According to a recent survey from Allianz Travel Insurance, the average American may be spending more money on vacation than ever before - approximately $1,798 on average as of 2016.
That’s a lot of dough to spend on travel, yet 50 percent of respondents to the Allianz study said they were confident they could pull it off.
4 Ways to Book All-Inclusive Vacations with Rewards
Fortunately, $1,798 can be stretched pretty far these days – whether you’re craving a beach vacation, a cross-country trek to see family, or an RV trip to see our county’s most beautiful sites. But, if you want to stretch the limits even further, you absolutely can.
With the right credit card rewards strategy, you can travel further, stay longer, and possibly get every component of your trip included for a single price. You can even book all-inclusive resorts with points, scoring your food, entertainment, and drinks (including alcohol) in your nightly rate.
If you’re angling for an all-inclusive vacation paid with rewards, here are four strategies to consider today:
Option #1: Get a rewards card that offers flexible travel credit.
If you’re dreaming of an all-inclusive getaway but want unlimited flexibility in terms of where you stay, a card that offers flexible travel credit could be your best bet. Cards that fall into this category offer generic rewards that can be redeemed to cover any travel expense including, but not limited to, all-inclusive properties worldwide.
With the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard®, for example, you can rack up points and redeem them however you want. This particular card offers 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 90 days, plus unlimited 2x miles on every purchase. Since each point is worth one cent, the signup bonus alone is worth $700 in all-inclusive luxury.
Since two spouses can both get this card and earn the signup bonus, you could even have a minimum of $1,120 to spend on a resort (two signup bonuses plus 2x points for $5,000 minimum spending requirement each). This amount could easily be enough to book 5 or 6 nights in a budget all-inclusive property in Mexico or the Caribbean.
Option #2: Look into Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
If you want to rack up rewards that work in a specific program, Chase Ultimate Rewards® is definitely worth looking into. After you sign up for a card that earns points in this program, you’ll be able to book travel – including all-inclusive resorts – through the Chase travel portal. Depending on the card you sign up for, you could also get a sizable discount.
Let’s say you get the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for example. This card offers an amazing 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. On top of that, enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more. Get more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
Another huge benefit of this card (and other Chase Ultimate Rewards® cards) is the fact you can transfer points to popular hotel and airline partners at a 1:1 ratio. Since some Chase transfer partners like Hyatt and IHG Rewards offer all-inclusive resorts, this is yet another way to get maximum bang for your buck.
Option #3: Pick up a hotel credit card.
While you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards® and other flexible points to certain hotel partners, it’s also possible to get a co-branded hotel credit card. These cards work directly with hotel brands to help you earn loyalty points good for free stays, room upgrades and more.
If you were particularly interested in InterContinental Hotel Group properties (Holiday Inns, InterContinental Hotels, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, etc.), for example, you could pick up the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card to earn a hefty signup bonus good for a few free nights. IHG Rewards also offers all-inclusive hotels in both Jamaica and Mexico, and you can book these properties with points alone.
The same can be true for many other hotel brands including Hyatt, Hilton, and Wyndham Rewards. If you find yourself interested in an all-inclusive hotel affiliated with a major brand, make sure to check out their co-branded hotel credit card options to see what’s available. Many times, you can score a signup bonus good for a few free nights plus ongoing rewards for regular spending.
Option #4: Build up a stash of cash-back.
Another tried and true way to build up rewards for an all-inclusive stay is with regular, traditional cash-back. With an array of cash-back credit cards that span from the 1.5 percent cash back Chase Freedom Unlimited® to the 2x percent back Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business, you can start earning points for an all-inclusive stay or any other type of travel.
With traditional statement credits to spend, you can shop around for the best all-inclusive resort deal you can find. You won’t have to worry about blackout dates or award availability, and you’ll be free to snatch up an all-inclusive discount through a site like Groupon Getaways or even CheapCaribbean.com.
When it comes to cash-back credit cards, make sure to seek out a card that offers the best earning structure with your spending habits in mind. By spending on your card regularly and paying off your balance every month, you’ll earn valuable rewards good for the affordable beach trip you’ve always wanted.
The Bottom Line
While Americans tend to spend plenty on their annual vacation, certain rewards credit cards can help you stretch your travel budget. And yes, you can absolutely rack up rewards that can help you book an all-inclusive stay for free.
All it takes is some planning, some time, and the creative use of credit to make your dream trip happen in no time. With that being said, your best bet is to start planning now.
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