Bonaire has been a dream destination of mine ever since my dive instructor told our class about it. I heard tales of all day diving through beautiful coral reefs, friendly locals, and almost no commercialized mess! It was a perfect haven for diving and relaxing alike.
The only holdback with traveling to Bonaire is the ticket price, as most go for between $750-$1000! I’ll outline 2 ways to make the flight financially feasible! The first is through the use of credit card points and the second is a ticket booking tip that I learned from the locals.
Credit card points can make any travel attainable, but there are optimal ways to use them in order to achieve maximum value. Generally the rule of thumb for redeeming your card points is to look for redemptions that make each point worth at least 2 cents! If you have points with Chase, American Express, or Citi there are plenty of ways to make this happen. We used our points to fly Delta non-stop from Atlanta to Bonaire, for a total of 20,000 per person. This is an outrageous value considering that if the flight cost between $750-$1000, the points would be worth between 4-5 cents per point!
Here is where things get a bit dense, so if you have no interest in points I’d recommend you move on to the next paragraph! Ok, so now on to how we maximized those points. American Express (Amex) points are transferable, like most of the other premium currencies. Unlike most others, Amex often offers transfer bonuses to particular partners. It's important to understand that transferring points to the airline that you plan on flying isn’t always the best idea. See, even though we flew Delta, Air France was the recipient of my points transfer from Amex. If I had converted my points into Delta miles, it would have cost over 70,000 per person to fly the same exact itinerary. Air France, a partner of Delta, offered the same flight for 25,000 miles and there was a 30% transfer bonus. This means that I could transfer 20,000 Amex points to Air France and receive 25,000 Air France miles. Then I use those points to redeem my Delta flight through Air France's website.
Now on to a bit more simplistic strategy that involves revenue tickets (purchased with money, not miles). Flying direct to Bonaire can be very expensive as mentioned above, and the way to work around this is to fly to a more popular or larger Caribbean island/city and then hop over! The locals specially single out Aruba and Curaçao as particularly good locations to practice this. Just by looking quickly I am able to find my way to Bonaire using this method for as little as $500 total vs $1000+ direct from the US. If this method interests you, I would recommend using Google Flights to search for those individual itineraries! Check out our next article where I explain how to use Google Flights!