How Can I Pay for a Maldives Seaplane Transfer with Points?

Jul 3, 2018

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

The new Marriott award chart was announced last week, and with it came a temporary redemption sweet spot for one of the best hotels in the world: the St. Regis Maldives. While the news is exciting, TPG reader Aliza notes there’s one part of the journey that can be difficult to cover with points or miles…

Is there anyway to avoid paying the the $650 round-trip seaplane cost to the Maldives?

TPG Reader Aliza

While you can use points and miles to get nearly all the way to the Maldives, it’s the very last part at the end that can trip you up: the seaplane (or boat) transfer to your preferred resort. The cost of that transfer can range from $100 for a round-trip boat ride to the Kandooma Maldives, an IHG property, to $645 round-trip per person for a flight to St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort.

If you’re traveling as a group, some of those costs can really add up. A family of four would have to shell out nearly $2600 to fly from Malé (MLE) to Vommuli!

So what can you do to lower the cost? There are two simple methods. The first is using points or miles from a credit card that allow you to “wipe away” travel purchases directly from your statement. Cards like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or, if you’re a business owner, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business are great options for this. You’re only going to get 1 cent per point in value, but both cards earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases for an effective 2% return on your spending. So, you could apply 50,000 Venture miles to cover the cost of a $500 seaplane ticket.

Here’s a list of cards that are solid options when redeeming points directly as statement credits against travel purchases or for cash back:

Point Value Earning Sign-Up Bonus Annual Fee
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card 1 cent 2x miles on everything (10x miles on purchases) 50,000 miles after $3,000 in spend in 3 months $95 (waived 1st year)
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
1 cent 1.25x miles on everything 20,000 miles after $1,000 in spend in 3 months $0
Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card 1 cent 2-3.5x points on travel and dining. 1.5-2.62x on everything else. 50,000 points after $3,000 in spend in 90 days $95
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard  1.05 cents 2x miles on everything 70,000 miles after $5,000 in spend in 90 days $89 (waived 1st year)
Capital One Spark Miles for Business 1 cent 2x miles on everything  50,000 miles after $4,500 in spend in 3 months. $95 (waived 1st year)

The second, and even easier option, is to use a travel credit from a credit card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 credit that automatically applies to any travel purchase, in this case a seaplane or boat transfer. The US Bank Altitude Reserve card has a similar credit, although a bit higher at $325 per year. Since these credits apply automatically, you’ll want to make sure to time the purchase of your seaplane or boat ride to coincide with when your account is eligible for the credit.

Finally, if you decide you’re not going to use points or a travel credit and instead will pay straight cash, you’ll want to use a card that earns bonus points on travel purchases. Your best bet is again the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which would net you a 3x points per dollar on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) or a 6.3% return according to TPG’s latest valuations. The Citi Premier Card also offers 3x points on travel (a 5.1% return) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card can work too, earning 2x points on travel.

Thanks for the question, Aliza, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at

For more on saving money in the Maldives, check out our coverage here:

Featured image by Stefan Irvine/LightRocket 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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