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Hurricane Maria might have dampened your Caribbean travel plans as the region continues to pick up. But, tourism will return to normal very soon. In fact, it might not be too early to begin planning how you will fly to Puerto Rico with award miles. Now can be the best time to travel as other tourists might overlook Puerto Rico. And, you don’t need a passport!
This article will break down how you can fly to Puerto Rico with award miles by individual airline. You will also see which travel partners can boost the value of your award points. If you have been wanting to visit an exotic paradise, Puerto Rico can be an excellent option.
Your most affordable way onto the island is to fly into the capital city of San Juan at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport (SJU).
In addition to flying to SJU, the commercial carriers also offer nonstop flights to the following cities:
- Aguadilla (BQN)
- Ceiba (RVR)
- Ponce (PSE)
- Vieques (VQS)
Due to the recent point devaluations, booking directly through American Airlines might not be the most affordable option. If you do, you can expect the following point requirements for roundtrip flight:
- Economy: 25,000 miles off-peak (30,000 miles peak)
- Business Class: 50,000 miles
Your best option for getting these low flight prices is to live near an American hub like Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, or Miami that fly directly into San Juan (SJU).
Book AA Flights Through British Airways Avios Instead
While a 30,000-mile roundtrip award flight isn’t bad for a domestic carrier, the same flight can still be cheaper when booked through the British Airways Avios. They are a 1:1 transfer partner with the Chase Sapphire, Amex Platinum, and Amex Premier Rewards Gold.
The exact same American flight can cost 15,000 Avios plus taxes and fees if you can catch a direct flight from the mainland. Award flights on American can be limited, so, be sure to check availability before you book. In some instances, you might even have to call 1-800-452-1201 to check award availability to book your flight on American with Avios.
Since Delta doesn’t have a published award chart, it can be rather difficult to pinpoint the exact number of SkyMiles you will pay for an award flight. Award prices will vary based on how many connections are required, the current ticket price, and route demand.
What you do know is that a round-trip Delta award flight generally costs 30,000 SkyMiles for an economy seat and 60,000 miles for business class. You might be able to save a few miles as Korean Air (a SkyTeam Alliance member) lets you book a partner flight on Delta for 25,000 miles round-trip for an economy seat. That’s a 5,000-mile savings per seat.
Another partner flight option with Flying Blue where you can expect to the same rate as booking directly through Delta (30,000 miles for economy and 60,000 for business class). If you own the Chase Sapphire Preferred this is a “backdoor” way to book a Delta award flight when the Korean Air flights are booked.
You have a few different rewards program transfer options when it comes to flying Delta as they are a direct 1:1 transfer partner with American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest. When you transfer at least 20,000 Starpoints at once to an airline as an Amex SPG cardholder, you will receive a 5,000 Starpoint transfer bonus!
Another discount airline you need to check out is JetBlue as they serve the San Juan (SJU), Aguadilla (BQN), and Ponce (PSE) airports. Can you say “Hello Puerto Rico!”
Ticket prices will depend on your flight times and departure city. A roundtrip flight can cost 15,200 miles plus $12.20 in taxes which makes JetBlue the 2nd cheapest carrier in most cases. If you can fly from Ft. Lauderdale, you can fly for 4,900 TrueBlue points each way.
Your best option for earning and redeeming credit card points is with one of the JetBlue credit cards offered by Barclays. The JetBlue Plus (unavailable) card gives you up to four free checked bags, a 10% point redemption bonus, and a 5,000-point cardholder anniversary bonus that will pay for one leg of your trip.
JetBlue is also a Membership Rewards travel partner, but, the everyday rate is 250 MR to 200 TrueBlue which isn’t a good deal unless you really want an award flight and have points to burn. Periodically, there will be a 1:1 transfer special to JetBlue with either the Amex Platinum or Premier Rewards Gold cards.
One of the most popular discount airlines is Southwest and they serve Puerto Rico. Prices will fluctuate based on which airport you fly from. For example, a direct flight from Ft. Lauderdale (FLL) to San Juan (SJU) can cost 4,680 plus $5.60 each way. But, a nonstop from Houston (HOU) can cost 10,000 points to 20,000 points each way depending on the departure time.
The easiest way to accumulate and transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points is with a Chase Sapphire product since Southwest is one of the 1:1 Ultimate Rewards Partners.
You can also apply for a co-branded Southwest credit cards which appear to be one of the non-5/24 Chase cards that will not reject your application if you have had too many recent credit card applications inquiries. An added bonus for owning a Southwest credit card is that the sign-up bonus counts to your annual 110,000 point Companion Pass requirement.
United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Sapphire Reserve. Of course, Chase also offers two co-branded United credit cards that let you earn United miles on every single purchase and even check two bags for free.
Reward flights to Puerto Rico from the continental U.S. cost 36,000 miles for economy round-trip and 60,000 miles for business class. As an economy seat for one person can cost $662 in the spring of 2018, your miles are worth 1.8 cents each by booking your flight directly through United instead of the Chase travel portal where they would only be worth 1.25 cents each with the Sapphire Preferred.
Summary on Flying to Puerto Rico with Award Miles
Even though Puerto Rico is a small island about the size of Connecticut, there are many different award flight options. If you live near a JetBlue or Southwest hub, check those award flights first. Otherwise, you should have no problem booking a flight with a major U.S. carrier if you have flexible rewards card or a co-branded airline rewards card.
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