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How to Travel to New York City on Points and Miles

The Big Apple and Gotham are not the only nicknames New York is known by. It’s also the City That Never Sleeps, the Melting Pot and even the Center of the Universe. No one who has visited New York will ever wonder if it deserves all that affection. New York is old and modern, huge and cozy, and always fascinating. Anyone who visits New York will find something to marvel at, whether they come from a small town or another megalopolis.

Do you want to know how to travel to New York on points and miles? Read on.

Getting to New York City

Nearest airports

New York City is served by three major airports. Since most New York visitors stay in the borough of Manhattan, we’ll share the distances from the airports to Times Square.

  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), 17 miles away.

  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA), 10 miles away.

  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), 18 miles away.

While LaGuardia is the closest airport to Manhattan, you still have to make your way through New York traffic. In this case, the closest doesn’t necessarily mean the fastest.

Though the subway isn’t a direct option for traveling into the city, if you land at JFK or LGA, you can then transfer to public transportation. (EWR is located in Newark, New Jersey, and isn’t serviced by the subway system.) From JFK, take the AirTrain to Jamaica Station. From LGA, you’ll need to take one of the city buses depending on your arrival terminal and the part of the city you’re heading to.

Major airlines flying to New York

All major U.S. airlines fly to New York, and there are many other domestic airlines flying to one or more New York airports. Here are the airlines with hubs in New York.

  • American Airlines: JFK and LGA.

  • Delta Air Lines: JFK and LGA.

Of course, these four airlines aren’t the only ones flying into New York-area airports.

Best points and miles for cheap flights to New York City

Are you looking for cheap and simple ways to get to New York City using points and miles? Good news: You have abundant choices for flights.

Nerdy tip: Three major airlines — United, Delta and American — fly to all New York airports. If you don’t care where you land, then price all of them for JFK, LGA and EWR. Keep in mind that getting to the city from EWR will cost you more due to the tolls along the way.

Many major airlines have either ditched or supplemented their award charts with dynamic pricing, so planning your New York City trip with points and miles might not be as straightforward as before. However, it’s not always a bad thing.

For example, before switching to dynamic prices, the cost of a domestic one-way trip with some major U.S. airline programs was 12,500 miles. It was very predictable and sometimes quite expensive. Nowadays, it might cost more or the same as before, but it can also cost much less. Here’s a closer look.

American Airlines

You can fly a long, transcontinental flight to New York from Los Angeles on American Airlines for 10,000 AAdvantage miles.

United Airlines

Check out how much the same transcontinental flight would cost you in United MileagePlus miles.

United flights for this pair of destinations can be redeemed from 12,500 miles to 18,000 miles.

Delta Air Lines

And here are results from Delta.

This price, 7,500 miles, is simply amazing. But if you click on the date, you’ll see that that price point will buy you a basic economy seat. If you don’t want to wait until your seat is assigned to you at the airport, you’ll have to pay 10,500 miles to book into the main cabin.

So if you’re intent on using miles and points to book an affordable New York City trip, it won’t hurt to have points from different frequent flyer programs.

other airlines

Here are other airline programs you can use to fly to New York:

Hotels to book with points in New York City

You don’t have to stay in Manhattan in order to explore the city. In fact, you might find cheaper accommodations in New Jersey or other New York boroughs, like Brooklyn or Queens. Many visitors choose to stay in Manhattan so we’ll focus our hotel searches there.

Hilton

There are currently over 40 Hilton hotels in Manhattan. A few of them might be unavailable for your dates, but still, it’s a staggering number. Which hotel to choose? It depends on what your interests are. Most Hilton hotels are concentrated between Chelsea and Central Park, and only six are in lower Manhattan.

Cost to book in points

Hilton doesn’t have an award chart anymore, and the cost of an award night at the same hotel on different nights may vary considerably. You can use the Hilton Points Explorer tool to find your price ranges.

Some lower ranges might seem attractive, but finding them can prove challenging in competitive markets, even in a slow season. You can use the Explorer tool for the early planning stages, but for research and eventual booking, go to the Hilton Honors website.

Our budget Hilton hotel pick: Millennium Times Square New York

We’ve found a 44,000-point rate in October, which is offseason, but not a bad time to visit New York. Plus, the location couldn’t be better if you want to be in the middle of everything. The cash rate for this hotel on the same dates is $199 plus roughly $62 in fees and taxes ($261 total).

However, you can avoid taxes and fees by booking with points. NerdWallet values Hilton points at 0.4 cent each, and this deal is even better coming at 0.6 cent in value for your Hilton points.

When you want to splurge: Conrad New York Midtown

You’d be hard-pressed to find a room in the Conrad for less than 95,000 points a night (what it costs in October), but you would be getting a one-bedroom suite in a privileged location between Times Square and Central Park. It could be a very good use of your points because the cash rates for these rooms are so high.

Remember these tips when booking with Hilton:

  • Hilton doesn’t add resort fees to award bookings.

  • Elite members starting with Gold get free breakfast and room upgrades when available.

  • Gold elite status is easy to get via the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card. Terms apply.

How to earn Hilton Honors points

There are two Hilton credit cards that can help in addition to the no-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card.

  • Sizable welcome offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • Complimentary Gold status.

  • Free weekend night reward after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year.

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status after spending $40,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year.

  • Sizable welcome offer: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status.

  • One free weekend night reward with your new card and every year after renewal.

  • One additional night after spending $60,000 on purchases in a calendar year.

  • $250 Hilton resort statement credit.

If you want Gold status, but not a Hilton credit card, consider The Platinum Card® from American Express, which also comes with automatic Hilton Gold status. Plus, the card is currently offering this welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Those points can typically be transferred to the Hilton Honors program at a 1:2 ratio, which means 1 American Express point can be turned into 2 Hilton points.

Marriott

There are well over 50 Marriott hotels in Manhattan; most are located in midtown.

Cost to book in points

Our budget Marriott hotel pick: Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan SoHo Village

We’ve found a 40,000-point redemption rate in October. The price of the room for the same date, including taxes, is $275. This rate buys you a top-floor suite at a nice hotel between SoHo and Greenwich Village. While this rate comes in under our valuation for Marriott points (0.9 cent each), sometimes the right award booking is about more than just the math. Consider location and what your other, more pricier options are, especially in an expensive city like New York.

Also, if you stay five nights, you will pay only for four — 160,000 points. That’s like having a 20% discount. Basically you’ll end up paying 32,000 points per night, which makes it an even better deal.

When you want to splurge: The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park

The cost of a room at this iconic Manhattan hotel is a whopping 100,000 points a night, but considering the $975 cash price, this might feel like a bargain — especially if you stay five nights for the price of four.

Remember these tips when booking with Marriott:

  • If there are resort fees, Marriott typically does not waive them on award stays.

  • All members get the fifth night free on award stays.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

  • Welcome offer: Limited Time Offer! Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year toward status.

  • Free Night Award every year after your account anniversary up to 35,000 points.

  • Welcome offer: Earn 125,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Offer Expires 5/12/2021. Terms Apply.

  • $300 Marriott Bonvoy statement credit.

  • Complimentary anniversary night up to 50,000 points.

  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy property credit for a two-night minimum stay at The Ritz-Carlton or the St. Regis.

If you want Gold status, but not a Marriott Bonvoy card, The Platinum Card® from American Express also offers Marriott Gold status. Points can be transferred to the Marriott Bonvoy program at a 1:1 ratio. Terms Apply.

Hyatt

There are almost 20 Hyatt hotels from lower to midtown Manhattan.

Cost to book in points

Hyatt has a comprehensive award chart covering not only basic rooms, but also upgraded options.

Our budget Hyatt hotel pick: Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel

Gild Hall, a Thompson Hotel is a luxury lower Manhattan hotel with a European feel, just a few minutes away from Battery Park, One World Trade Center and the Seaport District. A standard room costs 15,000 points or $224. NerdWallet values Hyatt points at 2 cents per point, but when you add the taxes and fees (that you won’t pay on the points redemption), the cost jumps to $283.

When you want to splurge: Park Hyatt New York

Park Hyatt is a celebrated five-star hotel located one block away from Central Park. Your 30,000 points can buy you a room that would otherwise cost $995 in October. That’s over 1.5 times NerdWallet’s valuation, and an excellent deal when you feel like only the best hotel is good enough.

Even better: Hyatt waives resort fees on award stays.

How to earn Hyatt points

  • Welcome offer: Earn 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Plus, up to 30,000 More Bonus Points by earning 2 Bonus Points total per $1 spent in the first 6 months from account opening on purchases that normally earn 1 Bonus Point, on up to $15,000 spent.

  • One free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary.

  • Extra free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel or resort if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.

Transferring points from the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program at a 1:1 ratio via the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® is also an excellent way to boost your Hyatt points balance.

Of course, there are hundreds of hotels in New York City, and these three chains don’t cover everything. You will also find IHG, Wyndham and Radisson hotels in the city. Alternatively, you might use your Chase Ultimate Rewards® or AmEx Membership Rewards to book New York hotels through their travel portals if the points price is favorable.

The bottom line

The best answer on how to get to New York City with points and miles in 2021 is to make sure you carefully compare redemption values from different airlines and hotel chains, provided that you have currencies from more than one loyalty program. Bookmark this points and miles guide to New York City to make your next award travel even easier to plan.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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