Once you have a family, spring break may not be as wild as it was in your college days. However, it’s still the perfect time to enjoy a few days off and plan an adventure everyone will love.
If you’ve ever planned a spring break getaway, you know the common problem all too well: prices skyrocket! Most families with school-age children are “locked” into traveling at the set times the school calendar dictates: summer, winter holiday season, and spring break.
The end result is a classic supply and demand crunch. Flights and hotels book up quickly, and what’s left can command 2x, 3x, or even 5x normal prices.
But here’s the good news: even the most budget-conscious family travelers can enjoy an amazing spring break vacation using points and miles (and much less cash!). Sometimes it's a matter of having one of the best travel credit cards in your wallet.
- What to consider when booking a spring break trip
- How to kick-start your family’s spring break trip fund
- Don’t regret not taking the trip
What to consider when booking a spring break trip
The old adage “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is especially true when it comes to award travel. The first step to creating the ultimate spring break trip for your family using points and miles is to develop a clear strategy.
Where do you want to go?
Spring break traditionally conjures images of sunny beaches and tropical breezes. Destinations like Florida, Mexico, Jamaica, and the Bahamas usually rank among the most popular spots. While spending spring break with Mickey Mouse can be a blast, it’s also one of the most crowded times at Walt Disney World.
You can certainly use points and miles to help plan a fantastic trip to any of these spring break staples. But don’t be afraid to think outside the box, too.
How about Panama City, Panama instead of Panama City, Florida? What about a French adventure in Montreal instead of Paris? Your points, miles, and cash can often go further when there’s less demand.
Many popular airlines like Southwest, Delta, and United now have dynamic award programs. That means the amount of miles the ticket will cost you is directly tied to the cash price of that ticket.
In other words, the more expensive the cash price, the more miles your ticket will cost. And often, the more popular the destination, the more expensive the ticket.
But if your family really wants to go to a popular destination for spring break, no problem! You can still offset the cost by using your points and miles. With flexible currency like Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can easily book virtually any trip you like.
But first, decide as a family where you want to go. This important step will help you plan how many points and miles you’ll need to make the spring break trip of your dreams come true.
How much do you want to spend?
Even if your goal is to spend as little cash out of pocket as possible, deciding on a budget you want to stick to is important when planning any trip.
And I’m not just talking about a cash budget. You should also think about how many points and miles you’re willing to spend for your vacation, and how many you have earmarked to save for future trips.
That’s because points and miles are forms of “currency.” You’ll spend different amounts of points and miles based on how popular your dates are, how crowded your destination is, and what kind of seats and rooms you’re looking to book.
If you set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend in cash and in points/miles, it will help you plan a trip you’re comfortable with and will enjoy to the fullest.
What kind of experience do you want to have?
There are different strokes for different folks, and there’s a way to achieve almost any experience you’re looking for using points and miles. But putting some thought into what kind of accommodations would suit your family best will help shape the planning of your trip.
Do you want to fly economy and stay in budget hotels? Would you rather splurge on business class airline seats and enjoy a luxury resort? Or is a combination of these styles ideal for your trip? As long as you make sure you’re sticking to your budget, any of it is possible.
When are you looking to travel?
When it comes to booking travel during peak times, in most cases the earlier you do it the better.
This is especially true when you’re trying to redeem airline miles and hotel points. You’ll want to make sure you can find enough seats for your entire family on the flight that you want, and that the perfect hotel on the beach doesn’t sell out.
Major airline carriers like United, Delta, and American open up their schedules as far as 330 days or more in advance. Schedules vary for family favorites like Southwest and Frontier. And most hotel chains take bookings a year — or even more — in advance.
If you didn’t plan that far ahead, don’t worry. It’s probably not too late to subsidize part of your trip with credit card points and miles. But to make sure you’re able to take the spring break trip your family really wants — and ensure you’re not hit with pesky close-in booking fees or sold out hotels — it’s best to plan and book well in advance.
How many points and miles do you have now?
Goals are great! But be realistic in your assessment of how much you have now, and how much you could conceivably earn before you book your trip. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to generate 3x more points next month than you usually get from your regular spend.
And it’s important to remember that not all points are created equal.
Just like the U.S. Dollar and the Japanese Yen are worth different amounts, a Hilton hotel point and a Chase Ultimate Reward point do not necessarily have the same value.
That’s because Ultimate Rewards are flexible, and can be used to book airfare, hotels, travel experiences, and even car rentals. If you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can use them to book travel directly through the Chase portal for 1.25 cents per point. Or, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points directly to many airline and hotel partners. On the other hand, a Hilton point can only be used at a Hilton hotel.
When you’re planning a trip, it’s important to understand the value of your points in order to get a true sense of what you’ll need for your family vacation. (Here’s a great guide to understanding point values.)
How to kick-start your family’s spring break trip fund
You know where you want to go, when you want to go, and how much you want to spend. Ready to start creating some incredible spring break memories?
There are several great credit card options for travel rewards that come with hefty welcome bonuses. These bonuses can jump-start your points balances, and get you well on your way to the perfect family spring break vacation.
Here’s a look at a few of our favorite credit cards for family travel rewards.
(Note: If you’re thinking about applying for multiple cards, it’s critical that you create a strategy and fully understand the Chase 5/24 Rule.)
|Card name||Welcome offer||Rewards rate||Annual fee|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and eligible online grocery purchases; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases||$95|
|Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card||Earn a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening||2 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and 5 miles per dollar on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel||$95|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases on your new card in the first 6 months||5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare (on up to $500,000 per calendar year, after that 1X) and eligible hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases||$695 (Terms apply)|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on participating Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; and 1X points on all other purchases||$99|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||Earn 170,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months||12X points on eligible purchases at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; 4X points on U.S. online retail purchases; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases||$150 (Terms apply)|
All information about Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card has been collected independently by FinanceBuzz.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
This is a top family favorite travel rewards credit card. That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards points are straightforward and easy to redeem. You can either use them to book travel directly in the Chase portal for a value of 1.25 cents each, or you can transfer directly to many large travel partners like Marriott, United, and Southwest.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card earns 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and eligible online grocery purchases; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. While this isn’t the top-earning card out there, it’s still a solid return for a reasonable $95 annual fee. Factor in the 60,000 point welcome bonus after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (worth $750 in travel when you redeem through the portal), and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an easy win for many families.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you’re a busy family that doesn’t have time to spend thinking about loads of earning categories or involved redemptions, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card deserves a look. You can easily redeem miles for a statement credit on any travel you’ve booked — no hassle, no blackout dates. This is a great way to subsidize spring break travel expenses, even if you’re set on going to a popular destination at a peak time.
Capital One Venture miles can also be transferred to more than 15 travel partners. The 75,000 mile welcome bonus is worth a minimum of $750 in travel — a great kick-start to any family trip.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
This card is often overlooked by budget-conscious families because of its $695 annual fee. But when you consider all the benefits that come with it, it’s worth a second look for family travel.
As an Amex Platinum cardmember, you’ll also get access to more than 1,400 airline lounges around the world — another great way to help erase the cost of food and drinks for your family before your flight. You can also enjoy up to $200 in Uber Cash. Add in the extra perks you’ll get from the complimentary Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold status, and The Platinum Card® from American Express becomes a great option for families. Select benefits require enrollment.
Check out The Platinum Card® from American Express review for more details.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest has a long-standing reputation as a family favorite for airlines, and it’s easy to see why. You won’t pay extra for bags or for fees to change or cancel your flight. You will enjoy priority Family Boarding if you’re traveling with kids under 6, and you’ll feel at ease with the lighthearted Southwest staff.
There are three different personal Southwest credit cards to choose from. Families often like the mid-tier Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card because it comes with 6,000 Cardmember anniversary points and a reasonable annual fee of $99. You can earn 3X points on Southwest purchases; 2X points on participating Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners; local transit and commuting, including rideshare; and on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming; and 1X points on all other purchases.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Hilton has a large footprint of family-friendly hotel properties all over the world, and using the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card is a great way to generate a lot of Hilton points. You’ll earn 12X points on eligible purchases at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 6X points at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; 4X points on U.S. online retail purchases; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
Add in the impressive welcome bonus, and you could have an impressive stash of Hilton points that can go a long way in booking your family’s spring break trip. Earn 170,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.
Plus, when you book with points, you’ll enjoy a 5th night free. That can add up to significant hotel savings for your family.
Hilton brands like Embassy Suites, Home2, and Homewood Suites are perfect for families looking to enjoy larger rooms at mid-range prices. But if you want to splurge on something more luxurious, you’ll find upscale Hilton hotels and resorts virtually anywhere you want to go.
Read our Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review to learn more.
Don’t regret not taking the trip
Planning a spring break trip for your family can be daunting. If you’re worried about high prices, crowded destinations, and sold-out accommodations, it can seem easier to skip the trip altogether.
But by taking a little time to put together a plan, and by using miles and points and help cover the costs, your family’s perfect spring break trip can become a reality.
If you want simple ways to book travel directly at a good value, you can do it! Redeeming your Ultimate Rewards points directly through the Chase portal is an easy way to book your airfare, your hotel, rental car, or even your city tour.
Or, if you’re willing to put in a little more effort, you can transfer your points to a variety of transfer partners and find even greater value.
Bottom line: no matter where you want to go or how you want to get there, miles and points can help make it happen. The bonuses you can get from a variety of travel rewards credit cards can give your family a great kick-start on your spring break trip.
Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards
- Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
- Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
- Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
- No foreign transaction fees
- Apply Now
- Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire.
- 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
- Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
- Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
- 0% Introductory APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the intro APR offer ends, 18.24% - 28.24% Variable APR will apply. A 3% fee applies to all balance transfers.
- If you're a Preferred Rewards member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
- Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
- This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
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