This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

Advertiser Disclosure: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. This relationship may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, Bilt Mastercard®, the World of Hyatt Credit Card, the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card, and the Wyndham Rewards Cards has been collected independently by Lonely Planet. These cards are not available through Lonely Planet. 

If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram images of overwater bungalows or hotel rooms with stunning ocean views, you may have thought, “I could never afford that!” Many of the world’s best hotels charge $1,000 or more per night, but these properties are more attainable for the average person than you might expect. By leveraging points, you can stay at these properties for actual pennies on the dollar.

It won’t be entirely free since some of these hotels impose resort fees and earning points comes at a cost (i.e., annual fees). But by leveraging the right rewards programs, you can stay at these properties for the same price as a budget hotel. Here are ten amazing hotels around the world you can book with points.

How to get started with travel points and airline miles

The view from one of the restaurants at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa
The view from one of the restaurants at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa © Katie Genter / The Points Guy

Hilton Maldives Amingiri Resort & Spa, Maldives

You can book many incredible Maldives hotels with points, but we’ve chosen the Hilton Amingiri because it has a reasonable redemption rate and consistent saver award availability. For just 110,000 Hilton points per night, you can book a beach villa with a private pool, typically costing well over $1,000 per night. This 1,485 sq ft room sleeps up to three people and offers reasonable boat transfer fees: $300 per adult and $150 for kids aged 6-11. This is a bargain, considering the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi charges over $700 per person for their transfer service.

You can cover up to two free nights at the Hilton Maldives Amingiri with one or more of the following Hilton credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card*: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Business Card*: Welcome Offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors Business Card within the first six months of Card Membership.
  • Hilton Honors American Express Card*: Earn 70,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Ends 7/31/2024.

10 incredible branded hotels that have boutique hotel vibes

Calala Island
The very remote, four-room resort on Calala Island © Carissa Rawson / The Points Guy

Calala Island, Nicaragua

Calala Island in Nicaragua is one of the most unique Hyatt hotels you can book with points. This private island in the Caribbean Sea provides an all-inclusive experience. Award nights can be hard to find since the hotel has just four rooms. However, it's an exceptional value at 35,000-45,000 points per night, especially since it includes transportation. 

Hyatt points are fairly easy to accrue, thanks to partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Bilt Rewards. Points from these programs transfer 1:1, making it easy to top off your account quickly if you have a card like the Bilt Mastercard® or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Hyatt currently has two co-branded credit cards, which can get you a combined three nights at Calala Island: 

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card: 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 on qualified purchases at Hyatt hotels & up to 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member.

10 amazing US hotels you can book with points

Room service breakfast at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Dubai
Room service breakfast with a view at Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Dubai © Ethan Steinberg / The Points Guy

Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Dubai, UAE

The Al Maha Resort is located in a desert outside of Dubai, providing a picturesque spot for adventure travelers and luxury connoisseurs to enjoy a bucket list all-inclusive stay. Marriott no longer publishes an award chart, but free nights generally start at 85,000 points. A standard award night gets you into a luxury suite with a private pool, meals, plus two activities. It’s an excellent use of Marriott points since paid nights are often $1,000 or more. You can reduce your overall cost by booking five consecutive nights. Doing so gets you the fifth night free.

Marriott has four credit cards offering generous sign-up bonuses you can combine for a multi-night stay at Al Maha:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card*: Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express Card*: Earn 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card*: Earn 3 Free Night Awards (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first three months from account opening.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card*: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months from account opening. Plus, Earn up to 14X total points for every $1 spent at thousands of hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy.

Best credit cards for adventure travel

Hotel Indigo Galápagos, San Cristobal, Galápagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands are one of the most biodiverse places in the world and helped demonstrate Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. There aren’t many luxury hotels in the Galápagos, which makes the Hotel Indigo such a unique option. IHG One no longer publishes an award chart, but you can typically book the Hotel Indigo Galápagos for 95,000 points per night. Paid rates often exceed $500 per night, making this a solid redemption. You can accrue IHG points through one of their co-branded credit cards or transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards or Bilt Rewards. 

If you still don’t have enough for a free night, IHG One Rewards and IHG One Rewards Premier Business Credit Card cardholders get the fourth night free on consecutive award night bookings. Plus, you can opt for a Cash + Points award, saving you significant money.

Best travel credit cards for foodies

Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Harbour from the Park Hyatt Sydney © Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney, Australia

The Park Hyatt Sydney is one of the most unique hotels in the world, owing to its location on the Sydney Harbour facing the famous Opera House. As a Category 8 Hyatt hotel, a free night at the Park Hyatt Sydney can be booked for 35,000-45,000 points. While a base room won’t include the coveted Opera House views, you’ll still enjoy a beautifully appointed room with luxury amenities and a prime location on Sydney Harbour. You can take in the iconic views from various places around the property, including the hotel’s Dining Room.

You can save up enough points for a free night at the Park Hyatt Sydney with the Hyatt credit card or by signing up for a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card:

  • World of Hyatt Credit Card: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.
  • World of Hyatt Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 9 points total per $1 spent at Hyatt - 4 Bonus Points per $1 on qualified purchases at Hyatt hotels & up to 5 Base Points per $1 from Hyatt as a World of Hyatt member.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Should you book travel with cash or points?

Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts
Mango House Seychelles © Mango House Seychelles, LXR Hotels & Resorts

Mango House Seychelles, Mahe, Seychelles

Hilton’s Mango House Seychelles is an exclusive resort featuring just 41 rooms and villas perched along a white sand beach. While Hilton doesn’t publish an award chart, you can typically book a deluxe room for 110,000 points per night. These rooms feature 463 sq ft of space and a balcony with ocean views. Considering these rooms cost over $1,000 per night in high season, it’s well worth the splurge. 

As we’ve covered above, you can accrue enough points for one or more nights at the Mango House Seychelles by applying for a Hilton credit card. Remember that Hilton cards are issued by American Express, which has a once-per-lifetime rule on welcome bonuses. If you’ve had one of these cards in the past, you won’t be eligible for the same card’s bonus in most cases.

How to travel to the Seychelles with points and miles

The view from the terrace of The Gritti Palace Venice
The view from the terrace of The Gritti Palace Venice © Courtesy of The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice / Marriott

The Gritti Palace Venice, Italy

If you’re looking for historic luxury, you’ll find it at the Gritti Palace Venice. This iconic 15th-century palazzo is located on Venice’s famous Grand Canal and is part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection. While it’s common to see paid rates over $1,500 per night in the summer, you can also snag award nights from just 92,000 Marriott points. Considering how easy it is to earn Marriott points through the various credit cards (see above) and partnerships, this can be a great redemption – especially with the fifth night free factored in.

Best travel credit cards for hotels

voco Ma Belle Danang, an IHG Hotel 
voco Ma Belle Danang, an IHG Hotel © Courtesy of voco Ma Belle Danang, an IHG Hotel

voco Ma Belle Danang, Vietnam

If you want to spend your IHG points on Vietnam’s Son Tra Peninsula, look no further than the voco Ma Belle Danang resort. Not only does this resort provide luxury accommodations, but free nights are incredibly reasonable, starting at 13,500 points. This resort is an excellent choice to stretch the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card’s welcome bonus to the max. With the welcome 140,000 IHG bonus points (after spending $3,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of account opening), you can cover up to 10 free nights. Booked consecutively, you’ll even get two of those nights free!

How to make a travel budget using points and miles

overheard view of overwater bungalows over turquoise water
Overwater bungalows at the St. Regis in Bora Bora © The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort

St. Regis Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is a notoriously pricey destination, which is why the St. Regis is the perfect place to put your Marriott points to good use. You can book a reef-side garden villa with ocean views from just 96,000 points per night. You can further reduce this cost by taking advantage of Marriott’s fifth-night-free perk and leveraging the credit cards we outlined above.

The best credit cards for airport lounge access

Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay, Greece

The Wyndham Grand Crete Mirabello Bay in Crete is located on Crete’s scenic Mirabello Bay. Rates at this stunning resort can top $500 per night during the off-season, making 30,000 Wyndham points a great alternative. At that rate, you’ll receive a stunning Sea View room with a marble bathroom and balcony overlooking the bay. The hotel has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, a full-service spa and on-site laundry facilities – perfect for families traveling with kids or nomads traveling for extended periods. This resort provides complimentary breakfast and parking to all guests, which provides savings and convenience for families or group travelers. Crete can be an expensive destination, but redeeming Wyndham points is a great way to save on both lodging and meals.

You can earn Wydnahm points easily through co-branded credit cards and transfers from Capital One and the Citi ThankYou program.

  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Card: Earn 45,000 bonus points after spending $1000 in the first 90 days. 
  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Plus Card: Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $1000 on purchases in the first 90 days. 
  • Wyndham Rewards® Earner℠ Business Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3000 in the first 90 days and 25,000 more after spending $10,000 within the first 12 months. 

The best credit cards for Global Entry

*Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

This article was first published Aug 18, 2023 and updated Jan 29, 2024.

Explore related stories

Arlecchino-train.jpeg

Activities

Copy My Trip: A grand rail tour of Italy from Rome to Venice

Apr 19, 2024 • 7 min read