Your Points and Miles Guide to Spring Break 2018

Feb 28, 2018

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With the holiday season long gone and summer still far ahead, the time has come for one of the most anticipated vacation periods of the year: Spring Break. Thanks to the scattering of spring break recess throughout the nation, there are tons of opportunities to cash in those points and miles you’ve been saving up to save big during this vacation period — even at the last minute.

Today we’ll take a look at some flight and hotel options available as of this writing that will make for an unforgettable spring break getaway, even for grown-ups. To best align with school breaks, all sample trips in this post are 5-7 nights long and have either weekend or Monday departures and weekend or Friday returns.

While you may be able to leverage Marriott, Starwood or Hilton’s fifth night free benefit on your award booking, for simplicity’s sake, we’ve decided not to factor in that discount when discussing nightly rates (though they may appear in the images below), since not everyone will be traveling for the same number of nights.

In This Post

Miami, Florida

Miami is the place to be for a quintessential action-packed spring break experience. Although you’d typically never run out of things to do there anyway, events like Miami Music Week and the Miami Beach Gay Pride festival make spring an especially exciting time to visit the city. There’s an influx of fabulous points hotels right in the heart of South Beach, and finding award flights to get there isn’t too challenging either.

Photo by Pola Damonte / Getty Images.


As one of America’s busiest airports, finding flights to get you to and from Miami International Airport (MIA) is a breeze. Although American is the only airline to have a hub in MIA, all three major US legacy carriers offer plenty of award options from across the country. If you want to redeem JetBlue or Southwest points, you’ll need to fly into Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), which is about an hour away from Miami.

Depart From Dates Miles/Points Round-Trip in Economy
American Chicago, New York (EWR, JFK, LGA) Mar 3-9, Mar 12-17, Mar 17-22 25,000
Dallas/Ft. Worth Mar 3-9, Mar 17-22, Mar 24-30, Mar 30-Apr 6 25,000
Los Angeles (LAX, LGB, SNA), San Francisco (SFO) Mar 3-8 25,000
Delta Atlanta Mar 3-10 21,000
Atlanta Mar 17-24, Mar 24-31 12,000
Chicago Mar 3-9, Mar 19-24 23,500
New York (JFK, LGA) Mar 3-10, Mar 17-23 16,000
New York (LGA) Mar 24-31 23,500
United New York (EWR) Mar 3-10, Mar 10-17, Mar 24-31 *25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Chicago, Houston Mar 3-10 *25,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)

*Includes flights exclusively available to MileagePlus Premier members and qualified United MileagePlus credit cardholders.


All of the major hotel chains have rooms available to book using points throughout March and April.

The Miami Beach EDITION
The Miami Beach EDITION. Photo courtesy of the hotel.

You can get amazing value out of your Starwood Starpoints by staying at the chic Royal Palm South Beach Miami. The hotel is located right on the beach and has two swimming pools. At 12,000 points per night in the first week of March, you’ll be getting roughly 3.8 cents per point in value, which is above the 2.7 cents that TPG values SPG points at in his latest monthly valuation.

The 10,000 point price shown here includes a fifth night free discount for a 6-night stay.

If you want something even swankier, you can stay at Marriott’s Miami Beach EDITION for 70,000 points per night.

For Hilton fans, there is the Hilton Bentley, and at 80,000 points per night for a stay in mid-March, your points will be yielding roughly the same amount that TPG values them at.

If you’re in town for Ultra Music Festival or simply prefer being downtown, you could spend 55,000 IHG points per night to stay at the Kimpton EPIC Hotel. Note that the pool is currently closed for renovations Mondays through Fridays, but guests have access to the Kimpton Surfcomber South Beach’s pool and will be reimbursed for transportation between the hotels.

While finding availability for this next hotel is a bit tougher than the previous ones, Hyatt has some award nights at the recently transformed Confidante Miami Beach for 15,000 points per night toward the end of March, and Chase Ultimate Rewards can be instantly transferred to Hyatt at a 1 to 1 ratio.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

As the TPG team experienced first-hand earlier this year, Puerto Rico is not only open for tourism, but there are many reasons to visit right now. Most hotels reopened long ago, including tons of points options, and since PR is a US territory, Americans don’t even need a passport to enter.

Photo by dennisvdw / Getty Images.


There are many nonstop flights to take you to and from San Juan’s Luis Muñoz Marín Airport (SJU) from major cities across the US. American offers the most options to get you there and at the lowest fixed rate. Alternately, you could potentially spend a lot less points by redeeming with JetBlue, though you’re much more restricted with where you can depart from.

Depart From Dates Miles/Points Round-Trip in Economy
American Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles (LAX) Mar 3-10, Apr 8-13 30,000
Miami All dates in March and April 30,000
New York (EWR, ISP, JFK, LGA) Mar 3-10, Mar 17-24, Apr 8-13 30,000
San Francisco (SFO) Mar 3-9 30,000
Washington Reagan Mar 17-23, Apr 8-14 30,000
Delta New York (EWR, JFK, LGA) All dates in March and April 45,000-50,000
Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Washington Reagan Mar 3-9, Mar 18-24, Mar 25-30, Apr 8-14 45,000-50,000
JetBlue Fort Lauderdale Mar 3-10, Mar 11-16 9,000
New York (EWR, JFK) Mar 5-10, Mar 17-22, Mar 24-30, Apr 8-14 13,400
Southwest Baltimore Mar 10-16, Mar 17-24, Mar 25-30, Apr 7-14 17,280
Boston Mar 17-24, Apr 7-13 15,264-19,224
New York (ISP) Mar 17-24, Apr 8-14 21,888
United Boston Mar 4-10, Mar 24-30, Apr 8-14 *35,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Houston Mar 3-9, Apr 7-13 35,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Chicago, Los Angeles (LAX) Mar 4-10, Apr 8-14 *35,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
New York (EWR) Mar 3-9, Mar 17-23, Mar 24-30, Apr 8-14 *35,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)

*Includes flights exclusively available to MileagePlus Premier members and qualified MileagePlus Chase Cardmembers.


The InterContinental San Juan sits along a beautiful two mile white sand stretch of Isla Verde Beach. The hotel has a beautiful lagoon-style pool and five restaurants, but you’ll want to make sure you also explore the historic Old San Juan which is not too far away. Award rooms can be booked for 50,000 IHG points per night.

For a more modern option, you’ll want to check out the AC Hotel San Juan Condado. It only opened last June and features a stunning rooftop pool with Caribbean views. Award nights cost 30,000 points. There aren’t many rooms available to book using points in March, but there are plenty throughout April.

Marriott folks can also stay at the La Concha Resort. It boasts five restaurants, three swimming pools and even a casino on-site. Award nights require 40,000 points per night and are available throughout March and April.


If you’re looking to indulge your senses with postcard-worthy beaches and not completely wipe out your stash of points and miles, then Jamaica is for you. While most resorts are family friendly, there are also many which are geared toward providing grownups some serious R&R. Given that most resorts offer a full array of activities, you won’t even need to step foot off the property to keep yourself entertained.

Jamaica island, Montego Bay
Photo by lucky-photographer / Getty Images.


Of the three major US carriers, American once again offers the most availability and the lowest fixed rate. That being said, you may be able to get better value by redeeming JetBlue or Southwest points.

Depart From Dates Miles/Points Round-Trip in Economy
American Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, New York (EWR, HPN, JFK, LGA, ISP) Mar 3-10, Mar 18-23, Apr 7-13 30,000
Los Angeles Apr 6-13 30,000
Miami All dates in March and April 30,000
Delta New York (JFK, LGA) Mar 3-10, Mar 10-17, Mar 18-23, Apr 7-13 29,000-50,000
Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit Mar 18-23, Apr 7-13 35,000
JetBlue New York (EWR, HPN, JFK, LGA) Mar 4-9, Mar 10-17, Mar 19-24, Mar 25-31 19,700-29,700
Orlando Mar 4-10, Mar 11-17, Mar 18-23, Mar 26-Apr 1, Apr 8-13 7,500-15,600
Southwest Baltimore Mar 17-24, Apr 7-14 17,496
New York (LGA) Mar 3-10, Mar 17-24 17,280-20,880
United Houston, New York (EWR, LGA) Mar 3-9, Mar 18-24 35,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)


Jamaica is the perfect opportunity to redeem your points for a stay at an all-inclusive resort. There are at least five all-inclusive points hotels on the island with availability this spring.

Two of them belong to Hyatt. The chain offers both its family-oriented Ziva brand and also its adults-only Zilara.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt.

The two hotels are located on Montego Bay and are adjacent to each other, allowing you to trek between the resorts for a greater selection of activities and dining outlets. Across the two, guests have access to over a dozen restaurants and bars as well as room service, which is available 24 hours a day and is free. Rooms are available at both hotels throughout March and April at a nightly rate of 25,000 points.

Hilton offers three all-inclusive resorts on the island. For families, there is the Rose Hall resort. It features the largest water park and the longest white sand beach on the island, as well as seven bars and restaurants. But unless you want to shell out around 100,000 points per night for a premium room, you’ll need to wait until April to book a standard reward for 70,000 points per night.

The other two Hilton properties, Jewel Paradise Cove and Jewel Dunn’s River, are adults-only, but have fairly widespread availability for around 60,000 points per night.

Rio De Janeiro

While you may have missed this year’s Carnival, March and April are still great times to visit Rio. Summer officially ends for the southern hemisphere on March 20th, but that doesn’t mean that the nice weather is going anywhere. With the average highs in March and April ranging between 86 and 89 degrees and the lows between 71 and 74, you’ll still be able to hit the beaches and get your dose of vitamin D. As of last month, US citizens could apply for $40 e-visas (as opposed to $160), making Brazil a much more attractive destination than ever before.

Photo by KMGS Photography / Getty Images
Photo by KMGS Photography / Getty Images


All three major US carriers have nearly wide-open availability to get you to and from Rio with miles in March and April, including a ton of nonstop options from Houston, Miami and New York. Plus, if you have a lot of American Airlines miles saved up, there’s currently great availability in business class at the sAAver level for 115,000 miles roundtrip.

Depart From Dates Miles/Points Round-Trip in Economy
American Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO) All dates in March and April 60,000
Miami Mar 23-31, All dates in April 60,000
Delta Detroit, New York (JFK, LGA) Mar 3-11, Mar 10-18, Apr 6-14 60,000-84,000
United Los Angeles, New York (EWR, JFK) All dates in March and April 60,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Houston Mar 2-11, Mar 11-18, Mar 23-31, Mar 30-Apr 8, Apr 6-15 60,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)


If you’re looking to stay right smack on Copacabana Beach then you’re best bet would be to go with the JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro. It’s definitely not the most luxurious JW Marriott property, but it’s location and stellar rooftop pool make up for it. Award nights cost 40,000 points per night, but if you’re already making the trip down to Brazil, hopefully you’ll be able to take advantage of the complimentary fifth night benefit.

The other major points hotel on Copacabana Beach is the Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana. However, I wasn’t able to find any standard level award space available in March or April so the only way to stay here with points would be to book a premium room reward for around a whopping 80,000 points per night.

If you prefer to have more of a resort experience then another option would be the Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort. It has three pools, two tennis courts and is the only hotel in the city to have a private beach. Award nights are available throughout March and April 12,000-16,000 points per night.

A much more upscale option would be the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro. However, while it’s located by one of the prettiest and most exclusive beach stretches in the city, it’s a good distance away from the city center (20 miles). There are award nights available throughout March and April for 15,000 points per night.


Although getting to Australia is quite a trek from the US, now is one of the best times of the year to visit Sydney. You’ll get to enjoy comfortable temperatures averaging in the mid 70s and avoid the larger summer crowds. But unless you come across a mistake fare (that doesn’t end up being cancelled), the trip will cost you a pretty penny when paying in cash, making this a great opportunity to redeem your points and miles.

Photo by Gallo Images / Getty Images.


While the only nonstop flights that will get you to the Land Down Under are out of Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Dallas (DFW) and Honolulu (HNL), you can still book award flights from a number of cities across the US.

Depart From Dates Miles/Points Round-Trip in Economy
American Chicago, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Los Angeles April 14-22 80,000
San Francisco (SFO) April 13-22 80,000
Delta Los Angeles Mar 3-11, Mar 9-18, Mar 16-25, Mar 23-Apr 1, Apr 13-22 90,000-100,000
Atlanta, Detroit, San Francisco (SFO), Seattle Mar 3-11, Apr 14-22 90,000
United Chicago, New York (EWR, LGA) Mar 2-11, Mar 9-18, Mar 16-25, Apr 13-22 *80,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Houston Mar 2-11, Mar 16-25, Mar 30-Apr 8, Apr 13-22 80,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)
Los Angeles, San Francisco (SFO) Mar 2-11, Mar 9-18, Mar 16-25, Mar 23-Apr 1, Apr 13-22 *80,000 (plus close-in ticketing fee)

*Includes flights exclusively available to MileagePlus Premier members and qualified MileagePlus Chase Cardmembers.


Sydney has a ton of opportunities for you to maximize hotel redemptions using points and miles regardless of your style or budget. For instance, if it’s luxury you’re looking for, then the Park Hyatt Sydney has you covered.

Its 30,000 points per night price tag may sound steep, but you’ll actually be getting a significantly greater value out of your points than what TPG valued them at in his latest monthly valuations.

If Holiday Inn is more your style (or budget), you can stay a block down from the Park Hyatt at the Holiday Inn Old Sydney for 40,000 points per night.

And for a more mid-level treat, Starwood offers The Westin Sydney, with rooms available in March and April for around 15,000 points per night.

Bottom Line

As you can see, it’s not too late to book yourself an amazing spring break getaway using points and miles. In case you don’t find award availability for the hotel you’d like to stay at during your preliminary search, you may find some open award nights if you search night by night, and then book the remaining nights separately with cash.

If you’re short on points and miles with any of the airlines or hotels mentioned in this post, there are a ton of credit cards which allow you to transfer points to travel partners. That being said, you should still always compare the cost of using fixed-value points to transferring points to an airline or hotel program. You may come across good last minute cash booking options, in which case you’ll be better off redeeming your points at a fixed-value through a travel portal.

Featured photo of Miami Beach by Malorny via Getty Images.

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

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