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How points and miles saved me over $2,000 on a trip to Nantucket and Cape Cod

July 15, 2021
12 min read
Cape Cod Massachusetts
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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

(Photo by Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

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 1.41 cents per point on a ticket that costs 4,500 SkyMiles.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of jetblue.com)

Related: We stayed at an Airstream campground in Cape Cod and we’re never going home

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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.

(Screenshot courtesy of delta.com)

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.

(Photo by Wangkun Jia / Shutterstock.com)

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:

Related: CEO chat: New England’s Cape Air finds strength in Caribbean, Montana during COVID crisis

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of hotels.com)

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.

Related: An ideal hotel card for a brand-agnostic traveler: A review of the Hotels.com credit card

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of marriott.com)

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.

You can earn Marriott Bonvoy points with the following credit cards:

Related: It’s all about extra benefits: A review of the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex Credit Card

Saving on a Hertz rental car

My university's Hertz discount code helped me save over $100 on a rental car in Cape Cod. (Photo by antonnot / Shutterstock.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of hertz.com)

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.

(Screenshot courtesy of hertz.com)

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.

Related: Hertz to give elite status benefits to all new loyalty members

Bottom line

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

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

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  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
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  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
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Rewards Rate

5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.