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Deal alert: No passport needed for warm US beaches from $42 round trip nonstop

Oct. 13, 2020
6 min read
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This year, many countries that normally maintain open borders have restricted international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately, 2020 has proven to be a great time to fall back in love with domestic destinations, particularly ones that can be reached by car.

But if you aren't the driving type, flights to beach cities may be just the ticket for you. With health safety protocols at an all-time high in commercial aviation, a quick weekend getaway for some Vitamin D might be in order before winter sets in. All of the destinations we searched don't require passports from U.S. travelers, even if some destinations such as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Hawaii feel like exotic escapes.

The lowest fares we've found originate from Newark (EWR) and fly nonstop into Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for just $43 round trip on Spirit, or $51 on United in basic economy — cheaper than a good steak after tax and tip.

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Some of these fares book into basic economy, which means different things to different airlines, but often means you may not have free use of the overhead bins for a carry-on bag. You probably also won't be able to select your seat, get an upgrade or earn PQM/PQS/PQDs. Also, keep in mind that flights booked in basic economy may incur change fees despite many airlines eliminating most change fees on domestic and Caribbean/Mexico flights this summer. However, it’s possible to defeat some of basic economy’s negative aspects by having elite status or a cobranded credit card.

To find a deal, head to Google Flights and enter your origin and destination cities. Scroll through the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you. Finally, click through to book directly with the airline or an OTA like Orbitz or Expedia.

Not sure how to utilize Google Flights to its fullest? Check out our guide to booking flights like a pro.

Airline: American, United, Spirit, Volaris, VivaAerobus and more
Routes: EWR/IAH/JFK/DFW/ATL/ORD and more to FLL/MIA/SJU/SAN/STT/STX
Cost: from $42 round trip in basic economy
Dates: October 2020 — June 2021
Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline; starting Jan. 1, 2021 earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Citi Prestige® Card (5x on airfare), Citi Premier® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on airfare), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel)

The information for the Citi Prestige Card 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 are some examples of specific flights that are available:

Newark (EWR) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for $42 round trip nonstop on Spirit via Google, or $51 on United in basic economy:

Newark (EWR) to San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU) for $64 round trip nonstop on Spirit, or $67 on United in basic economy:

Chicago (ORD) to San Diego (SAN) for $96 nonstop round trip on American Airlines and United:

Dallas (DFW) to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands (STT) for $164 round trip on Spirit:

Atlanta (ATL) to Key West (EYW) for $177 nonstop round trip on Delta:

San Francisco (SFO) to Maui (OGG) for $257 round trip nonstop in January on Hawaiian Airlines:

Maximize your purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline)(starting Jan. 21, 2021 earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), Citi Prestige Card (5x on airfare), Citi Premier® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on airfare), American Express® Gold Card (3x on airfare when booked directly with the airline) or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel). Check out this guide for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

Featured image by Getty Images

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
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.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases