Amazing Destinations You Can Go to With Rewards Points and Miles

By Holly Johnson on 10 July 2017 0 comments

While credit card rewards may not be life-changing for everyone, for some, they make the impossible possible. With airline miles, hotel points, cash back, or flexible rewards, many people find they can afford to travel farther, and potentially stay longer. And, who knows? Perhaps you can visit a destination you've always dreamed of.

If you're aching to see parts of the world you assume are beyond your reach, researching airline and hotel rewards programs can help you see what's possible. Airline credit cards can help you get free flights, hotel credit cards can help you score free accommodations, and flexible travel cards allow you to use points for all kinds of travel expenses.

Need help jump-starting your wanderlust? Here are five bucket list spots you can absolutely see with rewards.

1. Bora Bora

Bora Bora is undoubtedly the most beautiful island in French Polynesia. A short flight from Tahiti, this island paradise is comprised of tiny islands (motus) that surround a central mountain and an inspiring, azure blue lagoon teeming with sea life. While Bora Bora is perfect for a honeymoon or romantic retreat, it's well known as a fun (albeit expensive) family destination as well.

How to get there

There are numerous ways to get at least part of the way to Bora Bora with airline miles. From Los Angeles International (LAX) to Papeete (PPT), Tahiti, for example, you can fly round trip with Alaska Airlines for 80,000 miles plus taxes and fees. You can also fly round trip using Air France's Flying Blue program for 60,000 miles plus taxes, or 80,000 American AAdvantage miles plus taxes round trip.

No matter how you get to Tahiti, however, you'll have to pay around $400 per person, round trip, for the short flight from Papeete to Bora Bora. The airline that operates this leg (Air Tahiti) doesn't offer a mileage program.

Where to stay

Numerous hotel programs promise to let you stay in Bora Bora for free, including the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort, which you can book with free nights from the IHG Rewards Club. If you build a stash of Hilton Honors points, on the other hand, you can score free stays at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui.

2. Maldives

The Maldives is another tropical destination well known for its crystal-clear waters and overwater bungalows. Smack dab in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are expensive to visit and quite a trek for most of us to reach. However, there's a reason why so many people travel to the ends of the earth for a stay in the Maldives. According to many who have been there, the water, scenery, and atmosphere make it one of the most beautiful and unique destinations in the world.

How to get there

The best airline strategy for the Maldives depends a lot on where you live. Many would say that Air France is the way to go due to its plentiful award availability and cheap economy redemptions. Currently, you can book round-trip flights from New York City to Male, the capital, for 80,000 Flying Blue miles plus around $400 in taxes and fees.

Cathay Pacific is another option if you have Alaska Airlines miles. For just 60,000 Alaska miles plus taxes you can fly from certain U.S. cities to Male on Cathay. (See also: 5 Amazing Destinations You Thought Were Unaffordable)

Where to stay

The Hyatt Credit Card offers two free nights you can use to stay in any Hyatt property worldwide, and that includes the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa. That means if you're going to be traveling with a spouse or partner, you can both get the card and book two subsequent reservations, for a total of four free nights.

3. Aruba

Aruba is one of the Lesser Antilles islands in the southern Caribbean Sea. Known for its desert landscape and amazing blue waters, Aruba is bursting with hotels, casinos, night life, and water activities galore. While Aruba is popular for land-based vacations, cruise ships bring thousands of passengers to the island weekly. Fortunately, Aruba's location in the Caribbean makes it fairly easy to travel there on points.

How to get there

While you can get to Aruba a few different ways, the easiest strategy is utilizing Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Depending on where you live in the United States, you can usually get to Aruba for less than 25,000 miles plus taxes round trip. Another popular option is Flying Blue, especially if your credit card rewards program transfers to the frequent flyer program. On Flying Blue, you can get to Aruba for 25,000 miles plus taxes and fees round trip.

Where to stay

Most of the major hotel chains let you earn points for free stays in Aruba. Marriott Rewards can help you score free nights at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Marriott Aruba Surf Club, and more. You can also stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba with IHG Rewards points, or at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort, Spa & Casino with World of Hyatt points.

4. Italy

Italy is a bucket list destination for nearly everyone, well known for its inspiring culture, historical sites, delicious cuisine, and dynamic landscapes, which span from the mountainous north to idyllic beachfronts on the country's western shore. While most people go to Italy to see major sites like Rome's Colosseum and Forum, the Vatican, or the world-famous art spread across Florence, others dream of Tuscan wineries, lazy beach days in Cinque Terre or Sorrento, or a trip to the famous island of Capri.

How to get there

If you're looking for a cheap and easy way to get to Italy, check out American Airlines' AAdvantage program. If you fly coach and travel off-peak (October 15–May 15), you can score a round-trip flight for just 45,000 miles plus airline taxes and fees.

Where to stay

The best part about being in Italy isn't its huge, prestigious hotels; it's the side streets and the intimate culture of the locals. To see the real Italy, we recommend booking an Airbnb or condo, which you can do with a credit card that offers rewards for all kinds of travel purchases.

5. Greece

Greece is home to some of the most wondrous sites on the planet — the renowned Parthenon, Olympia where the world's first Olympic Games were held, the historic Delphi, and the mountaintop monasteries of Meteora. That doesn't even include the famous Greek Islands, such as Crete and Santorini. Fortunately, Greece is also cheap to visit, with plentiful hotels and resorts for less than $100 or even $50 per night.

How to get there

Flying to Greece can be cheap and easy with airline miles. You can fly round-trip economy using United MileagePlus for 60,000 miles plus taxes and fees. If you have American AAdvantage miles, you can score an off-peak fare for 45,000 miles plus taxes and fees.

Where to stay

Greece is another country where it's smart and economical to book a small, independent hotel versus a big chain property. Sign up for a credit card that offers a travel portal through which you can use rewards points to book cheap hotels (with free breakfast). Or, opt for a flexible card that offers travel credit so you can book an Airbnb or a small boutique hotel near the major sites.

Credit cards that will get you there

Start earning points with your everyday purchases today! These credit cards allow you to transfer your points to the airline programs mentioned above.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is offering 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your card within the first three months. Those points are worth $625 if you use them to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, but they can be worth considerably more when you transfer them to a partner airline (includes Air France and United) or hotel (Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and IHG). This card does charge a $95 annual fee, but the fee is waived the first 12 months.

Gold Delta Skymiles Credit Card from American Express

Since Delta is part of the SkyTeam Alliance, you can use points to book flights on Air France and Alaska Airlines.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Use points to book flights on oneworld alliance partners, like Cathay Pacific.

The Platinum Card® from American Express 

The current offer on the The Platinum Card® from American Express makes it possible to earn 60,000 points after you use your card for $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. While you could potentially afford a flight to Europe by booking through the AmexTravel.com portal (where 60,000 points is worth $600 in flights), you'll get better value with an Amex transfer partner (includes Air France, Delta, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Hilton).

While the card does have a $550 annual fee, it includes $200 airline credit, lounge access to over 1,000 lounges around the world, Uber credits, and a global entry credit which add up to way more value than that, but only if you actually use it.

BankAmericard Travel Rewards

Use this card to apply points as statement credit to any travel purchases that you have to make that's not covered with points. (See also: How to Get a Free Vacation in 9 Months Through Credit Cards)

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