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Probably the biggest thing that I love about miles and points is the ability to travel in ways that you might not even think were possible. That is how it started for me and my family, with a 2014 family reunion to Lake Tahoe. Without miles and points, we probably would not have been able to afford the 8 cross-country plane tickets. Instead, a few credit card signups later, we used 170,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points instead. We’ve taken some crazy trips, like TWO Amtrak train rides, first class flights around the world and the Great Wall of China, just to name a few.

(SEE ALSO: So… I just rode in a helicopter!)

Planning a Cancun trip

Today’s story comes from my friend Chad, who reached out to me awhile ago wanting to plan a trip to Cancun. Like many of you probably, I am considered the “miles and points guy” to most of the people that I know. He said that he had a bunch of:

  • Delta American Express points
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Sapphire card

I know that Chad has a “crew” like me, but he said that this trip would only be for him and his wife. While it is possible to use miles and points for large families (that’s the whole point of this site after all), it does make it quite a bit easier when you only have to plan for 2 people. Chad did give me permission to share some of the basics of his trip with you guys.

a beach with a large building and a pool

Booking the Flights – Delta comes up big

I asked Chad a bit about what he was looking for. He had specific dates where he needed to travel, which can make things difficult sometimes, but at least it wasn’t over a holiday weekend. He had a few ideas for a hotel but nothing specific. First I looked at flights – he wanted to fly Delta out of Salt Lake City, since they have a direct flight. Delta isn’t known for being reasonable with their award prices, but in this case it wasn’t too bad.

a screenshot of a flight schedule

36,000 people for a one-way would be a bit more than I’d want to pay but not completely unreasonable, but then I realized that was actually showing this for TWO PEOPLE. On the return, Basic Economy was sold out so it as a bit more, but 82,000 Sky Miles for 2 people on non-stop flights is pretty good. Especially since the roundtrip cash price was nearly $800 per person

a screenshot of a phone

There is a little over $200 in government taxes and fees per person on the award flight.

Cancun hotel stay

Chad did suggest the Hard Rock Cancun as one option for a hotel stay. Since that’s not a points hotel, he would need to redeem his Ultimate Rewards for 1.25 or 1.5 cents per point (depending on if he has the Sapphire Preferred or Sapphire Reserve). For his dates, a 7 night stay would be 266,000 Ultimate Rewards points with the Sapphire Reserve  or 319,200 points with the Sapphire Preferred. I have not been to Cancun (but it’s on the list!) but I know there is a Hyatt Zilara there. I had a great time at the Hyatt Zilara Montego Bay (pictured below), so I suggested that as an option.

(SEE ALSO: Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall Montego Bay Jamaica review)

a view of a beach from a window

It’s 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night, so 175,000 total for a 7-night stay. Since Chase transfers 1:1 to Hyatt, it would be 175,000 Chase points per night. That’s a pretty great deal, considering the cash cost for those 7 nights was over $4,000. That’s about 2.38 cents per point in value.

a screenshot of a computer

A $5,747 Cancun trip

So what’s the total?

  • Direct flights for 2 on Delta to Cancun – 82,000 Sky Miles compared to a cash cost of $1,582
  • 7 nights at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun – 175,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (transferred to Hyatt) compared to a cash cost of $4,165

Total vacation value of $5,747 saved by miles and points. Yes, that’s a good chunk of points redeemed, but also an outstanding value. And unlike some “valuations” where people count a first class flight as being “worth” $15,000 because that’s the cash cost, to me this more accurately represents an actual vacation that a real person would actually consider taking.

Aren’t miles and points fun?

What’s your best miles and points trip? Leave it in the comments

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