Maximizing Your Points and Miles on Cruise Vacations

Maximizing Your Points and Miles on Cruise Vacations

If you’re someone who loves going on cruises and wants to save money by using points and miles, or if you’re a points enthusiast looking to book your first cruise, you may be wondering how to make the most of your rewards. While it may seem like the best option is to book a cruise using points and miles, this may not always be the most advantageous choice. Instead, you can leverage your cruise booking to earn more points and miles, status, or even free onboard perks.

To maximize the rewards from your cruise bookings, it’s recommended to pay with a travel credit card that offers extra points and miles. Most cruise purchases are coded as travel expenses, so using a credit card that earns more than 1% or 1 mile per dollar spent on travel purchases is a good strategy. This way, you can earn rewards that can be used for future trips.

While your basic expenses onboard, such as meals and entertainment, will be covered as part of your cruise booking, there will still be opportunities to spend money on things like drinks, fancy restaurant meals, shore excursions, and spa treatments. By paying for these expenses with a credit card that offers extra incentives for travel purchases, you can earn even more points.

If you’re looking to earn airline or hotel elite status, a large purchase like a cruise booking can help you get closer to that goal. Many cobranded airline or hotel credit cards contribute to your elite-qualifying points, so using them to pay for your cruise can earn you valuable points toward status. For example, American Airlines bases its elite status on AAdvantage Loyalty Points, which can be earned through purchases made with its cobranded credit card. By paying for a $10,000 cruise on the Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, you can earn 10,000 Loyalty Points, a quarter of the points needed for entry-level AAdvantage Gold status.

Similarly, United MileagePlus credit cards allow you to earn Premier qualifying points (PQPs) for every $500 spent, which count toward United Airlines Premier status. Delta’s credit cards also earn Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs) for every dollar spent, which count toward Delta’s Medallion status. On the hotel side, cards like the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card offer points and elite-qualifying nights for travel purchases, including cruises.

If you’re planning a big cruise expense, it’s worth considering applying for a new credit card to earn a welcome bonus. Even if you only earn 1% or 1 mile per dollar spent on travel purchases, the welcome bonus can be substantial and help you meet the minimum spend requirement. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express offers 80,000 points (worth $1,600) after spending $8,000 in eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. By using this card to pay for a high-end cruise, you can earn the welcome bonus with just one purchase.

Booking a cruise with the right credit card can also earn you extra perks or discounts. For example, The Platinum Card from American Express offers additional benefits under the Amex Cruise Privileges Program. This includes up to $300 in cabin credit on select cruise lines, such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. American Express also frequently provides rewarding Amex Offers on cruises, where you can earn bonus points for spending a certain amount on a specific cruise line.

It’s important to note that these offers are targeted and may not be available to every cardholder. You’ll need to enroll in the specific Amex Offer to take advantage of it, and there may be terms and conditions to adhere to. However, taking advantage of these offers can provide significant value in terms of points, which can be used for future travel expenses.

In summary, when it comes to maximizing the rewards from your cruise bookings, it’s often more beneficial to use your cruise as an opportunity to earn points and miles for future trips rather than redeeming points for a free or discounted sailing. By paying with a travel credit card that offers extra incentives for travel purchases, you can earn more rewards. Additionally, using cobranded airline or hotel credit cards can help you earn elite status, and applying for a new credit card can earn you a welcome bonus. Finally, booking through credit card portals or taking advantage of Amex Offers can provide additional perks and discounts for your cruise vacation.

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