In This Article
Learn the best options to get to Cancun and where to stay with points and miles, and how to earn them. Discover our shortlist of some of the many things to see, to do and explore in Cancun for your next weekend trip.
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Cancun, Mexico is within easy reach of most of the United States and there are lots of nonstop flights from many U.S. airports. This fun tropical destination is just a short plane ride away, making it perfect for a weekend getaway! In just a few hours you’ll be transported to a tropical paradise with stunning white sand beaches, warm waters of the Caribbean, clear blue cenotes and amazing Myan ruins. And let’s not forget about the food!
There are a few ways to enjoy Cancun. It’s a perfect destination for an active traveler who likes to get out and explore or, if relaxing on the beach with a tropical cocktail in hand is more up your alley, you’ll have dozens of beautiful resorts to choose from. And the best part? Cancun is in the Eastern Standard Time zone, so there’s no jet lag!
How to Get to Cancun with Points and Miles
Almost all U.S. airlines have nonstop flights to Cancun from many airports, including smaller secondary airports all across the U.S. You can definitely get there with one connection from just about anywhere in the country.
There are also lots of good options to get to Cancun using miles from pretty much any airline or transferable points such as Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points. If you have Ultimate Rewards points and the cash fares are low, you can use the Chase travel portal to book your tickets. But let’s look at a couple of ways to get to Cancun with airline points and miles.
You might be thinking, why would I book a flight using British Airways points to fly from the U.S. to Mexico? This is where knowing a little bit about the airline alliances comes in handy.
British Airways has very advantageous award pricing for nonstop flights, including flights in North America. British Airways doesn’t operate its own flights between the U.S. and Cancun, but because British Airways and American Airlines are both partners of Oneworld alliance, you can use British Airways Avios to book American Airlines operated flights.
British Airways has a distance-based award chart and charges by segment, so only use BA Avios if you can find a nonstop flight from your preferred airport to Cancun. So, for example, you’ll need just 9,000 points to fly from Dallas (DFW) to Cancun (CUN). You’ll pay a little more or a little less for flights from other AA hubs, depending how far you are flying.
You’ll need to create an account to search for award flights on British Airways. After you log in, click on “Book”, then “Book with Avios.” After you enter your dates, departure and destination airports and run the search, you’ll be able to select your flights on the next screen.
Then scroll all the way down to see a price in Avios.
British Airways is a transfer partner of American Express, Chase and Marriott, so it’s easy to earn enough British Airways Avios to fly the whole family to Cancun.
American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to British Airways Avios 1:1 and the transfer is instant. Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to British Airways at a 3:1 rate and you’ll get 5,000 bonus of British Airways Avios when you transfer 60,000 Bonvoy points to British Airways. Typically you’ll want to stick with transferring Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards flights so you can put those Bonvoy points to use towards your hotel in Cancun.
It’s very easy to search for award space on American Airlines because you don’t even need to create an account. Just plug in your dates (make sure “Redeem miles” is checked) and click Search.
American Airlines have recently moved to dynamic pricing, but the lowest award should still be 15,000 miles
The holders of the famous Southwest Companion Pass can get two tickets for the price of one, but even if you don’t have a companion pass, you can still score a great deal to Cancun.
Southwest doesn’t have an award chart, and the price in points is tied to a cash price. If you come across a great fare sale, you can find an award ticket to this tropical paradise for just a couple thousand points!
You don’t need an account to search for award space on Southwest. Just enter your dates and your airports, click on “Points” on the upper right and click Search.
You’ll see the results on the next page.
Where to Stay in Cancun with Points and Miles
There are dozens of different hotels in Cancun and there’s something for every budget and every taste. If you prefer an all-inclusive resort, where once you check in you can leave your wallet and your worries in the room for the duration of your stay, there are a couple of resorts bookable with hotel points and countless non-chain all-inclusive resorts all the way up and down the coast.
Hyatt Ziva and Zilara Cancun
These two Hyatt sister properties both cost 25,000 World of Hyatt points a night for two guests. Ziva is a family-friendly property and Zilara is an adults only resort. Both get five star reviews and have a very loyal clientele. Guests rave about the beautiful pools, the great food and the amazing beaches at both properties.
Each additional guest can be booked for 12,500 points.
Chase Travel Portal
Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed through the Chase travel portal at 1.25 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and 1.5 cents each if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Why would you want to use the portal rather than transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Chase’s travel partner Hyatt? The short answer is price.
All all-inclusive resorts charge per person, not per room, and the standard price is per two people in the room. So if you are traveling as a family, or are coming with a group of friends, check the rate for two people per room, as well as for the entire party. Sometimes it might make sense to book two rooms rather than cram everyone together in the same room.
Another reason to stay at a non-chain hotel is choice. There are dozens of fantastic resorts in the Cancun area that cater to different interests, at all price points, both all-inclusive and regular resorts. Find one that fits your interests and your points budget and it might be a much better value than one of the points hotels.
Keep in mind that if you book one of the chain hotels through the portal you won’t get any status perks and the stay will not count toward elite qualifying nights. Don’t let this scare you, though. If you aren’t chasing status, then it shouldn’t make a difference anyway.
Marriott has a couple of properties in the Cancun area, ranging from the luxurious Ritz-Carlton Cancun and JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa to the more basic Aloft Cancun.
Marriott has peak, off-peak and standard rates.
If you’ve recently opened a new Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card from Chase and earned five 50,000 points certificates, you can book Ritz-Carlton Cancun and JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa at standard rates for 50,000 points a night.
Another beautiful ocean-front option is Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s a category 5 property, so if you have the 35,000 annual free night certificates that come with the Marriott Boundless card from Chase or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, they can be used to book nights up to the standard rate.
If you are using points, keep in mind that when you book four nights, you’ll get the fifth night free. This is a great deal and it is definitely worth extending your long weekend by another day.
Keep in mind that Marriott charges resort fees on award and free night stays.
Things to Do in Cancun
Oh, where do we start – there are so many fun things to do in Cancun and the surrounding area! And, if you are just craving relaxation, there is of course an option of doing nothing much at all. You can spend your time on the beach, swim, do some watersports or visit the resort’s spa. But if you’d like to venture a bit further afield, here are a couple of suggestions.
The Yucatan Peninsula has at least 6,000 cenotes, and quite a few of those are just a short drive from Cancun. Cenotes are basically natural sinkholes that were created from the collapse of limestone bedrock and filled with groundwater.
That’s the technical definition, but in reality, cenotes are beautiful sparkling blue mother nature created swimming pools filled with cool freshwater and surrounded by otherworldly landscapes where you can snorkel, scuba dive or just float around.
If you aren’t renting a car, you’ll need to book a tour to get you to one, or a few, of these natural wonders of the Yucatan peninsula.
Visit the Mayan Ruins
Cancun is surrounded by captivating ancient cities built many centuries ago by the Mayan civilization. The most famous ancient site in the area is Chichen Itza, easily accessible on a day trip. If you want to venture further into the jungle, Ek Balam is about two hours west of Cancun where you can explore the ancient Mayan culture without the crowds of Chichen Itza.
Some tours even combine a visit to the ruins with a visit to the cenotes.
Sail to Isla Mujeres
You can take a ferry for a day trip to the beautiful Isla Mujeres, but better yet, book a catamaran cruise and sail to this quaint little island to enjoy some snorkeling, fun restaurants and beautiful beaches. You can also visit Garrafon National Reef Park and Tortugranja turtle conservation center.
A Day Trip to Tulum
Tulum has a totally different vibe than Cancun. A formerly sleepy beach town that used to have a distinctly hippie vibe, is turning into a more mainstream destination. It’s still not as commercialized or mainstream as Cancun and it has kept its bohemian vibe.
Tulum’s white sand beaches are legendary and you can see more of the Yucatan’s Mayan ruins. It might be a good idea to combine a day trip to Tulum with a visit to many nearby cenotes.
How to Earn Points and Miles for Your Weekend Trip to Cancun
Chase Ultimate Rewards is one of our favorite transferable currencies. You can book your Cancun flights and hotels through the portal or transfer the points to a number of airlines, including British Airways and Southwest. Hyatt is also a transfer partner of Chase, so if you’ve got a good stash of Ultimate Rewards, you can easily book Cancun Hyatt Ziva or Zilara.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card comes with a generous welcome bonus and good earning categories. The Chase Ink Preferred card is an excellent choice for a small business owner and will help you earn enough Ultimate Rewards points for a great weekend trip to Cancun.
If you need American Airlines miles, then consider the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard.
Marriott has a few cards that come with 15 elite night credits and annual free nights that will help you earn a free stay at one of the beautiful Marriott properties in the Zona Hotelera. There’s the premium Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, or the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card from Chase. Both cards come with generous welcome bonuses and other perks.
If you are under Chase’s 5/24 rule, then consider applying for the Chase card first.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
after $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
$0 for your first year, then $99.
Mexico, and especially Cancun, is such an easy place to visit even if you only have a few days. And there are so many things to see and do that even if you’ve already been to Cancun there’s still lots of new things to discover.
New to the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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!
Cards in This Article
Five Free Nights
Valued up to 50,000 points each after spending $5,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.
Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points
after you spend $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months.
Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points
after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening
after $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.
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.