[Update: Some offers mentioned below have expired. For current terms and conditions, please see card agreements.]
As the nation thaws out from a long winter, rewards credit card users begin contemplating using their points and miles to make summer travel plans. And while travelers with the most foresight may have already booked their summer travel last year, others are just now getting around to it.
Here are four of the top summer travel destinations, and why they make sense for rewards travel.
While skiers and snowboarders are getting their last runs on the mountains this season, rewards travelers look forward to visiting ski resorts in the summer. Ski areas allow city dwellers to escape the heat of the summer while enjoying activities such as hiking, golf, mountain biking, horseback riding, and much more. And best of all, rewards flights and hotel stays can be much easier to find.
As the federal sequester budget cuts start to delay airline travel, now is the time to consider a scenic train ride. Riding the rails is fun and relaxing for adults, and parents will quickly realize that kids simply love trains.
Also, several popular credit card programs allow members to transfer their points to Amtrak Guest Rewards. For example, holders of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus cards can transfer their Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak. Points in the Starwood Preferred Guest program can be transferred to Amtrak points, as well. And when Amtrak points are redeemed for awards, bedroom accommodations that normally cost more than $1,000 require as few as 25,000 points. This returns a fantastic four cents in value per point. Note that while Amtrak has some blackout dates, it has no capacity controls on rewards.
When people consider a Hawaiian vacation, they might picture a winter getaway to enjoy the sun. But what many have discovered is that winter is their coldest and rainiest season with high temperatures that may only reach the 70s; hardly ideal beach weather. On the other hand, their summers are mild and dry.
Nevertheless, it is always difficult to find rewards flights to Hawaii at the lowest mileage levels. Instead, travelers might focus on paying for discounted airfare and then using hotel points to enjoy luxurious accommodations at one of their spectacular beaches.
The Southern Hemisphere
There are several reasons why going south of the Equator is a great idea for a longer trip this summer. First, oppressively hot climates become more mild in places like Australia, Southern Africa and South America. In addition, the exchange rates can be very favorable for Americans visiting developing countries in South America and Africa. And since Americans seem to earn most of the world’s credit card rewards, the further we go from home, the easier it is to book award flights and hotels for the fewest points and miles.
By looking away from some of the most common summer vacation spots, cardholders will find that it is not too late to plan a great summer trip using their credit card rewards.