Hey Travel Junkies,

Some bucket-list destinations are easier to get to than others. There are some pretty unique places that require a lot of money or points to get to. Fortunately for you, there is one spot you can get to with points and miles that won’t take as many points as you might think: The Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos offer sights that you won’t see anywhere else on Planet Earth. Spreading across the equator, these islands offer dramatic volcanoes for hiking, hammerhead sharks for adventurous diving or blue-footed boobies for the birdwatching extraordinaire.

When traveling to the Galapagos, you have a choice to make about your accommodations. Those who get sea-sickness will opt to stay on-land. If you want to see as much as possible, you can opt for a liveaboard boat. Liveaboards are popular with divers, but there are options for non-divers as well if you want to see some of the more remote islands.

The best part of this 2-card trip?

You won’t be tied to a hotel since you can use your points to stay on a liveaboard if you want. Bet you hadn’t thought about this before!

Let’s take a look at how you can make your getaway to the Galapagos a reality with just two new credit cards.

credit cards to use to go to Galapagos

The Two Credit Cards

The two cards we are going to be using for your trip to the Galapagos come from Barclays and Capital One. For your flights, you’ll want to grab the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard. For your stay – whether on land or on sea – you’ll want to pick up the Capital One Venture card.

There are some unique features about these cards that I love, especially for this trip.

First, the minimum spend requirement for these cards is low.

The Aviator Red Card earns the bonus after you simply make a purchase and pay the annual fee. That’s it. After making a purchase and paying the annual fee, you’ll get 60,000 AAdvantage miles.

In addition to the bonus, you’ll get some great benefits. The AAviator Red card comes with the following valuable perks:

  • 25% off inflight food and beverages
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

60,000 AAdvantage miles after first purchase

Learn more by visiting our
credit cards page.

For the Capital One Venture card, you’ll earn 50,000 Capital One miles after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months. With the Venture, you earn 2X points for every dollar spent, so you’ll actually end up with 56,000 Capital One miles to use for your Galapagos trip.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Learn more
Cerro Brujo Beach at San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
Cerro Brujo Beach at San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

How to Get There

To get to the Galapagos, you’ll first need to fly to either Peru or Ecuador, and then you’ll make your way to the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos are part of Ecuador, which falls into a sweet spot for the American Airlines AAdvantage program. Flights to or from the South America 1 region cost only 20,000 miles in economy and 30,000 miles in business class.

What really makes this an even better deal is if you spend the 10,000 extra miles for business class as American operates flights with lie-flat seats on many routes between the US and Peru and Ecuador. Although the flights only run about 6 hours, this is just a few more miles for a lot of extra comfort that I would encourage you to take if you find the award availability.

How to Get to Galapagos

LATAM operates flights to the Galapagos out of Quito, Ecuador (UIO) and Lima, Peru (LIM). American offers a few daily flights to Lima from Dallas (DFW) and Miami (MIA). When it comes to finding award space, it’s always nice to have more options especially since LATAM space can be hard to find.

Unfortunately, American still doesn’t show award availability for LATAM on its website. This means to book your flights, you’ll need to find award availability by searching on British Airways or Qantas, and then call American to book your flights.

AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard

60,000 AAdvantage miles after first purchase

Learn more by visiting our
credit cards page.

Where to Stay & What to Do

The Galapagos are different from other places we typically discuss because there aren’t chain hotels in the islands. While it means you won’t enjoy any perks from hotel elite status, it does mean you can stay in some unique places.

The Capital One miles you earn with the Venture card are worth 1 cent each when redeemed for travel for cash travel purchases. One of my favorite ways to use them is for Airbnb stays. Airbnb codes as travel for the Venture, so you can book a stay, pay with the Venture card and redeem points to erase the purchase.

Capital One miles to stay at an Airbnb such as this in the Galapagos
Use your Capital One miles to stay at an Airbnb such as this in the Galapagos (image courtesy of Airbnb)

 

Many Airbnb locations are pretty cheap — we’re talking less than $50 per night. Unless you’re staying 2 weeks or more, you will likely have some Capital One miles remaining. The Galapagos is a place for adventure, and if you have leftover miles, you can even use them to book some activities.

Book your Galapagos Excursions and Cover the Cost with your Capital One miles
Book your Galapagos Excursions and Cover the Cost with your Capital One miles

 

You can use the remainder of your Capital One miles to book some excursions or to book a liveaboard if you prefer. Online travel agencies such as Priceline and Expedia both code as travel for the Venture card so it’s easy to offset bookings with those sites. Many activities and even some liveaboards are available to book through these online travel agencies. This means you can book things to do and then erase the charges using the remainder of your Capital One miles.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

Learn more

Final Thoughts

There aren’t many 2-card combos that will cover your flights in business class to another continent, your accommodations, and activities too. With the Capital One Venture card and Barclays Aviator Red Card, you can cover almost every aspect of your trip. Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying your time with the turtles and wildlife knowing that you paid next to nothing for an amazing experience!

Chase Sapphire Preferred

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 and 2x points on dining and travel, this card truly cannot be beat! 

Learn more


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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. You can read our advertiser disclosure here.


Travis Cormier

About the Author

Travis became addicted to travel after his first international trip to Nicaragua in 2016. He wanted to travel more but didn’t want to pay for it. He found points and miles, and hasn’t paid cash for a trip since. A self-proclaimed adventurer and beach-bum, Travis is often found at remote island destinations and beaches with scuba gear in tow. If you don’t spot him on a beach, look for somewhere with good wine or a...

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2 Responses to “Two-Card Trip to the Galapagos”


Mary Lane

We have been to the Galapagos and spent 8 days on the Yacht Angelito. It held 16 people and was wonderful – nice staterooms, great food, and a very competent and knowledgeable naturalist. We did several excursions on a wide variety of islands everyday, an experience you can’t get by staying on one of the islands. We highly recommend going to the Galapagos. It is an experience you can’t duplicate anywhere else. Getting so close to so many types of wildlife is exciting and interesting.

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