Leana and I both enjoy cruising with our families (see reviews of Leana’s recent cruise and my recent cruise). While it is possible to use miles and points to pay for a cruise, it’s not always feasible for every cruise.
So, if you can’t use miles and points to book every cruise, you may as well earn as much miles as possible when booking a cruise. Here are some ways to increase your miles balances when paying for a cruise.
Open a New Credit Card with a High Sign-up Bonus
The easiest way to earn miles for booking a cruise is to pay with a new credit card that has a high sign-up bonus. It’s not uncommon for cards to have sign-up bonuses of 50k-100k miles and points after spending $3000-$4000 in the first three months. See this month’s best credit card offers.
With this option, you can use a travel agent of your choice who gives on-board credit.
If you have an Amex credit card, keep an eye out for Amex offers that award extra points for booking a cruise. Amex currently has an offer for Celebrity cruises that expires on 12/31/19: Get 15,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $500. See this post for more details on this offer as well as offers for other cruise lines.
One of our readers just told me that he got 45,000 points (15k X3) out of this deal. His family purchased a cruise for $1500 through a travel agent. He paid $500 with his Amex, $500 with his wife’s Amex and $500 through an authorized user card. What a great score!
Airline and Bank Cruise Portals
Some of your current credit cards offer bonus points for booking a cruise through their travel or cruise portal. One example is United Cruises. This site has a current special for United MileagePlus card members. You can earn up to 45k miles for booking a cruise through the site:
Discover also regularly offers 5% cashback for cruises booked through them.
Keep in mind that for these deals, you must book through the portal, which acts as your travel agent. You are not booking directly with the cruise line, and you can’t use your regular travel agent. You may be forgoing benefits from your travel agent (like on-board credit).
Gift Cards at Office Supply Stores
If you have a credit card that earns 5X points or cashback at office supply stores (like the old Chase Ink or the current Chase Ink Business Cash), you can buy gift cards at office supply stores to earn miles from your cruise payments. Staples frequently has deals for no-fee Mastercard gift cards that you can use to pay down your cruise.
If you’re going on a Disney Cruise, most office supply stores carry Disney gift cards with no fees.
What About Cruise Company Credit Cards?
Many cruise lines have their own credit cards. However, they rarely have sign-up bonuses worth anything. Usually, you can get a higher-value bonus from a number of other credit cards.
Don’t Settle for 1X Points
If the above methods are too much work, just be sure you’re earning more than 1X points on your cruise payments. Using a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve will earn you 3X points on travel expenses, and many other cards (like the Capital One Venture Rewards card) will net you 2X points.
Cruisers, what card do you use to book your cruises? Have you ever scored a great deal through a portal?
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.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.