Longtime Go to Travel Gal reader Nancy M. from Denver recently traveled to Cancun with her husband and 13-year-old son and saved more than $3500, using points and our favorite tool, the Southwest Companion Pass! In this post, she shares with us how she did it.

To apply for any of the credit cards in this post, I would greatly appreciate it if you would start at the Travel Credit Cards link in the main menu above. It affords me a commission to help support Go to Travel Gal pay the blogging bills :), which allows me to continue to bring you great content about traveling nearly free — at no cost. Thank you for taking this step!

Nancy, her husband and son traveled to Cancun and saved more than $3500 using travel credit cards and points!

Cancun Hotel Savings and Review

Total Hotel Savings: 2 free nights at Ziva valued at $1,500

We redeemed two free Hyatt nights at the all inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun ($700 a night), which I earned with my Chase Hyatt Visa. We spent an additional three nights at a smaller, two-and-a-half star hotel, the Cancun Clipper Club, spending $70 a night.

We chose to stay at the Clipper Club the first two nights since we were going to mostly be exploring the area for the first day. I probably would not stay at the hotel again, because the air conditioning was so loud it was hard to sleep. Next time I would try a nearby Airbnb.

For our third night, we walked over to the all-inclusive Hyatt Ziva Cancun where we were upgraded to an oceanfront room thanks to my Hyatt Discoverist status included with my Hyatt credit card. Our room, which was renovated in 2016, had a king-size bed, a pull-out sofa bed and free snacks and a stocked mini-bar.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun
The view from Nancy’s room at the Hyatt Ziva Cancun all-inclusive resort

While we’ve been to many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, we found the Hyatt Ziva Cancun to be a step above when it comes to the quality of food and customer service. The Ziva has eight restaurant options, including an Italian eatery, a steak house, an Asian hibachi grill, a 24-hour cafe and an international buffet. In addition to a swim-up bar, guests can enjoy eight bar/lounge options and the on-site brewery.

One of my favorite restaurants was Habanero’s, located right on the beach, specializing in ceviches and tacos during the day and local, Mayan seafood dishes at night. We found each dish creative and great tasting. Next door to Habanero’s is a casual bar with swings and impressive plethora of tropical drinks.

Since Hyatt Ziva is at the tip of the “7” in the Cancun hotel zone, it is surrounded on two sides by beaches. There’s also a lighthouse on the rocky tip of the property.

Hyatt Ziva Cancun
The beach at Hyatt Ziva Cancun

My teenage son’s favorite part of the Hyatt Ziva was being able to grab pizza and ice cream whenever he desired. He also liked the great wifi, available even on the beach, and enjoyed the free use of the stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkel gear.

Flight Savings

Total Flight Savings: 3 free plane tickets on Southwest valued at $2100

We used the Southwest Companion Pass for one of us to fly free and then spent ~44,000 Southwest points to book the remaining two tickets. We used Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, which I transferred to my Southwest Rapid Rewards account to book the tickets to Cancun.

Cancun Activities

We caught the Utlramar Ferry ($20 pp) to Isla Mujeres early one morning and spent the day touring the island by golf cart ($55). Some of our stops included the turtle sanctuary, a local cemetery, the rocky southern tip of the island and a beach restaurant known for its grilled, whole fish called Tic n Xic (Playa Lancheros). We took the ferry back late afternon and had dinner at a breezy, beach-side restaurant called Mocambo

On our last day in Cancun, we packed a day/beach bag, checked out at noon, and left our luggage with the concierge so we could enjoy the beach for one last full day. We decided to stay through dinner and watched the nightly performance before taking a taxi back over to the Cancun Clipper Club. This night we had a much larger suite with full kitchen and a quieter air conditioner.

Airport Perks

I was excited to try out my Priority Pass at the Cancun Airport. This free one-year membership was an included benefit of my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. I’ve used the pass at a few U.S. airport lounges, and they were much larger and nicer than the Cancun lounge. Since we arrived at the airport three hours early, we enjoyed the calmer atmosphere in the lounge, as well as the mini burritos, soft drinks and beer. The lounge also had a men’s and women’s bathroom on site.


Thanks to Nancy for sharing how she saved more than $3500 on her trip to Cancun and inspiring us on how traveling nearly free is very much within reach and doesn’t have to be complicated. She used three credit cards total and really only two (Hyatt and Chase Sapphire Preferred) to book her free flights and hotel. Who wants to go to Cancun?

Did you use miles and points to save significantly on a recent trip? Send me a trip report and I’ll share with Go to Travel Gal readers!

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  • Lyn Mettler

    Lyn Mettler is a longtime travel writer for US News & World Report, USA Today 10Best and The TODAY Show who created Families Fly Free, a program which teaches families her simple system to use travel rewards to fly for free.

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