February 21, 2024

How to use credit card points and miles for a Maldives vacation

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not…

How to use credit card points and miles for a Maldives vacation

This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on the page are from our partners like Citi and American Express, but our coverage is always independent. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags onward, more and more travelers are anxious to get back on the road again. We get it — the world has been cooped up for a year, and people are tired. Although things can’t go back to normal just yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning trips to take when the pandemic is over.

While plenty of countries have already opened their borders to tourism, those who are truly trying to social distance should consider the Maldives. It is the ultimate in isolation — most hotels in this tiny nation occupy a single island each, which means your contact with others will be minimal. Add to this the incredible blue lagoons, white-sand beaches, and plethora of options for using credit card rewards for travel, and the Maldives is possibly the best socially distanced vacation you’ll find.

Here’s how you can use points and miles from your travel rewards credit cards to get to — and stay in — the Maldives for a fraction of the usual cost.

We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.

How to use credit card rewards for flights to the Maldives

Prior to COVID-19, there were tons of options for getting to the Maldives using award miles. Some of those options have been temporarily limited, while others have been axed permanently. Don’t fret, because there are still some truly spectacular options for flying to Malé, the capital, in style.

Flights on Star Alliance airlines

Airlines in the Star Alliance currently have the best availability for flights to Malé, with Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, and Air India operating routes to the Maldives. There are a variety of ways to book Star Alliance award flights, but my personal favorite is by using Avianca Lifemiles. Avianca’s frequent flyer program charges 78,000 miles for a one-way business class flight all the way to Malé, or just 42,500 miles for economy class.

Even better, Avianca is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One, and Marriott Bonvoy, so it’s incredibly easy to top up your balance. You can also use miles — at different rates — from Star Alliance partners United MileagePlus, Air Canada Aeroplan, or ANA Mileage Club.

Oneworld alliance flights 

Oneworld airlines also offer decent options for flying to the Maldives, with Qatar Airways operating flights out of its hub, Doha. The American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer program is a great choice for this, with one-way business class flights going for 70,000 miles, and economy for 40,000 miles.

It’s a little trickier to earn American Airlines miles because it’s not a transfer partner of any of the major transferable bank rewards programs, but fortunately American has plenty of co-branded credit cards, like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, that you can use to increase your balance.

You can also book Oneworld alliance flights using Avios points from British Airways Executive Club, which partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy, but be wary of high fuel surcharges. 

Flights on SkyTeam alliance airlines

SkyTeam airlines usually have good award flight availability, but currently, there aren’t many options to the Maldives available for US-based travelers. This doesn’t mean those flights will be canceled forever, but for now, SkyTeam is not a good choice for an award flight to Malé.


Emirates doesn’t belong to a major alliance, but you can still redeem miles from non-alliance partners for a flight in its excellent first class.

One good option is to use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, which allows you to redeem 150,000 miles for a one-way first-class ticket, 82,500 for business class, and 42,500 for economy class. Alaska Airlines doesn’t partner with any of the major bank rewards programs, so many people choose to earn miles directly from the Alaska Airlines Visa® Credit Card or transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy.

You can also book with Emirates’ own miles, using points transferred from American Express, Chase, Citi, Capital One, or Marriott. It’s important to note that Emirates will price your ticket differently if you’re flying one-way or round-trip — a one-way flight from New York in first class will set you back 160,000 miles, while a round-trip will be 255,000 miles. An economy class ticket is much cheaper, ringing in at 73,000 miles one-way or 85,000 miles round-trip. Keep in mind that fares change according to distance, so Los Angeles is a little more expensive than the East Coast. 

Use hotel points and free night certificates in the Maldives

The Maldives is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the world, and while many of them are not part of any hotel chain, tons of them are. Just about every major hotel brand is represented here, so you are absolutely spoiled for choice when booking. Here are some of our favorites:

Hilton Honors 

Hilton Honors points are easy to earn, with several co-branded credit cards to choose from, including the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
, whose annual free night is valid at both of these hotels. 

Otherwise, you can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio. Keep in mind that Hilton offers your fifth night free on award bookings of five nights or more when you have any level of elite status, so it’s worth it to stay at least four nights. All of the Amex Hilton credit cards (Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, Hilton Honors American Express Card, The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card) offer automatic Hilton elite status.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

A truly drool-worthy resort, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island is at the top end of Hilton’s award redemptions. A standard room (beach villa or water villa) here will run you 95,000 points per night, while premium room awards can range exorbitantly higher. 

Conrad Maldives

For 95,000 Hilton points per night, you can book a water villa that normally costs over $1,000.

Hilton Hotels

One very exciting feature of the Conrad is that an overwater villa is considered a standard room, which means you can redeem the same amount of points for a beach villa or one that sits directly over the ocean. There’s nothing quite like stepping off your own deck and sliding right into a glittering blue lagoon.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

Waldorf Astoria Maldives

You’ll enjoy privacy and loads of space in the villas at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, which you can book with Hilton points.

Hilton Hotels

When the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi was opened in 2019, Hilton had to create a whole new award category for its rooms. This is due to the unabashed luxury you’ll find on every corner of the island, including the villas, which start at a massive 2,500 square feet. Reward nights here start at 120,000 points per night.  

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott has excellent representation in the Maldives, with seven different hotels available using points. These range from the high-end St. Regis to the soon-to-open Le Meridien, all of which are extravagant. Marriott offers your fifth night free on award bookings of five nights or more, which can save you a bundle on stays.

If you need to top up your balance, Marriott has several co-branded credit cards. You can also transfer points to Marriott Bonvoy from American Express and Chase. These are our favorite properties: 

St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

St Regis Maldives Garden Villa

You can book a garden villa (with private pool) at the St. Regis Maldives with points.

Marriott Bonvoy

Undoubtedly the jewel of Marriott’s crown, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort’s room rates often hover in the $2,000 range, which means the 85,000 points per night (standard rate) you’ll spend here will be well worth it. The St. Regis also offers options to upgrade from a garden villa to an overwater villa with generous cash rates — we saw them going for as low as $25 per night. 

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort

Westin Maldives Beach Villa Pool

Off-peak dates at the Westin Maldives cost 50,000 points per night.

Marriott Bonvoy

The Westin Maldives Miriandhoo Resort makes our list because of its unique position within Marriott’s portfolio — that is, it’s a Category 7 hotel, which means you can use your annual free night certificate here from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card during off-peak days, which cost 50,000 Marriott points. 

IHG Rewards Club

IHG is one of my favorite hotel chains simply because it’s so widely accessible. While not all of its brands exude high-end luxury, InterContinental hotels are known for their decadence, and the same is true of its Maldives location.

If you’re have the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card or IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card, you’ll enjoy the fourth night free on award stays of four or more nights, while if you’re still holding on to the old IHG Rewards Club Select card (no longer available to new applicants), you’ll receive 10{d54a1665abf9e9c0a672e4d38f9dfbddcef0b06673b320158dd31c640423e2e5} of your points back on redemptions. If you need more points in your account, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card currently offers a substantial welcome bonus of 140,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, or you can transfer points from Chase at a 1:1 ratio.

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort

Award prices at IHG hotels, including the InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort, vary based on season and demand.

InterContinental Hotels

The InterContinental Maldives Maamunagau Resort regularly sells rooms for over a thousand dollars a night, which makes sense considering every one of its villas includes a pool. Unfortunately, rooms on rewards points aren’t cheap, either. We found an overwater villa available for 100,000 points per night, though since IHG eliminated its award chart in 2020 you may find some variation in pricing. 

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

The Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives is a great value with rates as low as 25,000 points per night.

InterContinental Hotels

If you’re looking to save your points, you may instead want to book the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives. Although not quite as luxurious as the InterContinental, we found rates as low as 25,000 points per night, which cements this squarely as the cheapest award option we found in the Maldives. It also makes it eligible for the IHG credit card free night certificate.

World of Hyatt

Although Hyatt is much smaller than the other hotel chains on this list, it still operates a lavish property in the Maldives. Though it’s not cheap, you can earn additional Hyatt points by opening The World Of Hyatt Credit Card
or transferring points from Chase at a 1:1 ratio. 

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Escape to the beach at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa for 30,000 Hyatt points per night.

World of Hyatt

The Park Hyatt brand is renowned for its high-end opulence, and the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa is no exception. Long considered one of the best reward redemptions available, this hotel is a Category 7 and costs 30,000 points per night. 

Bottom line

While it doesn’t look like the COVID-19 pandemic will be ending anytime soon, it’s still possible to combat cabin fever and stay safe by planning a visit to the Maldives, where ultra-isolated resort properties promise pristine beaches and endlessly sunny weather. Just make sure to do it on points. 

Carissa Rawson is a personal finance and credit cards expert who has spent the last five years helping consumers make informed decisions. Before launching a career as a journalist, she spent seven years in the US Air Force as an Arabic translator.