Booking Puerto Vallarta 2.0: $3,000+ Vacation for 131,000 Citi ThankYou Points, Prestige 4th Night Free, & AA Business Extra

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Last February, I spent 3 glorious nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. And next month, I’ll spend another 4 nights there! For $0 out of pocket, I used:

  • 131,088 Citi ThankYou points + 4th night free to save $1,721 on the hotel stay
  • 4,000 American Airlines Business Extra points for $1,423 flights
  • Citi Prestige annual travel credits to cover ~$187 in taxes and fees

The total cost would’ve been $3,331. And I used ALL my Citi ThankYou points.

But after slipping the Citi Prestige card back into my wallet this week, I can build up my balance with new 5X earning on airfare and dining. Plus, they’d been hanging around for a while.

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puerto vallarta points 2019

This time, I saved over $3,000 to go back to Puerto Vallarta for 4 nights 🍹

Here’s how I put it together!

A $3,000+ vacation to Puerto Vallarta for $0

1. Bye bye to all my Citi ThankYou points to stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

I use Citi ThankYou points here and there – mostly transfers to travel partners. In the past, I’ve used them to fly Brussels Airlines Business Class via Etihad miles, and last month, flew to Oklahoma City on American Airlines with Qantas miles.

But those instances are few. Mostly, they sit around, accumulating. And in light of brand new 5X categories of airfare and dining, I felt confident to empty my Citi ThankYou points to save money. Because I know I’ll have more in my account soon enough.

And, I still have plenty of Chase and Amex points.

The 4-night stay would’ve cost ~$1,721

So, I used ~131,000 Citi ThankYou points PLUS the 4th night free perk to completely cover the stay. At first glance, it looks like I got a value of 1 cent per point. But with the 4th night free, that goes up to 1.3 cents each. That’s a lot less than I usually redeem points for – but again, I was happy to part with them.

Getting the 4th night free was a killer deal that saved me ~$430. Using this perk just once nearly covered the card’s entire annual fee for the year.

I paid ~$21 to cover the remainder of the stay – which went on my Citi Prestige to get part of the $250 annual travel credit. And now my Citi ThankYou points balance is 0 for the first time in…. years.

1a. 131,000 Citi ThankYou points or 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points?

You can also book this hotel for 20,000 Hyatt points per night. So I could’ve transferred 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to pay for the stay.

Airfare and dining are huge expenditures for me. And with the new 5X earning rates on Citi Prestige, I can replenish my Citi ThankYou stash easier than my Chase Ultimate Rewards supply. And Chase has better airline partners.

On the surface, it seems obvious to use less points. But when you break it down, it matters a lot how easy those points are to earn.

I’m curious – which choice would you have made? 

2. An unrecognized loyalty program saved me $1,423 on flights

Have you heard of American Airlines’ Business Extra program?

Business Extra has been my ticket to free Admirals Club membership and free flights for years

I’ve been using it for years. And wrote how I use it to get free Admirals Club memberships back in 2014.

It’s a small business program for companies that fly on AA often. You sign up once, then let the points roll in every time you fly AA.

A round-trip coach award flight within North America is 2,000 Business Extra points

Because I had 9,000+ Business Extra points sitting around (they accumulate slowly), I figured it would be OK to redeem them for these expensive flights.

Take a look at the prices:

These 2 nonstop round-trip coach flights would cost $1,423. 😳

I found plenty of nonstops from Dallas to Los Cabos, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta – I thought we could try another Hyatt all-inclusive.

But my friend is flying from Chicago, where the award space was much lower. And when you think about it, Chicago in February to Mexico – makes sense.

#readyforit 🌅

The only way I could line it up with my friend’s schedule was to fly to Puerto Vallarta, which meant staying at the good ol’ Ziva again. And it’ll be nice to return, spend time with a dear friend, and unwind. I can take brand new pics with my fancy new iPhone XS 📱

Anyhoo, I happily spent 4,000 Business Extra points for the flights.

3. Citi Prestige travel credits for remaining taxes and fees

The ~$83 in taxes and fees per ticket went on my Citi Prestige card, which will trigger part of my $250 annual travel credit. Boom.

$0 out of pocket.

Bottom line

There’s stellar value and poor value with my upcoming $3,000+ trip to Puerto Vallarta.

The stellar value came from redeeming 4,000 Business Extra points for nonstop round-trip flights from Dallas and Chicago to Puerto Vallarta currently retailing for $1,423.

The “poor” value came from using ~131,000 Citi ThankYou points and my Citi Prestige card to cover the $1,721 four-night stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta.

And for nagging taxes and fees, I use the Citi Prestige $250 annual travel credit (which just reset). So I didn’t spend a dime on this trip!

I’ve had a weird relationship with Citi ThankYou points. For a while, they were easy for me to earn. So spending them never felt as painful as say, Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

Even now, with 0 points in my account, I feel super zen about it. Because Citi Prestige is back in my wallet after a long absence. And the Chase Sapphire Reserve is out. 😲

I can’t wait to trot that 5X on dining around town.

And come September 2019, when major changes kick in, I’ll evaluate the Citi Prestige card and go from there. Until then, let the Citi ThankYou points flow. 🐛

Which points currency to are you willing to burn the fastest? 

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. How were you able to use the 4th night free benefit, and also pay for it with TY points? I thought you needed to book TYP redemption travel through the TYP website.

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