How to pay for a cruise with your reward points

From the airfare to the the ticket for your ship, your travel cards can cover nearly all of your costs


Cruising the blue waters of the Caribbean, soaking in the sun ... for free? Yes, you can. By using certain travel credit cards you can sail the blue seas at little or no cost.

Whether you’re a frequent cruiser or just want to try one out, use a general travel rewards card, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture Rewards card.

If you can score a big sign-up bonus, you can use the points to cover the cost of the cruise. That’s what I did. I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was offering 100,000 points for cardholders who spent $4,000 in the first three months, and I used those points to pay for my five-day Carnival cruise out of Jacksonville, Florida. I used my Capital One Venture Rewards card to pay for my airfare, then I clicked on my points in my account and was reimbursed for the travel purchase.

For the best deal, book through your card’s online travel portal. I went through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal to use my Sapphire Reserve points to book my cruise.

If you are willing to pay a hefty annual fee for a premium card, consider a card like the Sapphire Reserve, which counts each point you have as one and a half points when you book through Chase’s travel portal. For example, a $500 cruise would normally cost 50,000 points. Using this card, you use only 35,000 points.

Watch my video to see other tips and tricks to pay for your next cruise with nothing but rewards points. Happy sailing!

See related: Video: Couples score free honeymoons with points, How to avoid credit card problems aboard a cruise ship, Travel credit card reviewsBest travel reward cards8 ways to maximize your credit card reward points

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Updated: 02-18-2019