Extend your summer for last-minute beach trip on points

September trips beckon with reduced airfares and hotel rates

Summer Hull
Personal Finance Writer
Summer Hull writes the weekly "Get to the Points" column for CreditCards.com

Get to the Points

The date on the calendar may say September, but thankfully summer hasn’t totally left us quite yet. If you are craving one last summer family trip before fall is in full effect, start packing!

This time of year is perfect for using your miles and points as the peak season of June through August has passed. This means there are more options for award flights and hotel rooms for a September beach trip than you might have had in July or August.

Things start cooling down pretty quickly up north once September rolls in, but for places like southern California, Florida and points farther south, things are still plenty warm for a dip in the water.  

Take advantage of a flat 15,000-point award chart
Wyndham Rewards has a flat award chart where all their hotels are just 15,000 points per night, which means you can pick from any of their oceanfront properties. They have ocean-front resorts in a variety of locations, including the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach. Clearwater Beach is on Florida's west coast, boasting white sands, calm waters and named America’s Best Beach by TripAdvisor – even beating out Hawaii!

If Clearwater isn't on your radar, you can also put the Wyndham Rewards points you earned from your Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature card or elsewhere for a beach getaway in Miami, San Diego, Puerto Rico, and yes, even Honolulu.

Save 7,500 with the American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards list
If your beach trip requires hopping on a plane, American Airlines has multiple beach destinations on their Reduced Mileage Awards list for September travel. If you have a co-branded American Airlines credit card, such as the Aviator Red MasterCard, the Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard or the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, you can get 7,500 miles off the usual round trip price of 25,000 miles per domestic saver award if you are heading to a city on this rotating monthly list. A few of the coastal destinations on the American Airlines Reduced Mileage list for September are Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Nantucket.

Use Hyatt points for last-minute hotel rooms
In terms of hotels, I have found that Hyatt points are extremely useful for last-minute beach getaways as that program makes all standard rooms available on points as long as they are still for sale with cash. Not only that, but they have very fair points rates for many properties on or near the beach. Even if you don’t have Hyatt points available, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Reward points from cards such as the Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred or Ink Preferred instantly into a Hyatt account at a 1:1 ratio.

As a small sampling, for many dates in September, Hyatt still has award rooms available at the Hyatt Place Pensacola for 8,000 points per night, the Grand Hyatt Manchester San Diego for 20,000 points per night, or the Hyatt Centric Key West for 25,000 points per night. All of these properties would get you close to the water on points without requiring you to empty out your piggy bank for your spur-of-the-moment pilgrimage to the beach.

Use Southwest Rapid Rewards points to head to the islands
While most major airline miles can take you to the beach, I have found Southwest Rapid Reward points are top dog when planning beach trips just a few weeks out, especially if an international destination is on your mind.

The number of points required to purchase a ticket is tied to the selling price, so while you don’t want to book at the absolute last minute when rates usually jump, you can still find late summer and early fall round trip flights from the United States to Mexico and the Caribbean starting at about 10,000 Rapid Reward points per person, plus taxes and fees.

Southwest has a very handy flexible date search chart that shows you the cheapest dates to travel on points or dollars for a month at a time. Also, remember that you can transfer your Chase Ultimate Reward points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio if your Rapid Rewards balance is running low.

The kids may be in school during the week, and football may be on the TV on the weekend, but that doesn’t mean you missed the window for a quick points-fueled beach getaway. Check those point balances and get to searching online for the best way to get keep that summer tan from fading before fall pushes out the last rays of summer.

See related: Ways to rack up points for last-minute, back-to-school shopping, When it makes sense to charge kids' school, day care costs

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Updated: 11-15-2018