How to book a socially distant all-inclusive vacation with credit card rewards

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  • All-inclusive resorts are offering great deals that include free COVID tests and airport transfers.
  • You can book all-inclusive resorts with flexible rewards or hotel loyalty points from credit cards.
  • Brands with all-inclusive resorts include Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Choice, and Wyndham.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best rewards credit cards.

All-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean may be far from home, but they still offer an easy way to relax while remaining socially distant — that is, if you’re willing to fly. After all, I visited an all-inclusive resort in Mexico in December, and the property was barely at 30% capacity. You didn’t even have to get up early to save a chair by the pool, and the beach and restaurants were always empty.

All-inclusive resorts also seem like they’re doing more than most to bring people in. Not only are prices incredibly low, but you can get benefits like free on-site COVID-19 antigen testing, free airport transfers, and huge discounts in some cases.

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Even better, you can still book an array of all-inclusive properties for free with rewards, and many cost fewer points than ever right now. If you’re craving a getaway that has all your food and fun included, keep reading about the best ways to make a rewards-fueled all-inclusive vacation a reality.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

Book an all-inclusive resort with any flexible rewards program

Now is a really good time to use points from flexible programs that let you book travel through a portal. Examples include Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards in particular.

This is because you’ll fork over fewer points when prices are lower, and the discounts are offered on top of any rewards program discounts you get for using specific travel credit cards. Here’s a good example of an all-inclusive booking I made with Chase this year:

This booking would normally cost $1,377.72, which is an absolute steal since the TRS Yucatan is a five-star luxury hotel. However, I opted to pay with Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which made the booking free.

Since I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve® I was able to book this property and get 1.5 cents per point in value. That made the $1,377 booking cost only 91,848 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Note that other Chase credit cards also give you more value when you redeem for travel, including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. Both give you 1.25 cents per point toward airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more booked through Chase. 

Another benefit of booking with points from a flexible travel credit card is the fact that you can choose from nearly any resort, and not just ones affiliated with major hotel loyalty programs. This means you can book a small boutique all-inclusive resort if you prefer, or one like the TRS Yucatan, which is part of the Grand Palladium Resort complex in Riviera Maya. You can also book without having to worry about blackout dates or capacity controls. 

Read Insider’s current points and miles valuations to find out how much your hotel, airline, and credit card rewards are worth.

Book a resort with a flexible travel credit card

Some travel credit cards also make it easy to book any all-inclusive property you want, then redeem your rewards to cover all or part of the cost. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a popular option in this realm, mostly because you can use the miles you earn to “erase” travel purchases made with your card.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card earns 2 miles for each dollar you spend, and right now it has an excellent welcome offer: Earn 100,000 bonus miles once you spend $20,000 on purchases within the first 12 months from account opening (or 50,000 miles if you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months).

Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each when you redeem for statement credits to cover eligible travel purchases, so 100,000 miles is worth $1,000 toward an all-inclusive resort stay. To redeem your rewards, all you have to do is use your credit card for the booking. From there, you’ll erase all or part of the charge from your credit card bill within 90 days of the purchase date.

While Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each when you redeem at a fixed rate toward travel purchases, you can sometimes get even more value by transferring miles to Capital One’s airline and hotel partners.

Here’s a screenshot that shows me redeeming rewards from this card for a campground earlier in the year. The process is easy and, once again, you can choose other travel purchases or any all-inclusive resort you want. 

Open a hotel or transferable points credit card

Plenty of major hotel brands have all-inclusive properties where you can redeem points for stays. All of these brands have their own co-branded hotel credit cards that let you book all-inclusive resorts (and other properties) directly with rewards — and some properties cost fewer points than you might assume.

You don’t have to have a hotel credit card to book a stay with hotel points. Flexible rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express let you transfer points to hotel programs and book their properties that way. Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel transfer partners with all-inclusive resorts include World of Hyatt and IHG Rewards, whereas you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Choice Hotels and Hilton Honors.

If you prefer Wyndham hotels, its loyalty program partners with Capital One (and Choice will be added as a transfer partner later this year). 

Just remember to check the price of all-inclusive properties you’re considering through each brand’s travel portal before you transfer your points. In some cases, the travel portal price will be considerably lower than you would pay to book with hotel points directly.

For example, the Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive will set you back 50,000 IHG points per night. However, you can frequently find this hotel in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for less than 15,000 Chase points per night.

Hotel loyalty program

Hotel credit cards that earn points directly

Flexible points that transfer to the hotel program

Hilton Honors

Hilton Honors American Express Card

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card

American Express Membership Rewards

 

IHG Rewards

IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card

IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card

Chase Ultimate Rewards

World of Hyatt

The World Of Hyatt Credit Card

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Card

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Plus Card

Wyndham Rewards® Earner Business Card

Capital One Venture/Spark Miles

Choice Privileges

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card

American Express Membership Rewards

Capital One Venture/Spark Miles (starting later in 2021)

Examples of all-inclusive resorts you can book with hotel points include: 

  • Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara all-inclusive properties in Mexico and Jamaica, which range from 20,000 points to 25,000 points per night with double occupancy for a standard room 
  • Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa, which can cost 70,000 points per night for two adults and two kids
  • Holiday Inn Resort Montego Bay All-Inclusive, which can cost 50,000 points per night for double occupancy (and kids under 12 stay free)
  • The Sunscape Sabor Cozumel, Ascend Hotel Collection (part of Choice Hotels), which can cost as little as 25,000 points per night with double occupancy

Keep in mind that most hotel credit cards offer a healthy sign-up bonus that can be enough for a few free nights, and that you can earn even more hotel points by using your card for regular spending and bills. Some hotel rewards cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card even offer a free weekend night for every account anniversary which you can use at all-inclusive properties.

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.

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Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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