Edited by: Stella Shon
& Keri Stooksbury
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You probably think of points and miles as a great way to book a flight or hotel room without spending a lot of money. While those are great ways to use your points, you can also book other types of travel, like a cruise, with points.
A cruise might not be something you think you can book with points or miles, but it can be done! In this post, we’ll walk you through all of the ways you can use your points and miles to book the cruise vacation of your dreams.
While there are no programs that offer a cruise line as a transfer partner, you can still use your points to book a cruise. The key is knowing which type of points you need and how to use them wisely.
As always, we’ve got you covered here at Upgraded Points — this guide will give you all the tools you need to book your next cruise with points.
You can also use Membership Rewards points through Amex Travel, a travel portal that acts like an online travel agency. The downside is that you’ll get less value for your points when you use them this way. Booking through Amex Travel will give you 0.7 cents in value, while transferring your points to hotel or airline partners often gives you 2, 3, or more cents per point in value.
If you’re also interested in flights and hotels, your best bet will be to transfer your points. However, if a cruise is what you’re after, the lower value might be worth it if you’re getting to book the vacation of your dreams.
There are lots of great cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points — here are some of our favorites:
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.
This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.
With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.
There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.
If you’re a business owner, see our article on the best American Express business credit cards.
As an American Express cardholder, you’re also eligible for some extra perks when you book a cruise.
When you search for a cruise, keep an eye out for the Special Offers tab that will be next to your search results. This tab will list the current deals offered to Amex credit cardholders. Perks can include things like onboard credit or prepaid gratuities.
As a cardholder of Amex Platinum card or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re eligible for exclusive benefits when you book a cruise through Amex Travel.
On eligible cruises of 5 nights or more, you’ll receive a shipboard credit of $100 to $300 per stateroom (based on cabin type and cruise line), plus an additional exclusive amenity based on your cruise line.
Here are the extra amenities you can expect to receive from each cruise line (please keep in mind these are subject to change at any time):
To redeem these benefits, book online with your Amex Platinum card or call the Platinum Card Travel Service at 800-525-3355.
Hot Tip: If you need a few more points for your redemption, check out these ways to earn more American Express Membership Rewards points.
One of the easiest and best ways to use points to pay for your cruise is by using a credit card that earns points or miles that can then be redeemed as a statement credit. These types of cards tend to be easy to use and a great option when you want to book something other than a flight or hotel.
Capital One offers some great cards that may come in handy when booking a cruise, including the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, and Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card.
When you use this method, you can take advantage of any other sale or promotion since you don’t have to book through a specific portal, so it’s a great way to get additional discounts.
The Capital One Venture X card is an excellent option for travelers looking for an all-in-one premium credit card.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the premium Capital One travel rewards card on the block.
Points and miles fans will be surprised to see that the Capital One Venture X card packs quite the punch when it comes to bookings made through Capital One, all while offering the lowest annual fee among premium credit cards.
Depending on your travel goals and preferences, the Capital One Venture X card could very well end up being your go-to card in your wallet.
Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great welcome offer, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.
Frequent travelers with excellent credit may benefit from this credit card that offers a lot of bells and whistles. And it offers easy-to-understand rewards earning and redemption.
The card offers unlimited miles at 1.25x per $1 and no annual fee. When you consider the flexible rewards, frequent travelers come out on top.
Interested in a travel rewards credit card without one of those pesky annual fees? Then say hello to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, the no-annual-fee version of the more popular Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
In addition to no annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card offers no foreign transaction fees.
But is this card worth its salt, or is it merely a shell of the more popular Capital One Venture card?
The value you get for your points will depend on which credit card you have. Here’s a quick look:
|Ultimate Rewards-Earning Credit Card||Value per Point When Used in the Chase Travel Portal|
|Chase Freedom Flex℠|
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||1.5 cents|
As you can see, Chase credit cards (including Chase’s business credit cards) have different rates of earning points, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card yielding the most value for your Ultimate Rewards points.
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.
Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.
A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.
The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options. Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.
Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!
Once you have enough points, you can take a look at the cruises offered through the Chase travel portal. The good news is that you’ll find cruises from all the major cruise lines you would expect, including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, and more.
You’ll see the prices listed in dollars, so you’ll also have to do the math to figure out how many points you will need. You’ll be able to see the total amount of credit you have at the top of the cruise portal screen.
Once you have selected your cruise, you’ll have to call 855-234-2542 to book as cruises can’t be booked online through Chase.
Citi ThankYou Points are another option when you want to book a cruise with points. Just as with Chase and American Express, you can use your ThankYou Points in the Citi travel portal to book your cruise.
You’ll get 1 cent per point in value when redeeming ThankYou Points in the Citi travel portal, which isn’t bad, but you’ll probably get more value utilizing one of Citi’s hotel or airline transfer partners. However, if a cruise is what you want, using Citi ThankYou Points might be a good option to explore.
Frequent flyers will enjoy 3x ThankYou Points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels.
The Citi Premier® Card is an excellent option for anyone looking for an all-around travel rewards credit card. The card helps you earn points fast with great 3x bonus categories such as restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels. Plus, it offers access to airline and hotel transfer partners, doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and has a reasonable annual fee!
This no annual fee card rewards cardholders for everyday purchases. Earn bonus points at supermarkets and gas stations, plus your points are rounded up on every purchase.
Great card for the average spender with no specific focus category; worry-free cash-back earning on everything!
The Citi Double Cash® Card has long been one of the top cash-back credit cards on the market, and the card now has the ability to earn Citi ThankYou Points!
This means that cardholders of the Double Cash card will now earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou Points. This means each billing cycle, you will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on purchases and an additional ThankYou point for every $1 paid on your purchase balance as long as there is a corresponding balance in your Purchase Tracker.
Citi has turned the Double Cash card into a top choice for those who are looking for an everyday, no-fuss credit card.
Earn big on purchases in your top eligible spend category, up to the first $500 each billing cycle, with no annual fee!
The Citi Custom Cash® Card is inventive when it comes to cash-back credit cards. Instead of earning a set amount of cash-back on predetermined bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash card earns 5% cash-back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle, without an annual fee.
Thanks to that unique perk, you’ll never need to worry about whether you’re using the right card for the right purchase, as your Citi Custom Cash card will always pay you 5% back on whichever category you end up spending the most on each month.
To book a cruise with your Citi ThankYou Points, select Cruise from the Citi Travel Portal.
You’ll then be able to search for a specific cruise or choose from any of the featured cruise offers. Once you’re ready to book, you’ll need to call Citi Travel at 800-842-6596.
Hot Tip: Not sure where to start? Check out our detailed guide to the best websites to use to book a cruise.
If you are interested in booking a cruise, you might be tempted to check out a co-branded cruise line credit card. These are generally not a great value — even for booking a cruise. But, if you’re still interested, we’ll give you a quick taste of what you can expect.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the credit cards offered by cruise lines:
This card comes with a welcome bonus of a $250 statement credit after spending $500. You’ll earn 2x points on any Carnival Cruise purchases and 1x points on all other purchases. You can redeem your FunPoints for 1 cent per point towards Carnival cruises, including onboard charges. Unfortunately, this card’s points are tied to Carnival, so they aren’t super flexible.
This card comes with a measly 10,000 point welcome bonus (worth $100 in ship credit on Royal Caribbean), Celebrity, or Azamara Club Cruises, plus 10,000 bonus points (worth $100 statement credit). You’ll earn 2x points on Royal Caribbean and sister brand ships and 1x point per dollar spent on everything else.
The Royal Caribbean MyCruise Points program is complicated — there is a list of specific redemptions with very specific requirements. If you’re looking for a straightforward, easy way to pay for your cruise with points, this isn’t the program for you.
This card is another lackluster cruise line credit card. The welcome bonus is 10,000 Princess Points, which is worth $100 as a statement credit towards a Princess Cruises purchase. You’ll earn 2x points on Princess Cruises purchases and 1x points on all other purchases.
With the Norwegian Cruise Line card, you’ll earn 3 WorldPoints for every dollar you spend on Norwegian Cruise Line purchases, 2x points per dollar on airline and hotel purchases, and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. This card also comes with a 25,000-point bonus offer that is worth $250 towards upgrades, discounts, onboard credits, and more.
This is a standard cruise line card, offering a welcome bonus worth $100 in onboard credit. This card earns 2x points on Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Azamara Club Cruises. You can redeem your points for onboard credits or cruise vacations.
While the Disney Premier card isn’t specifically a cruise card, the Disney Rewards Dollars you earn can be applied to Disney cruises. This card comes with a decent welcome bonus worth $300 and even offers bonus categories for points:
You can use your Disney Rewards Dollars toward Disney Cruise Line packages and onboard charges.
You may be surprised to know that you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points to book a cruise. While many people might think of Marriott Bonvoy points as hotel points, they are actually transferable and very flexible — they can be used for hotels, flights, and even cruises!
Marriott Bonvoy partners with Cruise With Points to allow you to use your Marriott Bonvoy points towards a cruise vacation (or you can choose to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on cruises that you pay for).
A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Casual travelers who like to frequent properties that are part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection of brands may want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
The Marriott Bold card rewards cardholders for Marriott stays and gives them a boost towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Marriott loyalists will love this card's annual free night award, automatic elite status, and up to 17x points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays.
If you’re a frequent traveler and a Marriott loyalist, there’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes packed with several great benefits like a free hotel night once a year, automatic Silver Elite status (with a fast-track to Gold Elite status), and multiple options for redeeming points.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, the latest mid-tier offering in the Marriott Bonvoy lineup of cards, offers cardholders automatic elite status and ways to earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on each of their stays and daily purchases.
A premium card for Marriott fans who want perks like an annual statement credit and Free Night Award, plus a fast track to Marriott elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium card designed with road warriors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalists in mind.
So is the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet?
You can redeem your points for a certificate that you can apply to your cruise:
|Number of Marriott Bonvoy Points||Discount Certificate Awarded|
|Varies based on price||Free cruise|
While it’s great to have this option, unless a cruise is the only way you want to travel, it’s not the best use of your Marriott Bonvoy points since you’ll only get 0.4 cents per point in value when booking a cruise. Marriott Bonvoy points are worth ~0.7 cents each so you’ll miss out on some value by using Marriott Bonvoy points for a cruise.
As with most options for booking a cruise, using United miles isn’t the best option as far as value is concerned — you’ll get ~0.7 cents per mile when booking a cruise. United miles are generally valued at right around 1.3 cents per mile, so you’re getting less than half the value you could get if you used your miles for a flight.
But if you’re flush with United miles and just want to go on a cruise, it might be an option to consider.
You can use your World of Hyatt points to book Lindblad cruises. To pay for your cruise with points, you’ll need to book through the Hyatt/Lindblad website or by calling 866-537-5099 or 646-969-4997. You’ll get ~1.6 cents per point in value which is great considering we value World of Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each.
Let’s review a few other ways to get the most out of your next cruise.
Qualifying Platinum and Noir members in the MGM Rewards program can receive a free cruise on Royal Caribbean or Celebrity Cruises each year.
Amex Offers are a great perk of having an American Express credit card. Keep an eye out for offers on cruises — you may be able to get an additional discount or bonus Membership Rewards points. These offers can be stacked with any other discounts or bonuses! You can always pay for part of your cruise with your credit card to get the bonus, then use points for the rest.
Similarly, Chase Offers also features cash-back offers across many categories, including travel.
Cruise-related offers have included cash-back and percent-back offers with Carnival and Crystal. Make sure you’re checking your current Chase Offers frequently to see what’s currently available on your card!
If you decide you would rather pay for your cruise and save your points for a better redemption, be sure to set yourself up to earn the most points on your next cruise:
Hot Tip: If you’re not sure how to pay for your cruise, check out our guide to the best credit cards for booking cruises.
While booking a cruise with points and miles might not be as straightforward as booking a hotel or flight, it can be done! There are lots of options to pay for your entire cruise with points or to use points to get a substantial discount.
Keep in mind, with most of these methods, the value you are going to get for your points is less than what it could be if you were using them in a more traditional way (for flights or hotels). But, if a cruise is what you want and your points can help get you there, then it’s a good redemption for YOU! Happy sailing!
The information regarding the Carnival® World Mastercard®, Royal Caribbean Visa Signature® Card, Princess Cruises® Rewards Visa® Card, Norwegian Cruise Line® World Mastercard® and Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Flex℠ was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
Yes! While it’s not as good of a value as using points for a flight or hotel, you can use your points for cruises. Look for cards that earn points or miles that act as a statement credit for travel purchases. Check out programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards and use these types of points in their travel portals for cruises. You can also use Marriott Bonvoy points and United miles to book cruises.
Yes, you can use United MileagePlus miles towards a cruise. You can no longer redeem American AAdvantage miles, Southwest Rapid Rewards points, or Delta SkyMiles for a cruise.
No, you can no longer book a cruise with Hilton Honors points. The only hotel points you can use to book a cruise are Marriott Bonvoy points or World of Hyatt points (for Lindblad only).
Yes. The miles you earn on Capital One credit cards can be used to redeem against travel purchases within the previous 90 days (including cruises) on your statement. Alternatively, you can use points to book a cruise through the Capital One Travel portal.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.