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Who doesn’t love a luxurious vacation? The thought of relaxing in a stunning resort, surrounded by beautiful scenery, while indulging in delicious food and drinks is a traveler’s dream.

But these luxury vacations can often come with a hefty price tag, making them out of reach for many of us. So what’s the answer? Book with points!

Thankfully, there is a way to enjoy an amazing vacation without going into debt or sacrificing comfort and luxury. With the right points strategy, you can stay at some of the world’s most incredible resorts for a fraction of the cost.

I’ve been researching and practicing award travel techniques since 2015. I’ve booked business class, economy class, activities, and many hotels with points and its saved me thousands of dollars on travel.

In this post, I’m giving you 7 incredible resorts that can be booked with points. I’ll also give you some insight into how you can earn points so that you can take advantage of this strategy.

Don’t let the price tag push you away from an amazing resort experience. You deserve it and you can do it without paying full price!

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7 Incredible Resorts You Can Book with Points

Casual female traveler standing on a desert trail surrounded by cacti and brush, with a mountainous landscape in the background, under a partly cloudy sky
Walking around the grounds at The Boulders Resort

The Boulders Resort and Spa – Scottsdale, Arizona

The Boulders Resort and Spa is a luxurious retreat located in the Sonoran Desert of Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s also part of the Curio Collection by Hilton which means you can book it with Hilton points!

You can expect to see it going for 70,000 – 100,000 Hilton points per night, depending on the season. We were able to book this with bonus points earned with a welcome bonus on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card.

We got lucky and found a redemption for their Casita room type at 60,0000 points per night and with the 5th night free (for using points) our 7-night stay was 360,000 points. We already had a good stash of Hilton points so we didn’t need to transfer any points for this redemption.

If you’re planning to go, check out my post on our trip to Scottsdale, Arizona.

Rawah Ranch – Jelm, Colorado

Rawah Ranch is a stunning all-inclusive ranch located in the Laramie River Valley in Jelm, Colorado. You can experience the great outdoors while enjoying the comfort of a five-star resort. This experience is all-inclusive of food, drinks, and a wide range of activities, including horseback riding, fly fishing, hiking, and more.

When we stayed at Rawah Ranch, it was bookable through the World of Hyatt loyalty program through the Small Luxury Hotels of the World program. Unfortunately, the partnership between Hyatt and Small Luxury Hotels is no longer available. However, Small Luxury Hotels has recently partnered with Hilton so there is still hope that this amazing resort can still be booked with points!

We transferred points from  Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to World of Hyatt for this redemption. The ranch is only open 3 months out of the year and I was able to book their final week in September for 35,000 points per night for two people. The cash rate is usually $1,700 per night all-inclusive with a 3-night minimum stay so this was a great redemption!

Want more info about Rawah Ranch? Check out my post about how I booked Rawah Ranch with Hyatt points!

Luxurious cabin bedroom featuring a king-sized bed with plush bedding, elegant furniture, and rustic wooden interiors.
Our Cowboys Cabin at Rawah Ranch

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin – Orlando, Florida

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort is one of the few resorts that you can book with points on Disney resort property and still get most of the benefits of staying at a Disney-owned resort.

The Swan and Dolphin Resort can be booked with Marriott Bonvoy points directly from the Marriott website. You can expect to see anywhere from 80,000 to over 200,000 Marriott points per night. If you can find availability that is, definitely look several months in advance.

Just like Hilton, Marriott also offers the 5th-night free benefit when booking with points. This means that if you book a five-night stay, you’ll only need to use points for four nights. It’s perfect for your Disney getaway!

The Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World with distinctive pyramid-shaped building surrounded by palm trees and reflective water under a blue sky.
The Swan and Dolphin Resort at Walt Disney World

Grand Wailea Resort – Wailea, Hawaii

The Grand Wailea Resort is a stunning resort in Hawaii! It’s a Waldorf Astoria resort which means Hilton points! You’ll find award nights starting at 80,000 points per night and up to over 300,000. So be flexible and check in advance for off-peak dates.

It’s a beautiful resort and did I mention it’s in Hawaii?!

Carmel Valley Ranch – Carmel-By-The-Sea, California

Carmel Valley Ranch is a beautiful property with views of the Santa Lucia Mountains, a world-class golf course, a spa, and tons of outdoor activities. What makes it even more amazing is that it is part of the Unbound Collection which means Hyatt points!

You’ll find redemptions starting at 40,000 points per night for a standard room reward which is a Vineyard Oak Studio with King and Outdoor Tub. Yes, please! Or starting 60,000 points per night for a suite that has a private deck with a fireplace, and a separate living room. Definitely worth it!

Beach view from a shaded patio at the Diplomat Beach Resort with white umbrellas, showing people enjoying a windy day with rough sea waves and a cloudy sky
Diplomat Beach Resort

The Diplomat Beach Resort – Hollywood, Florida

The Diplomat Beach Resort is another Curio Collection by Hilton which means you can pay with Hilton points. During our 1st wedding anniversary, we decided to stay here and used a standard room reward which was reasonably priced (sorry, I can’t recall the exact number of points).

Before we arrived, the concierge contacted us and I mentioned that it was our 1st wedding anniversary. They ended up upgrading us to an oceanview junior suite and decorated our room with flowers, champagne, and chocolate-covered strawberries.

We had a great time celebrating our anniversary, we didn’t leave the resort, we just had drinks by the beach, went to the spa, and ate dinner at the steakhouse restaurant. It was amazing, thanks to points!

Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf Resort – Rio Grande, Puerto Rico

The Wyndham Grand Rio Mar Golf Resort is a beachfront resort nestled in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. If you’re planning a trip to this beautiful island, be sure to check out my Puerto Rico itinerary post for more tips.

If you’re like me and not a loyal Wyndham guest, but you still want to experience a luxury stay at this resort, you can transfer points from Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou points to Wyndham Rewards.

The Citi Premier® Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, or Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card are all great options for this. With just 30,000 points per night, you can book a standard room and get to experience the beauty of Puerto Rico!

The historical stone walls of the Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico among under a clear blue sky with panoramic views of a coastal landscape in the distance.
Castillo San Felipe del Morro in Puerto Rico

Is there a reason I shouldn’t always book with points?

If using points will save you money and you have enough points to cover the stay, there’s really no reason not to use them. However, there may be times when you want to save some points for future redemptions but still want to make your current stay more affordable.

In these cases, you may want to consider using a combination of points and cash to make your stay more affordable, rather than using all of your points. On the other hand, if the cash rate for the hotel is particularly low, it may make more sense to save your points for something you really need them for.

Budget Travelers pay cash too!

Don’t let the internet fool you, budget travelers use cash for travel all the time. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your travel needs. But let me tell you, when you score that amazing redemption that makes your dream trip possible, it feels amazing!

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Benefits of Booking Resorts with Points

Booking resorts with points is an amazing way to plan your dream vacation. I still remember the first time I booked a free stay with points, and I thought to myself, “Why didn’t I start doing this sooner?” The benefits are incredible, and the best part is that it’s not difficult to get started.

  • Free Accommodation
  • Luxury and Comfort
  • More Value for Your Points
  • Flexibility
  • Rewarding Loyalty

Free Accommodation

The most obvious benefit of booking resorts with points is that you can stay for free (or almost free). Depending on the resort and the loyalty program, you may be able to book a room or suite entirely with points, or you may need to pay a resort fee.

Either way, using points can significantly reduce the cost of your vacation and free up more budget for other activities, meals, or whatever you want!

Luxury and Comfort

Booking resorts with points can give you access to aspirational properties that you may not be able to afford otherwise. With the points, you may be able to upgrade to a nicer room or suite and access exclusive amenities.

Of course, you can stretch out your points to stay at more affordable places, but let’s be real: there’s nothing like a stay at a fancy hotel, right? Personally, I’m a sucker for a luxurious hotel experience, and if I can book one for free or at a more affordable rate, you better believe I’m gonna do it.

More Value for Your Points

Using rewards points for resort bookings can provide a high return on investment compared to options like cash back or gift cards. For example, let’s say you have 90,000 credit card points that are worth $900 in cash back. This would be a redemption value of 1 cent per point. However, if you transfer points to a travel partner and book a resort stay worth $900, you may only need to use 75,000 points, giving you a redemption value of 1.2 cents per point (completely hypothetical example, but you get the point).

Transferring flexible points to travel partners can sometimes come with a transfer bonus, which can increase the redemption value of your points even more!

This means you can stretch your points further and potentially save a ton on your travel expenses. Just keep in mind that redemption values and point requirements can vary, so it’s best to do the math before making any redemptions.

BUT as far as redemptions go, there’s no such thing as a bad redemption. If you’re saving money on travel, then that’s a win every single time. So don’t stress too much over the math!

Flexibility

One of the best benefits of using points for resort bookings is the flexibility it offers. Unlike other redemption options like cash back or gift cards, which have a fixed value, points can often be redeemed for different amounts depending on the property and the time of year.

For example, during off-peak season, you may be able to book a resort stay for fewer points than during peak season. Plus some hotel loyalty programs may offer promotions or discounted rates on certain properties, which can further increase the value of your points.

You can often change or cancel your reservation without penalties as long as you comply with the hotel’s cancellation policy. This level of flexibility is helpful when you need the freedom to adjust plans. Flexibility gives you more confidence in making travel plans that work best for you!

Rewarding Loyalty

Booking resorts with points can help you earn even more benefits in the future.

For example, let’s say you’re a member of a hotel loyalty program. When you use points to book a resort stay, not only do you save money on the cost of the room, but you may also be earning nights towards elite status which can unlock even more benefits.

Most hotel loyalty programs offer perks to elites like free breakfast, late checkout, or room upgrades. These perks can make your resort stay even better and can add value to your overall experience.

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How to Earn Points

If you want to book incredible resorts with points, you need to earn those points first. Duh 🙂 Here’s some tips on how to get started:

  • Sign up for the hotel loyalty programs
  • Choose the right credit card
  • Take advantage of promotions and offers
  • Book directly with the hotel
  • Use shopping portals

Sign Up for Hotel Loyalty Programs

To start earning points for resort bookings, the first step is to enroll in hotel loyalty programs. Every major hotel chain offers a free loyalty program that rewards you with points for your stays. Although each program is different, joining is simple and usually only takes a few seconds.

*Some hotel loyalty programs require that you be a member of their program for some length of time (usually 30 days) before you can transfer points from partners. So the earlier you join the program the better to take advantage of potential promotions without any delays.

Choose the Right Credit Card

Another way and probably the quickest way to earn points for resort bookings is to use a travel rewards credit card and earn a welcome bonus. These cards will offer bonus points or miles for travel-related expenses, like hotel bookings, flights, rental cars, etc.

Look for a card that offers generous rewards for hotel stays or flexible points that you can use for travel. Just make sure you have good credit and pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.

I have a list of travel credit cards so that you can find the one that is right for you. If you’re interested in the cards that I’m currently using to save on travel, check out my favorite cards.

Take Advantage of Promotions and Offers

Hotel loyalty programs often offer promotions or special bonus offers that can help you earn more points faster. For example, you may earn bonus points for booking a certain number of nights or staying at a new property. Keep an eye on your email or the loyalty program website for these opportunities!

Book Directly with the Hotel

Booking directly with the hotel can score you more points! Usually, if you’re using a third-party site to book your stay, you won’t be able to earn any loyalty points. So booking directly is usually the best option.

Plus, if you do find a cheaper deal on some other website, most hotels will match it if you book directly with them (as long as it’s the exact same room). Also, booking directly may give you more flexibility regarding room selection, cancellation policies, or loyalty program benefits.

Use Shopping Portals

Don’t forget to stack your credit card points by using shopping portals. It’s seriously so easy and convenient. Many big hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton, or IHG will be available for cash back on these sites.

To make sure you’re getting the best deal, check on Cashback Monitor or install Chrome extensions for your favorite shopping portals. Rakuten is a favorite among budget travelers because you can convert cashback into AMEX Membership Rewards.

Shopping portals make it easy to earn even more rewards on purchases you’re already making.

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Let’s go!

Booking hotel stays with points can be a great way to save money, especially for stays that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. By joining loyalty programs, using shopping portals, and taking advantage of transfer bonuses, you can stretch your points even further.

And most importantly remember to have fun with this! If planning travel stresses you out, you’re doing it wrong.

Remember that even small savings can add up, so be proud of what you’re able to accomplish. Ultimately, travel is about having fun and creating unforgettable experiences, so keep that in mind and enjoy yourself!

If you think this booking with points thing may be for you, you’ll want to check out my post on FREE budget travel apps you should download today.

Want to Travel More for Less?

Become a Budget Traveler! Head over to my start here page and grab my free budget travel cheat sheet  – it’s packed with valuable tips to help you create your own winning budget travel strategy.

Editorial Disclosure – The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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