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Editors Note: Two Card Trips is a series of articles that show how you could book a trip using points/miles earned from just two different credit cards. Today’s two card trip takes us to the Dominican Republic with points earned from the American Express Gold Card and the IHG Rewards Card
Today, I want to talk about another way to combine just two types of points/miles to make an unforgettable trip a reality.
Santo Domingo is one of the Caribbean’s oldest cities and is a wonderful option for people seeking both relaxing beach time and culture! It’s relatively easy to get to from many destinations in the US and while a passport is required, it doesn’t have to be an expensive trip!
The Two Credit Cards
The two credit cards in question are the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase and the American Express Gold Card, and both have been updated with new features and relaunched.
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card generally offers a welcome bonus of at least 80,000 IHG Rewards points when you hit the minimum spend requirement.
You’ll earn 10X points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, 2X points per dollar spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 1X point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
The card also offers a free night certificate every year on your account anniversary (valid at hotels costing up to 40,000 points per night), automatic IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, and a fourth reward night free when you use points to book a stay of four nights or more.
The American Express Gold Card offers a welcome bonus that is often between 35,000 and 50,000 Membership Rewards points once you hit the minimum spend requirement.
You’ll earn 4X points per dollar spent at US supermarkets and restaurants (including food delivery services), 3X points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with the airline or at amextravel.com, and 1X point per dollar spent everywhere else.
You’ll also receive a $100 annual travel fee credit for an airline of your choice, and $10 per month (up to $120/year) when you use your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.
The card also includes standard American Express benefits like purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, and access to Amex Offers.
Where to Stay
IHG has three properties in Santo Domingo, all of which have fantastic reviews and provide great opportunities to use your IHG Rewards Club points.
The Intercontinental Real Santo Domingo is located at the heart of the city’s business and entertainment district, about 4 miles from the popular Colonial Zone, and features a spa as well as a rooftop infinity pool on the 3rd floor.
It costs 35,000 points per night, so you can book a two-night stay with 70,000 IHG points.
The waterfront Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo has stunning ocean views and is walking distance from the Colonial Zone.
Since it only costs 25,000 points per night, you can book a four-night stay for 75,000 points using the 4th-night free benefit from the IHG Rewards Club Premier card.
The Holiday Inn Santo Domingo is in the same area as the Intercontinental, but at just 20,000 points per night, you can book as many as 5 nights for 80,000 IHG points using the 4th-night free benefit.
If I were going to Santo Domingo on vacation, I’d probably stay at the Crowne Plaza due to its location and oceanfront views. But with three properties at different price points, one of these hotels is sure to fit your plans!
How to Get There
One of the great things about American Express Membership Rewards points is that they can be transferred to 18 different airline mileage programs. This means you have a lot of options and flexibility when planning your travels!
American Airlines flies to Santo Domingo year-round from Miami and Charlotte, and seasonally from Dallas and Philadelphia. If you transfer your Membership Rewards points to British Airways Avios and use them to book American Airlines flights on British Airways website, you’ll use 7,500 Avios each way for flights from Miami or 10,000 Avios each way for flights from Charlotte.
If you live somewhere else and have a connection, this isn’t a great solution, since you get charged separately for each flight in your itinerary – but not all is lost!
You can transfer Amex points to Iberia and use Iberia Avios to book your flight instead. Since Iberia prices partner awards based on the total round-trip distance rather than individual segments, you can often get a better deal than booking with British Airways Avios.
For example, a flight to Santo Domingo from Chicago via Charlotte would cost 23,000 Iberia Avios round trip while the same itinerary booked with British Airways Avios would cost a whopping 35,000 Avios!
JetBlue is also a compelling choice for flights to Santo Domingo, with non-stop flights from Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York (JFK), Newark, Orlando, and San Juan. JetBlue’s award pricing is tied to the cash price of tickets, so the number of points you’ll need varies. Searching for flights in mid-March, for example, flights from Boston cost around 15,000-17,000 points round – trip:
…while flights from Fort Lauderdale could be had for as little as 8,000 points round trip.
These prices (on both American and Jetblue) don’t include checked bag fees, but on JetBlue, you can pay an extra 2,000 points each way to upgrade to a fare that includes checked bags.
Alternately, you can use the $100 airline fee credit from the American Express Gold card to cover checked bag fees – just be sure to log on to the American Express website and select your preferred airline for the fee credit before you leave for your trip!
Regardless of the airline you book with, you’ll need to pay taxes and fees in addition to the miles you use, which can add a hefty $120 round-trip for non-stop itineraries, and a few dollars more for flights with a connection. But, at least you can earn 3X points per dollar spent if you pay these fees with the American Express Gold card!
Welcome Bonus Restrictions
The IHG Rewards Club Premier card is reported to be subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule, which means you won’t be approved for the card if you have 5 or more new credit card accounts listed on your credit report as opened within the past 24 months.
You also can’t currently have the card open or have received a bonus for this card within the past 24 months. This card is considered a separate product from the no-longer-available IHG Rewards Club Select card, so holding or having received a bonus on that card doesn’t prevent you from opening this card as long as you meet the 5/24 requirements.
The American Express Gold card welcome bonus is not available to applicants who currently hold or have previously held an American Express Gold card or an American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.
Santo Domingo is a great destination to visit and with just two types of credit card points, you can visit for four nights and book airfare for two people from a number of US cities. Traveling doesn’t have to be expensive!