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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 sunny Bonaire with points earned from the Citi American Airlines Platinum Select MasterCard and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Cards.
Bonaire is an island deep in the Caribbean just off the shore of Venezuela. Its neighboring islands of Aruba and Curaçao may be more well known, but if you’re like me, you’ve only heard of it thanks to shows on channels like HGTV.
I’ve seen more and more of Bonaire on these shows recently, so when I casually looked into the possibilities of traveling there, I was surprised by what I found and wanted to share just how easy it is to travel there. In fact, using two specific credit cards and their associated welcome bonuses, you too can enjoy a week in Bonaire.
Sound too good to be true? Read more to see just how to make it happen.
The Two Credit Cards
The two credit cards we’re going to focus on for this trip are the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard to cover our flights and the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Card to cover our lodging for the trip.
CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard
after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
$0 for your first year, then $99.
Plus 1 free night award at hotels up to 50,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Annual Fee: $95
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard is a great card to keep in your wallet if you’re a frequent flyer on American Airlines.
On top of a generous welcome bonus, the card contains the following benefits:
- 2X points per $1 spent at restaurants, gas stations, and all eligible American Airlines purchases.
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines flights for you and up to four companions on the same reservation.
- Preferred boarding on American Airlines flights.
- 25% discount on inflight food and beverage purchases when using the card for payment
The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card not only offers a great welcome bonus, but you also get a variety of perks that allow you to continue to earn Marriott points with your ongoing spend. Some of these benefits include:
The card earns the following:
- 6X points per $1 spent at Marriott hotels
- 2X points on all other purchases.
- 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year
- A Free Night Award (up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary
Where to Stay
For our visit to Bonaire, we’re going to be focusing on the Courtyard Bonaire Dive Resort. This resort is a Category 2 Marriott Property, with rooms going for only 12,500 Marriott Rewards points per night.
With award nights at the Courtyard Bonaire Dive Resort going for just 12,500 Marriott Rewards points per night, this welcome bonus would cover a 6-night stay entirely with points.
But, here’s the important thing to remember about Marriott award redemptions – when you book 4 nights, you get a 5th night free. That means those 75,000 points would cover a 7-night stay! So, your one welcome bonus will cover a week-long hotel stay in the Caribbean. Sweet!
For the sample dates we searched for in March 2019, cash rates were about $151/night plus taxes and fees, for a grand total of $1,247.80. Using our 75,000-point welcome bonus, we’re getting about 1.6 cents per point of value which is great for Marriott points.
The Courtyard Bonaire Dive Resort offers a number of amenities geared not only towards beach lovers, but also divers with its on-site dive center and dive boat. It’s located very close to downtown Kralendijk, so shops and restaurants are only a short distance away. And while the hotel is on the waterfront, it is not oceanfront.
The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to the beach which is just a short drive away and has an on-site pool with a beautiful view of the water.
Now that we have a place to stay, let’s figure out how we’re going to get there!
How to Get There
Because Bonaire is both small and somewhat remote (which makes it special!), flight options are limited. American Airlines serves many islands throughout the Caribbean and flies to Bonaire from its Miami hub. This is great news for miles/points travelers because the American Airlines’ AAdvantage program is one of the best frequent flier programs to utilize when flying to the Caribbean.
Almost all of American’s flights to the Caribbean region cost 15,000 AAdvantage miles each way per person when booking Economy MileSAAver flights. This is their lowest redemption level. With 40,000 AAdvantage miles earned from the welcome bonus, and possibly 50,000 if you earn the elevated award, you’re more than covered flying one person to Bonaire, and very close to being able to fly two people roundtrip!
After meeting the initial minimum spend requirement of $2,500 for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, you’ll have earned a welcome bonus of 50,000 AAdvantage miles. With roundtrip Economy MileSAAver award flights costing 30,000 AAdvantage miles, you’ll have 10,000 AAdvantage miles left over for your next trip. This means that you don’t have to spend the extra $6,000 within the first year of opening your account to earn the additional 10,000 AAdvantage mile elevated bonus unless you want to.
In running award searches for Bonaire (BON) in March 2019, which is often peak season throughout the Caribbean, we found a significant amount of Economy MileSAAver flights available. So, you have a wide range of options for planning your trip.
It is important to note that American Airlines only offers flights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to Bonaire, so you’ll need to schedule your trip accordingly.
Welcome Bonus Restrictions
One of the recommended cards for this trip, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, is subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. In short, this rule means that you can’t get approved for a Chase card if you have opened 5 or more personal credit cards with any bank — plus Capital One and Discover business cards — within the prior 24 months.
Along with adhering to 5/24, the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card has some additional restrictions since their merger with SPG. You can’t receive a welcome bonus for this card if any of the following conditions are true:
- You are a current cardholder of the Marriott Rewards Premier or Premier Plus Credit Card from Chase, or you received a welcome bonus on either of these cards in the prior 24 months
- You are a current cardholder of the Starwood Preferred Guest personal credit card from American Express or opened it within the prior 30 days
- You opened a Starwood Preferred Guest personal, Business, or Luxury card with American Express in the prior 90 days
- You received a welcome or upgrade bonus for a Starwood Preferred Guest Business or Luxury credit card from American Express in the prior 24 months
Prior to applying for this card, you’ll want to make sure you meet the restriction criteria to ensure that you can receive the bonus.
Traveling to an exotic location such as Bonaire doesn’t have to be expensive. By strategically using the welcome bonuses from just two credit cards, you’ll be able to fly round-trip and stay for a week of fun in the sun!
New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card to start with.
With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!
Editors Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.