philadelphia to visit friends, most of my time here is spent in NYC. This year, one of my travel goals is to explore more nearby cities, whether in upstate New York or elsewhere.
Two of the places at the top of my list are Cape Cod and Nantucket. These regions are rich in history and — from what friends have told me — a great place to work remotely for a week. Plus, it’s easy to travel from New York City to Nantucket, with most major airlines operating nonstop service from at least one of New York’s three major airports.
I recently planned a trip to Nantucket and Cape Cod, mainly using points and miles. Here’s a look at how I booked flights, hotels and other transportation
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Booking flights Miles on JetBlue, Delta and Cape Air
Delta Air Lines operates seasonal nonstop flights to Nantucket (ACK) from New York-JFK and New York (LGA). These flights give New Yorkers an easy way to make the 199-mile journey without driving or stepping foot on a ferry. This can be a huge benefit given the drive from NYC to Hyannis — a Cape Cod town with direct ferry access to Nantucket — takes 6+ hours when there’s bad traffic.
Due to Delta SkyMiles‘ dynamic award pricing, award prices vary significantly on flights between NYC and Nantucket. For example, you’ll see prices range between 4,500 and 70,000 SkyMiles one-way this September. Those fares start at $60 each way, so you’re getting well over TPG valuation of 1.1 cents per point on a ticket that costs 4,500 SkyMiles.
JetBlue also operates seasonal flights to Nantucket from New York-JFK, New York (LGA) and Newark (EWR). JetBlue prices award tickets based on the cost of a cash ticket, so more expensive tickets cost more points.
I was able to book a one-way ticket from Newark that worked better for my schedule for just 7,500 TrueBlue points one-way. The same ticket cost $115, so I got 1.45 cents per point in value.
Returning to New York from Cape Cod with Delta and Cape Air
I plan to return from Hyannis (HYA) in Cape Cod. Currently, Cape Air serves this airport with nonstop flights to Boston (BOS). Delta and Cape Air recently announced a loyalty partnership, so I was able to book a one-way ticket from Hyannis to New York via Boston (BOS) for 20,000 SkyMiles in Main Cabin. The same ticket cost $242, so I’m getting 1.21 cents per mile in value.
One interesting thing to note: Cape Air operates a Cessna light aircraft between Hyannis and Boston. This flight is a first for me and will make for an exciting trip home.
While I could have gotten a better value redeeming my SkyMiles elsewhere, I wanted to save as much money as possible on this trip. Nantucket and Cape Cod are expensive, after all. So, the more money I can save on flights, the more money I can spend having a great time in the region. Plus, I’m working to burn down my SkyMiles balance anyway since a devaluation is always possible.
Interested in earning Delta SkyMiles? Here are the current offers for Delta cobranded credit cards:
- Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: Earn 70,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.
- Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card: Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card: Earn 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021
Paying for hotels in Nantucket and Cape Cod
Hotels are a big expense on any trip — and in Nantucket and Cape, budget properties are hard to find. Here’s a quick overview of the hotels I booked and how I used points to reduce my expenses a bit.
Nantucket is a no-go with points and miles
Hotels are notoriously expensive in Nantucket and there are no points hotels on the island. I did some research and found that there are only a handful of hotels available for under $300 per night this September. So, I opted to book three nights at The Beachside on Nantucket for $241 per night through Hotels.com. It’s a no-frills property near Jetties Beach and downtown Nantucket Town.
I booked through Hotels.com because I can earn Hotels.com Rewards nights on my stay. This program gives you one free night for every 10 nights you stay. Your free night is worth the average of your last 10 nights, effectively giving you a 10% discount on Hotels.com stays if you use the certificate for max value.
Plus, I’ll earn even more rewards because I clicked through a shopping portal before booking. At the time of writing, Rakuten offers 1% cashback on Hotels.com bookings. I have my Rakuten account set to earn American Express Membership Rewards points instead of cash back, so I’ll earn 808 Membership Rewards points on the $808 booking. These points are worth $16.16 per TPG’s Membership Rewards valuation of 2 cents per point.
I paid for my hotel booking with my Citi Premier® Card since it earns 3 ThankYou points per dollar spent on hotels, air travel, restaurants and gas stations. The card currently offers new cardmembers 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on the card within the first 3 months of account opening. Consider opening one of these cards if you have a lot of spend in these purchase categories.
Hotels in Cape Cod
Cape Cod is a large region with numerous towns to visit, but I plan to make Hyannis my home base. When there, I’ll rent a car and drive around Cape Cod during the day to see other towns like Provincetown and Eastham. Plus, I plan to spend a day hiking the Cape Cod National Seashore.
I’ll use Marriott Bonvoy points to cover five nights at the Courtyard Cape Cod Hyannis. The property is 35,000 to 40,000 points per night during my stay due to peak pricing. I’ll use points to cover three nights and a Marriott free night certificate to cover the fourth. I got this free night certificate with my Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, and it’s valid for a free night at any Marriott up to 35,000 points per night (awarded annually). The fifth night is covered by Marriott’s fifth-night free benefit on award stays.
This ended up being a pretty solid use of points and certificates too. The two-night stay would cost $1,788, so I got almost 1.2 cents per point in value from this redemption. This is significantly higher than TPG’s valuation of 0.8 cents per Marriott point — an excellent deal in my mind.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 125,000 bonus points + 1 free night (valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening (total of up to 175,000 bonus points).
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 150,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points and a bonus free night award (redemption level worth up to 85,000 Marriott points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Resort fees may apply. Offer expires 11/3/2021.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 Marriott bonus points & two bonus free night awards (each worth up to 50,000 points) after you use your new card to make $5,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership. Certain hotels have resort fees. Offer ends 11/3/21.
Saving on a Hertz rental car
I’ll rent a car during my week-long stay in Hyannis. I’ve talked extensively about saving money on rental cars, so I’ll spare you all the details here. But I want to highlight how I could save over $100 of the standard Hertz rental rate with my university’s alumni code.
Here’s a look at the standard rental rate for a five-day rental in late September. The cheapest Pay Later rate is $620.44 for a small sedan or economy car.
My university’s alumni code brings that price down to $496.35. This saves me roughly $124, which is pretty solid. Make sure to always check for available corporate and discount codes from your university, employer or alumni association when renting a car. It could be your ticket to big savings.
Additionally, I’ll pay for the rental with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and earn 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. Plus, this card includes a rental damage waiver that covers the car against theft and damage. This means I don’t need to purchase this coverage from Hertz or claim on my own car insurance if anything happens to the car.
If you’re interested in opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred, now’s the time to do it. New cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. This bonus is worth $1,200 per TPG’s latest valuation of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
My trip to Nantucket and Cape Cod wasn’t completely free, but points and miles helped me save well over $2,000. Plus, I maximized my expenses by charging the Nantucket hotel and Cape Cod rental car to a points-earning credit card and leveraging shopping portals and discount codes.
This is just one example of how points and miles can help you make otherwise out-of-budget trips attainable. Armed with the right suite of credit cards, you can save money just about anywhere in the world.
Feature photo by Lucky-photographer/Shutterstock
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