I had the great opportunity of going to Montego Bay Jamaica and splitting a week between two all inclusive resorts, both on award points.  After writing individual reviews, I had friends asking…“how can I do that?”  If you’re interested in staying somewhere like this for free, here’s how you can do it too!

Holiday Inn  Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica (all inclusive)  3 star

Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica

This is what I did.

2 free night certificates from having the IHG credit cards.  

If you open a Chase IHG credit card, you will receive a bonus of 60,000 IHG points after spending $1000 in 3 months. 

At your yearly anniversary each year thereafter, you will receive a free night certificate upon paying the annual fee of $49.00.  

Double the fun and have your spouse apply for their own card too!

After your first year, you will each have a free night certificate in your account to use at any IHG property worldwide plus over 60,000 IHG points each!  For maximum value, use the free night certificates at a property with a high nightly cash price.  We used ours this year at The Holiday Inn Montego Bay, All Inclusive.  If you are a family with 2 small children, this is great because all 4 of you get to stay and eat for free for 2 nights.

1 night for 35,000 IHG points + $35.20 cash. You each have over 60,000 IHG points now in your account from opening your credit cards and meeting the minimum spend.  You can use 40,000 points per night or “points and cash” which is 35,000 points plus $35.20 per night (as I did) to add extra nights.  

1 night for 28,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points, via the travel portal.  If you have a Chase credit card that earns Ultimate Rewards points such as the Chase Ink or Sapphire, don’t forget to check the price of your hotel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal.  

When you login to your Chase credit card account, click on Ultimate Rewards and you’ll be taken to a separate website.  Go to Use Points and click on Explore and Book Travel.

 Search for your hotel and you’ll be given the price per night in cash or Ultimate Rewards points.

 I found the Holiday Inn was actually cheaper to book with Ultimate Rewards points than with IHG points for the night I was looking for.  

If you are looking for other destinations, Holiday Inn has all inclusive resorts in  Los Cabos and Ixtapa Mexico and Montego Bay Jamaica.

Total cost: $35.20 for 4 nights at the Holiday Inn All inclusive Resort.

 

Hyatt Zilara, Montego Bay, Jamaica (adult only, all inclusive resort) 5 star

Hyatt Zilara, Montego Bay, Jamaica

Hyatt Zilara, Montego Bay, Jamaica

2 free nights from opening the Chase Hyatt credit card.  

When you first open a Chase Hyatt credit card and meet the minimum spend ($2000 in three months), you will receive two free nights to use at any Hyatt property worldwide.   If this is too much spending for you both to manage at once, you can apply for yours now and have your spouse apply for their card after you’re done meeting the minimum spend on your card.  

Again, the best use of this is to maximize value and use them at the high cost hotels.  If both you and your spouse open cards, you’ll have a total of four free nights to use.  Using them at an all inclusive resort means you get a $0 cost stay.  Great Value!  You have to use the free nights within a year of receiving them, so don’t open the Hyatt cards until you know for sure that you’ll be able to utilize the free nights.  

You only get the 2 free nights one time – after opening the card.  On your yearly anniversary thereafter, you will receive a free night (after paying the annual fee of $75.00) but those nights are only good at category 1-4 hotels.  The all inclusive properties fall into category 6.  My husband had 2 free nights so we used those.  I did not have any because I messed up and didn’t complete the minimum spend in time.  Lesson learned!!!

1 night on points – 25,000 Hyatt points.  When you first open the Chase Hyatt credit card you DO NOT receive a bonus of any points.  You only get 2 free nights.  They post to your account shortly after you meet the minimum spend (make sure you meet it in time!)  

If you don’t already have Hyatt points from some other way (like staying at Hyatt’s) but you have Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase cards mentioned above, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt points and book more nights on points.  Again, check the Chase travel portal to see how their rates compare.  To transfer to Hyatt from Ultimate Rewards, Click on Use Points and then click Transfer to Travel Partners.  You’ll see a list of partners, both airlines and hotels, that Ultimate Rewards points transfer to.  Normally the transfer happens instantly.  Of course, you must have an account set up with your transfer partner to do this.  If you do not, it’s free to do.  Go to the partner website and sign up.  

There are Hyatt all inclusives in Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Peurto Vallarta and Montego Bay.  

Total cost:  $0 for 3 nights.

You have to wait a year after applying for the IHG credit card to receive the IHG free nights.  

The Hyatt free nights are received immediately after meeting the minimum spend.  

You only have a year to use either of them from the time they post to your account.   

 

To recap:

IHG (Holiday Inns, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental, Candlewood Suites, Staybridge Suites, Kimpton, Even, and Hualuxe)

  • Apply.  The annual fee is waived the first year 
  • Meet minimum spend, currently $1000 in 3 months
  • Get 60,000 + IHG points
  • After your 1 year anniversary and paying the $49.00 annual fee, you’ll get a free night to use at any IHG property worldwide.  These must be used within a year and cannot be rolled over to the next year.  You’ll get one free night each year as long as you keep the credit card
  • Combine your free night with your spouses free night for a 2 night stay at any IHG property worldwide each year!  You’ll have to make two seperate reservations.  Normally you don’t have to change rooms
  • Use either IHG points or Ultimate Reward points transferred to IHG to add more nights
  • By using your new IHG credit card you will receive 5 IHG points per dollar spent at IHG hotels, 2 IHG points per dollar spent on groceries, gas and dining and 1 IHG point per dollar spent on everything else.  Points can add up fast!

Hyatt (Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Andaz, Ziva/Zilara, and coming soon Miraval)

  • Apply.  Pay the $75 annual fee (not waived the first year)
  • Meet minimum spend, currently $2000 in 3 months
  • Get 2 free night certificates to use at any Hyatt property worldwide.  Must use within one year
  • Combine you and your spouses certificates for a 4 night stay at any Hyatt property worldwide (year one only).  You’ll have to make two reservations.  Normally you won’t have to change rooms
  • Add an authorized user and have them make a purchase within the first three months and get an extra 5000 Hyatt points
  • After your 1 year anniversary and paying the $75.00 annual fee you will  earn 1 free night to use at any category 1-4 Hyatt property worldwide.  You’ll get a free night each year that you keep the credit card. You must use them within a year.  They do not rollover to the next year.
  • Use either Hyatt points or Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Hyatt to add more nights 
  • By using your new Hyatt credit card, you will receive 3 Hyatt points per dollar spent at Hyatt hotels, 2 Hyatt points per dollar spent on restaurants and airline or car rentals booked directly with the airlines/rental agencies, and 1 Hyatt point per dollar on everything else

My opinion:  If you’re looking for a great all inclusive for a relaxing or romantic trip in Montego Bay Jamaica, skip the Holiday Inn and focus on the Hyatt.  If you and your significant other both sign up for the Hyatt credit cards and meet the minimum spends, you can enjoy 4 free nights at this all inclusive hotel on the beach in Jamaica during the year that you open the cards.  

As for the Holiday Inn, well….it costs more points per night than the Hyatt and everything about it was sub par to the Hyatt.  In other words, don’t waste your points….go to the Hyatt Zilara/Ziva instead for maximum points value at an all inclusive resort in Montego Bay!  

 

Warning:  

These are both Chase credit cards.  You may not be approved for both of them on the same day, although you can certainly apply for them online on the same day.  Sometimes it requires a reconsideration phone call.  This is not a big deal and I have been approved for the second card during a quick phone call asking a few extra questions.  

Chase also imposes a 5/24 rule.  What this means is that once you apply for 5 credit cards (any cards – Amex, Bank of America, Citi, Discover etc) within 24 months, Chase will no longer approve new card applications.  This is important if you are planning on getting certain Chase cards down the road.  Recently there was a huge 100,000 point bonus for new Sapphire Preferred and Ink Preferred cards.  I could not get it because I had more than 5 new cards opened in the last 24 months.  In other words, choose your cards carefully.  Get the ones that will do you the most good first.