The first day of summer came and went yesterday, which is a welcomed site for those that went through a particularly harsh winter. Of course, that winter no longer matters as everyone packs away the jeans and sweaters for bathing suits and t-shirts.
No matter where you are located, you likely have a summer travel destination in mind that you just need to get to. Trust me, I understand – which is why in today’s post we walk through the top 5 summer travel destinations in the U.S. you can get to using frequent flyer miles and, once there, stay using hotel points.
This is part one of two, with next week’s post being dedicated to international summer destinations. But one thing to note: while I mention specific places a traveler may be leaving from, the mileage amounts will be the same if you are departing New York, San Francisco or anywhere in between (one of the benefits of how award charts are structured)…the only difference would be the amount of time you spend on the flight. So, without further adieu, here is the list.
1. Miami, Florida
Miami is one of those places that could be traveled to almost year-round – combine that with the fact that it is easy to get to for almost the entire country, offers a number of things to do ranging from open-water activities to sporting events and has a beach that some of the world’s richest celebrities call home and you can understand what makes this #1 on my list.
Options to get there are plentiful, so let’s assume that we are a New York resident looking for a beach getaway. One roundtrip ticket from New York to Miami can cost as little as 25,000 American Airlines miles if booked in advance – given the last-minute nature of this example though, it costs 50,000 American Airlines miles – either way though, the Citibank World MasterCard or Citibank Executive card will cover the required miles.
For hotels, there are a number of options – one that is particularly intriguing is the Z Ocean Hotel located on South Beach. This property requires 45,000 IHG points per night – apply for the Chase IHG Rewards credit card and any combination of the Chase Marriott, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus and Bold to allow you to stay for as long as you’re able to.
2. Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii is considered an ideal destination – both in summer and winter – due to it’s incredible, mild climate (85 degrees in day time, 75 at night – sign me up) and amazing landscape. While this destination is probably best for those located on the west coast, even central or east-coasters can find flights that don’t take too long to get there.
For today’s purposes, let’s consider the California resident who wants to find cheap travel to Hawaii using frequent flyer miles. For one roundtrip ticket to Maui from Los Angeles, 45,000 United Airlines miles and $5 in fees are needed – not bad considering you could cover this with just one credit card application: the Chase United Explorer card.
As for where to stay, I recommend the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua as a property that gets incredible reviews and is one of the best hotels in Hawaii you can book with points. For 60,000 Marriott points a night you can save the usual $400+ rate – the Chase Marriott, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus and Bold will all get you points able to be used at the hotel.
3. San Diego, California
San Diego, California is one of my personal favorites in terms of summer destinations. And while native Californians know all about this little paradise, in my experience the further you move east the fewer there are that have spent considerable time there. Much like Hawaii, San Diego boasts incredible climate and also offers a downtown with outdoor activities (baseball, hikes, surfing), nightlife and many family-friendly activities like the San Diego Zoo and Sea World.
This is a perfect destination for the Texas resident who wants to escape the extreme heat and settle down by the water. For one roundtrip ticket from Dallas to San Diego, as little as 25,000 American Airlines miles and $5 in fees are needed – probably the best way to get to San Diego using miles. The itinerary below is 37,500 American Airlines miles, which is easily covered by the Citibank World MasterCard or Citibank Executive card.
For hotels, the Hilton Garden Inn in Del Mar offers a great location and excellent value stay. Given the best hotels in the area are not part of points programs, the Hilton is one of the best hotels in San Diego you can book using points. The hotel will require 30,000 Hilton points per night for the usual $250+ rate and the Citibank Hilton HHonors card will get you enough for two nights right off the bat.
. New York, New York
“New York City during the summer?” some of you may be asking yourself (and of me). Yes, it is hot. And yes, it is relatively barren on weekends as those living in the city search for summer destinations of their own. While the heat can be tough during the day, the warm nights are absolutely magical.
For our Atlanta-based traveler, one roundtrip ticket from Atlanta to New York requires only 25,000 Delta Airlines miles. This is covered by just one card application, the American Express Delta Gold card.
Hotel options are plentiful, but there is one of the best hotels in the world you can book using points located near Central Park, the Ritz-Carlton New York. This is just a spectacular property and, as you can see below, can run for nearly $1,000 a night in the summer – this is in my opinion the best hotel in New York you can book using points. 70,000 Marriott points are required per night, which is a steep sum, but the Chase Marriott, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Ink Plus and Bold will all get you points able to be used at the hotel.
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach, much like San Diego, is a family-friendly beach that is particularly well traveled among east coast residents. With temperatures that can reach well into the 90’s and a location right in the middle of the eastern seaboard, it makes sense that this area would be so popular.
From a frequent flyer perspective, few destinations can be had for so cheap. United Airlines flies directly from Newark, one of New York’s three main airports, and the lowest available rate (like the one shown below) can be as little as 20,000 United Airlines miles and $5 for a roundtrip flight from New York to Myrtle Beach. This means that two or even three flights can be had with just one credit card application: again, the Chase United Explorer card.
Hotels are also quite cheap, and this may be one of the few times I recommend buying a hotel instead of using your hard-earned miles. If you do choose to use miles, I recommend the Sheraton Myrtle Beach. At only 7,000 SPG points per night, the American Express SPG card will enable you to book four nights (and then you’ll get a fifth night free!), meaning two credit card applications could fly three and sleep three, for only $15 in booking fees.
And there you have it – the best cheap summer travel destinations using frequent flyer miles. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the departing cities are meant to be examples and you will very likely be able to find a flight from your individual city at the same mileage amounts.
If you have any trouble unlocking your own summer travel destination, just comment below and I’ll do my best to help you get there. As always, safe travels and remember to check back in next week for the best international summer destinations using frequent flyer miles.
Disclaimer: Photos credit to respective airlines mentioned & Trip Advisor.