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The Dominican Republic is a popular tourist destination for U.S. travelers, served by its two largest airports Punta Cana (PUJ) and Santo Domingo (SDQ), with each destination offering something different.
The island reopened for international visitors on July 1. As we previously reported, half of the country’s hotels would reopen in July, with the remaining properties expected to reopen in November.
With dozens of nonstop flights to and from the Dominican Republic and several hotels to spend your points, your next vacation is within reach.
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Getting to the Dominican Republic on points
You have tons of options for getting to Punta Cana or Santo Domingo cheaply, as all three major U.S. airlines fly to the country. Fares start at around $330 for flights out of New York (JFK) or Newark (EWR) but you can find cheaper flights if you’re flying out of a Florida hub like Miami (MIA). JetBlue and Spirit also fly to the Dominican Republic, but you’ll pay to pay to pick your seat and bring a bag if you’re flying on the latter carrier.
You can use British Airways Avios on American Airlines flights if you live in the southeastern part of the U.S. to score a great deal to D.R. A one-way flight to Punta Cana from Miami (MIA) will cost you 9,000 Avios plus $47 for economy and 16,500 Avios for business class.
If you’re short on Avios, Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio, though you’ll also get a 5,000-Avios bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points you transfer.
You can also take advantage of the AAdvantage award chart and snag a MileSAAver off-peak ticket for 12,500 miles each way in economy class if you’re traveling between Sept. 9 – Nov. 18 or Apr. 21 – May 20..
United no longer publishes an award chart, but it’s easy to find cheap tickets to the island. For instance, I’m seeing one-way flights from Newark (EWR) to Punta Cana (PUJ) for just 17,500 miles one-way plus $5.60 in taxes in December.
Delta has pretty cheap flights from its Atlanta hub as well, with nonstop flights to Punta Cana starting at 13,000 SkyMiles one-way or 32,000 miles in first.
Where to stay
There are a plethora of points hotels in the Dominican Republic, including Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and even Choice Hotels. I’ll walk through some of the many hotels on the island so you can get a sense of what’s the best deal for your points. For more about earning hotel points, check out our guide to the best hotel credit cards.
There are a whopping 13 Choice Hotels in the Dominican Republic, including luxury Secrets, Ascend and Breathless properties. Rates start at 10,000 Choice Privileges points per night in November. Choice Privileges is the loyalty program for Choice Hotels. You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to Choice.
Related: Best hotel credit cards
You have a range of options in the Dominican Republic, from Homewood Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo, Hampton by Hilton Santo Domingo Airport, Hilton La Romana, which has separate adult and family-friendly sections.
These properties start at 30,000 points per night in November. Remember, Membership Rewards transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio, though sometimes Amex runs targeted transfer bonuses.
If you’re still short on points, here are some of the best Hilton cards you should consider adding to your wallet (terms apply):
- Hilton Honors Card from American Express: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Earn 125,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months of account opening
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card: Earn 125,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening
- The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card: Earn 150,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening
If you have Hilton Honors elite status – which is included with all of the above cards, you’ll get the fifth night free on award stays of five consecutive nights or longer.
If you have IHG Rewards Club points, your best option is InterContinental HotelsReal Santo Domingo, which starts at 30,000 points a night in November. Otherwise, the Crowne PlazaSanto Domingo and Holiday InnSanto Domingo start at 15,000 and 20,000 points per night, respectively. Keep in mind that IHG Rewards Club Premier cardholders can get a fourth award night free when booking consecutively.
There are two primary ways to earn IHG Rewards Club points through credit cards. Specifically, you can earn using a cobranded IHG card or you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned from a Chase Ultimate Rewards card.
You have seven Marriott Bonvoy hotels to choose from in the Dominican Republic. They range from lower Category 3 hotels like Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village to Category 6 Westin Puntacana Resort & Club. The new Ocean Club Costa Norte, a Category 8 resort, will open in October.
You can transfer both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re still short, there are several solid card choices you may want to consider:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening.
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 75,000 points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months of account opening
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card: Earn 30,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months of account opening
Remember, you’ll get the fifth night free on all award stays.
World of Hyatt
There are five World of Hyatt properties in the Dominican Republic, all of which are resorts. Each resort hovers between 20,000-25,000 Hyatt points a night. The Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana is a family-friendly resort with infinity pools and a dozen restaurants and bars on-site.
Its sister property, the Hyatt Zilara Cap Cana, is adults-only and features over two dozen unique restaurants and bars, including a swim-up bar. Note that both hotels are closed until July 22, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Remember, if you’re low on Hyatt points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. If you’re short on Ultimate Rewards, you can stock up by applying for a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve or Ink Business Preferred Credit Card. Just keep the Chase 5/24 rule in mind.
The information for the Ink Business Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Getting around in the Dominican Republic
Rideshare services like Uber are plentiful in the Dominican Republic, but if you want to take a day trip away from your resort, you’ll likely want to rent a car.
Using points for a rental car
There are two ways you can use your points to rent a car. The first is to pay with a card like the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card and Discover it Miles. These cards allow you to redeem points for any travel purchase, including car rentals.
For example, when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, you can pay with points and still receive primary car rental insurance by paying with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. The Sapphire Preferred allows you to redeem each point at 1.25 cents each, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a higher redemption of 1.5 cents each.
Reserving a rental car through the Ultimate Rewards portal is similar to both flights and hotels.
- From the main landing page, navigate to the ‘cars’ header and type in your itinerary.
- Hit search and the results page will pop up.
- All you need to do is enter your pick up and drop off location, date and time. You’ll then be able to pick your preferred car and sort by how many points you need to redeem.
When you redeem points directly for a rental car, you’re not paying for your rental with your credit card. So you usually won’t be covered by your credit card’s auto rental insurance policy (with the exceptions mentioned above).
If you’re looking for warm weather and great food without wiping out your points balance, the Dominican Republic should be on your list. It’s pretty cheap to fly there on points and miles and you’ll find mid-tier and luxury hotels perfect for solo, group or family travel.
Because you’re saving money by using points, it means you have more cash in your wallet for experiences, such as experiencing the Dominican Republic’s excellent food scene.
Featured photo by Stanley Chen Xi Landscape and Architecture Photographer/Getty Images