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Do you need help scratching upcoming vacations off your bucket list? Airline miles make it easier to reach those exotic travel destinations that are expensive when you pay cash. And if you can take advantage of a good best limited-time credit card bonus offers, you may be able to get to your destination sooner than you thought. If you want to redeem your miles for some of the highest values possible, focus on these vacation spots.
Hawaii may seem too obvious but this is one of the easiest-to-reach exotic travel destinations from the mainland. For starters, you don’t need to get a passport or worry about paying foreign transaction fees.
Second, there are several islands you can visit with plenty of lodging and award flight options. In fact, many airlines have been increasing the number of flights to Hawaii, such as Southwest Airlines.
You will find the best award flight prices if you can fly from the U.S. West Coast. If possible, avoid booking a flight on the legacy carriers like American or United Airlines as they tend to require the most points.
Instead, try booking partner flights to fly on smaller airlines like Alaska Airlines. It’s possible to book a round-trip on these “alternate airlines” for what the legacies charge for a one-way award ticket.
Related: Alaska Airlines Credit Card
British Airways Avios
A round-trip main cabin flight from the U.S. West Coast (i.e., California, Oregon, and Washington) can cost 25,000 Avios. You will fly either Alaska Airlines or American Airlines as a partner flight from your British Airways Executive Club account.
You can pay 22,500 Avios each way when booking the same flight directly from American Airlines.
British Airways is a 1:1 transfer partner for American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Another great option is Singapore Airlines as you can book partner flights on Alaska Air or United Airlines. Singapore is also a transfer partner for many of the leading travel credit card programs. It can be easier to redeem Singapore KrisFlyer miles if you want to pool your various credit card points.
It’s possible to find a round-trip main cabin flight for 25,000 miles with Alaska Air or 35,000 miles on United.
There’s plenty to do in Costa Rica where you can stay on the Pacific or Caribbean coast if you love the beach. You might also like staying in the country’s interior like the capital city of San Jose. Exploring the rainforest or one of Costa Rica’s many national parks can also be good.
The two best airports to fly into are San Jose (SJO) or Liberia (LIR). JetBlue and Southwest Airlines can offer the cheapest award flights if you live near an airport they operate from.
With Southwest, tt’s possible to book a round-trip flight for around 25,000 Rapid Rewards. You also get two free checked bags which can also minimize your incidental costs. This can also be a fun route to use your Southwest Companion Pass so you only pay fees and taxes for your travel companion’s seat.
Learn more: Best Southwest Airlines Credit Cards
While most people see the Caribbean on cruises, Jamaica is a great place to fly to. For example, you might stay at the adults-only Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall resort in Montego Bay. Reward nights start at 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night and you get an all-inclusive experience.
You can fly Southwest for 13,572 miles from Baltimore (BWI) into Montego Bay (MBJ). If you’re already in the southern United States, the flights can cost less than 10,000 miles each way.
All the major carriers serve Jamaica. You might be able to save a few points by booking a partner flight through an alliance partner like using British Airways Avios to fly American Airlines.
Tahiti is one of the most exotic travel destinations on the planet. It’s also one of the closest Pacific islands from the United States. There are plenty of top-notch resorts near the capital city of Papeete. For more luxury, you might consider traveling to the tiny island of Bora Bora.
Your best award flight option is flying Air France (a Capital One transfer partner) from Los Angeles (LAX) to Papeete (PPT). One-way flights start at 25,500 miles in economy or 64,000 miles in business class. You can quickly pool your miles by transferring your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card miles, for example, to your Flying Blue account.
Alternatively, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is also an Air France transfer partner. Both the Venture and Sapphire Preferred are considered some of the top travel credit cards. You can compare the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Capital One Venture cards to find the better one for you.
While most people visit Australia if they visit that side of the world, New Zealand is a great alternative. There’s plenty of lush green scenery, caves, and beaches to see. Bring along one of the best metal credit cards (many of which are also top travel cards) and go with the flow.
When space is available, you can book award flights through Virgin Atlantic. A round-trip ticket on Air New Zealand can cost 80,000 miles in economy or 125,000 miles in business class.
Thailand can be an exciting way to enjoy Asian culture. You might stay in Bangkok or eventually work your way to a beach resort like Phuket.
Try flying into Bangkok to have the best award flight availability. If you have a Marriott credit card, you can transfer your points to Alaska Air Lines and book a partner flight on Cathay Pacific where a round-trip ticket starts at 60,000 miles in economy or 140,000 miles in first class.
Another attractive option is transferring your miles to ANA if you earn American Express Membership Rewards. Round-trip economy class flights start at 55,000 miles and 195,000 miles for first class. You will fly on ANA if coming from Tokyo and Singapore Airlines if flying into Bangkok from Singapore.
Related: Best Marriott Credit Cards
Peru’s Machu Picchu is one of the grandest spots to see in South America. This mythical city can be different than anything you might see elsewhere in the world. While in Peru, take time to sightsee in Lima including the colonial churches and plazas.
American Airlines offers several flights to Lima. Off-peak flights in economy class can cost 35,000 miles roundtrip. First-class costs 60,000 miles roundtrip. You might be able to save a few points by first transferring your points to British Airways.
You may also have success by flying a Star Alliance partner. Instead of booking directly through United, you can see if Avianca LifeMiles has space.
Related: Avianca LifeMiles Credit Cards
Summary of Exotic Travel Destinations Made Easier With Airline Miles
These exotic travel destinations can be some of the best places to visit in 2020. You can enjoy great experiences and get better redemption values for these popular routes. Gear up with one of the best travel credit cards and make way for your next adventure.
What is an exotic vacation?
An exotic vacation can differ for each person. Some people enjoy the beach while others cherish the mountains or busy cities. In general, exotic vacations are destinations that are different than where you normally go. Maybe you visit a tropical beach instead of the beach that’s on the Gulf, Atlantic, or Pacific coast.
Typically these trips cost several thousand dollars because they are in distant locations. In some cases, they are hard to reach and may require several flights or alternate means of transportation such as rail or bus.
What is a good value for airline miles?
The best value for most airline miles is 6 cents each. You usually get this rate when flying international for business and first-class seats. For main cabin seats, you can expect a redemption value between 2 and 3 cents. At a minimum, only redeem your airline miles when they are worth at least 1 cent each.
Flights that typically cost the most are the best place to crunch redemption values. You have more “negotiation room” to redeem your points for a discount award flight.
You can also get more value from airline miles by booking partner flights. For example, you can fly Alaska Airlines using British Airway Avios.
Is paying with miles worth it?
Paying with airline miles is worth it when each point is worth at least 1 cent each. Although, many airlines offer flights where your points can be worth between 2 and 6 cents each.
It may not be worth paying with miles when the cash price for the ticket is less than $100. This is because airline miles are typically worth less than 1 cent each. Even using points for these low-cost flights can still be worth it if you need to use miles before they expire or you don’t want to pay cash for this flight.
- Best Miles Credit Cards for Travel and Airlines
- Book Star Alliance Flights With Miles
- Unique Ways to Earn Airline Miles
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.