All-inclusive resorts offer one of the most relaxing vacation options out there. With all your food, entertainment, and fun included for a single price, you can spend your vacation enjoying life instead of worrying over the details. Here’s everything you need to know about booking these resorts for free with credit card rewards.
Many All-Inclusive Resorts are in Mexico and the Caribbean
While properties that include food and drink are all over the globe, most all-inclusive resorts you can book with hotel points are in Mexico or the Caribbean. This makes these properties perfect for people who want to relax on a beautiful beach, snorkel, or simply get away from it all.
Check Out the Hyatt Credit Card
The Hyatt Credit Card lets you earn points good for several all-inclusive resorts. Options include family-friendly Hyatt Ziva properties in Mexico and the Caribbean along with adults-only Hyatt Zilara resorts. The Hyatt Ziva in Rose Hall, Jamaica is an absolute dream with a beautiful beach and warm weather all year long.
Consider Earning IHG Rewards Points
IHG Rewards is another program that lets you earn points for all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and Jamaica. Sign up for the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card to earn a huge signup bonus you can use for free nights.
Explore Wyndham Rewards
Wyndham Rewards is another hotel loyalty program that lets you redeem points for all-inclusive properties. This hotel loyalty program also offers co-branded rewards cards with Barclays. Once you start racking up rewards, you’ll be thrilled to find all Wyndham properties cost just 15,000 points per night.
Don’t Forget Chase Ultimate Rewards
If you’re not sure which all-inclusive brand you want to stay with, consider getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. Both cards let you earn points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program that is transferable to programs like IHG Rewards and World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
You Can Book All-Inclusive Hotels through the Chase Travel Portal
In addition to letting you transfer points to hotel brands 1:1, Chase Ultimate Rewards also lets you book travel directly through their travel portal. This option lets you redeem points for all-inclusive hotels all over the globe — including ones that don’t belong to the big hotel brands.
Hilton Honors Offers All-Inclusive Resorts, Too
You can also book all-inclusive resorts with Hilton Honors points, and you can earn those points with a co-branded Hilton card like the Hilton Aspire. The all-inclusive Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Jamaica offers a picturesque oceanfront location with beautiful views, a spa, and a stellar kids club.
Spouses Can Double Up on Signup Bonuses
Many travel and hotel credit cards offer huge signup bonuses you can earn after you meet a minimum spending requirement. Spouses can double up on these bonuses — each earning their own — to earn double the free travel. This is true even if they live at the same address.
Look into Earning Flexible Travel Credit
Travelers should also note that some cards offer flexible travel credit you can use to book any hotel — including all-inclusive resorts. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is an excellent option since it offers a large signup bonus, 2x points on every purchase, and rewards you can redeem for any travel expense of $100 or more.
Watch Out for Annual Fees
While many rewards credit cards let you earn points good for all-inclusive resorts, some charge annual fees. Make sure to compare fees and check whether the rewards you earn will be worth it. Also look for cards that waive the annual fee the first year.
You Need Excellent Credit to Get Approved for Rewards Cards
You typically need very good credit to qualify for the top hotel, airline and travel credit cards. This typically means you have a FICO score of 740 or higher. If your credit is subpar, you’ll need to improve it before you qualify for most of these offers.
You Can Book Luxury All-Inclusive Resorts
Believe it or not, you can book luxury all-inclusive properties with rewards. The Hyatt Zilara in Cancun is a solid example. This adults-only, luxury property features upscale dining, a spectacular beach, stunning rooms, and plenty of pampering.
Yes, Your Food Will Be Included
If you have never stayed in an all-inclusive resort before, you may not realize that most let you dine and drink all day long. This typically means you get three meals a day plus an ongoing bounty of snacks and dining options outside meal times.
You May Need to Pay Extra for Specialty Restaurants
While you may be dizzy thinking of all the food you’ll eat, keep in mind that some all-inclusive resorts have specialty restaurants you have to pay for. To avoid the expense, stick to the free restaurants available in the nightly rate. There are usually several free options to choose from.
Drink Unlimited Alcohol
If you’re someone who loves to imbibe, all-inclusive resorts can be an especially good deal. You can drink for free all day and all night provided you’ll drink house wines, beers, and mixed drinks. Some properties do charge extra for top-shelf liquor.
You Should Still Tip
Even if your resort stay is free, you should still bring cash to tip servers, bartenders, and maids. You can even tip in American dollars since many Caribbean countries use the USD and Mexican workers are happy to accept it. Trust us, the hard-working people who devote their lives to these resorts will appreciate it.
You May Need to Pay an Upcharge to Bring Kids
Some all-inclusive resorts let you book rooms at double occupancy with an understanding you’ll pay more for kids. For example, the Hyatt Ziva Cancun charges 25,000 points per night for a room for two and 12,500 points extra per child each night.
Some All-Inclusive Resorts Let Kids Stay Free
Also note that some all-inclusive properties you can book with points don’t charge extra for kids. At the Holiday Inn Jamaica Resort, an all-inclusive property in Montego Bay, Jamaica, kids under 12 stay and eat free when they come with parents who book with cash or points.
You Can Leave the Kids at Home
While all-inclusive resorts are mostly geared to families, some are adults-only and won’t even let you bring the kids! If you need a break and some adult fun, consider booking one of these properties and leaving the kids home with their grandparents.
Book Early for the Best Availability
To have the best chance at the best availability, make sure to book your all-inclusive resort with points at least six months ahead of time. Since some hotel rewards programs limit award availability, this is the best way to ensure the nights you want won’t be blacked out.
Some Programs Let You Book with Points and Cash
Also note that some hotel loyalty programs like IHG Rewards and Hilton Honors let you book rooms with a combination of points and cash. While free hotel stays are better, points and cash options can let you stretch your points further if you’re short on points for the redemption you want.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
Make sure to bring everything you’ll need for a fun week along when you pack your bags for your all-inclusive resort. Toiletries like sunscreen, face lotion, and medicines can cost a small fortune at these properties, and you don’t want to overpay.
Don’t Forget to Earn Airline Miles for Your Flights
While getting your hotel stay for free may seem amazing, don’t forget that you can also earn airline miles to get to your destination. Make sure to check out the best airline credit cards to see which ones can get you to Mexico and the Caribbean with miles.
Travel is Never Really Free
If you don’t want to fail at travel rewards, never assume that a free hotel stay will result in an entirely free trip. You’ll have transportation to pay for, and you may want to tip people generously, dine in specialty restaurants, or buy souvenirs. At the very least, you’ll need to pay for transportation from the airport to your resort and back.
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