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It may be time to redeem those credit card points for a full vacation package somewhere tropical. Or maybe you live somewhere warm and just want to get away for a while.
What happened in the past week?! If you live anywhere in the U.S. other than the southeast or southwest, you may be pining for warmer climates right now. And here in the U.S. we’re starting to feel a bit bad for our neighbors to the North, too. Winter is on its way — it’s getting cold.
Can you take your past year’s spending and convert it into a full vacation package courtesy of your credit card company? Yes, you can. Let’s find out how.
Full Vacation Packages: What Do You Get?
What’s included in a vacation package? Most vacation packages include:
- Rental car
But do not include meals and attractions. (Unless you book a trip to an all-inclusive resort like Walt Disney World, where park tickets and meals may be included in the total price.) A cruise vacation package will also include meals, but usually will not include alcoholic beverages or shore excursions.
There are three easy ways you can redeem your credit card points for a full vacation package — or to defray the costs of a vacation package, even if you don’t have enough rewards to pay for the whole thing.
1. Book travel through an online travel agent.
You can book a full vacation package through an online travel agent like Expedia.com or Travelocity.com and cash in your rewards points for a full vacation package. For instance, with a Travelocity Mastercard, 20,000 points will get you a free vacation package, including the flight, car rental and hotel, with a value up to $400. If you put the rest of the package on your Travelocity Mastercard, you’ll earn triple points, so you can start accruing points for your next vacation.
2. Book through your credit card rewards website.
Most of the top-tier travel rewards credit cards, including World MasterCard, Miles by Discover, American Express and Chase Ultimate Rewards permit you to book full vacation packages right through their rewards website. In most cases, you can book online or call a travel agent through the 800 number listed on the website. While you can book separate air travel, rental cars or hotels online through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll have to call a travel agent to book a vacation package.
When you book a vacation package through your credit card rewards website, you can pay in full with your points, or put the balance on your credit card. You’ll want to make sure you have enough available credit on your card to pay for the trip if you don’t have enough points and, in most cases, you’ll earn bonus points for using your credit card. In some cases, you’ll use your credit card to purchase points, and then redeem them to pay for the trip. American Express offers some fantastic last minute travel deals that include full vacation packages with flight, rental car and hotel.
3. Call the Travel Specialists at your credit card company.
American Express, Chase and others have travel specialists on hand who can help you book your full vacation package by phone, using your points to pay for all or part of your vacation. If you’re not sure what you want, would like some professional recommendations and personalized service and surfing the Web to decide on your best choice for a trip doesn’t appeal to you, calling a travel specialist can streamline the process.
It may take some planning ahead when you use your credit cards in order to accrue enough points to pay for a full vacation package with your rewards points, but the pay off is worth it.