Seattle Travel on a Budget
Coffee. Rain. Grunge. Space Needle. Pike Place Market. Seattle is known for many things, and it’s one of the greatest cities to visit any time of year! This city has so many great family-friendly activities to offer: Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, Boeing’s Factory Tour, Pacific Science Center, Seattle’s Children’s Museum, water taxis, the list goes on and on. This #WheretoWednesday post will take you through the steps of planning an affordable family summer vacation to this gorgeous city in the Northwest.
Book a Cheap Flight to Seattle
We always book airfare first and then hotel stays. We have found hotel availability to typically be far greater than airline availability. For a family getaway to Seattle, we’ll show you the best flight options and hotel reward stays, and which corresponding credit card sign up bonuses will get you enough points for those reward bookings.
When checking airline awards charts for availability, we try to be flexible with our dates and/or our airports (both departing and arriving airports, if possible). The more flexible you are, the fewer rewards points you’ll use! Generally, American, Delta and United will require 25,000 miles per round-trip airline ticket for coach travel within the continental US. Southwest Airlines rewards bookings are based on the cash value of each ticket, so they vary; however, round-trip.
Southwest tickets can often be booked for 20,000 to 25,000 points each. A family of 4 is going to need roughly 100,000 points to get free airfare (some minimal taxes and fees must be paid and are not covered by points) to Seattle-Tacoma International (the nearest, large airport)
American Airlines to Seattle
Opening both the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite and the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator credit cards and meeting the minimum spend requirements to earn bonus AAdvantage miles will give you 120,000 AAdvantage miles (enough for 4 round-trip tickets).
Delta to Seattle
Opening any combination of two out of the three available Delta credit cards (Platinum Delta SkyMiles, Gold Delta SkyMiles or Delta Reserve) and meeting the minimum spend requirements to earn bonus SkyMiles from the cards will give you over 100,000 SkyMiles (enough for 4 round-trip tickets).
United to Seattle
Opening two United MileagePlus Explorer Card credit cards and meeting the minimum spend requirements to earn bonus miles from both cards will give you 80,000 United Airlines miles. (Note: one individual cannot open this card twice – two individuals will need to open this card.) An additional 20,000 miles would need to be purchased to reach the 100,000 miles needed – this would cost roughly $750.
Southwest Airlines to Seattle
Opening both the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and meeting the minimum spend requirements to earn bonus miles from both cards will give you 80,000 Southwest Airlines points.
Credit card sign-up bonus offers change from time to time – please see our Current Credit Card Offers page for current offers.
Book a Seattle Hotel on the Cheap
We typically check for hotels within the Marriott/SPG, Hilton and Hyatt hotel chains since we know there are credit cards with sign-up bonuses available through those brands. Hotels in Seattle are everywhere…and there are numerous great places to stay. Since we’re writing about an affordable family vacation, we’ve chosen to center our search near the Seattle Waterfront/Downtown/Pioneer Square/Pike Place Market area. Making many sites in the city a fairly easy walk. We’ve bulleted a few hotel options below, along with their respective point requirements for a 5 night stay for a family of 4.
- Renaissance Seattle Hotel: 160,000 Marriott Rewards points
- Seattle Marriott Waterfront: 160,000 Marriott Rewards points
- Courtyard Seattle Downtown/Pioneer Square: 160,000 Marriott Rewards points
- W Seattle: 48,000 Starpoints
- Sheraton Seattle Hotel: 48,000 Starpoints
- The Westin Seattle: 48,000 Starpoints
Marriott International acquired Starwoods Hotel & Resorts Worldwide in 2016, making Marriott and SPG points available to use within both branded chains with a simple transfer. Each SPG Starpoint is converted into 3 Marriott Rewards points and vice versa.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card has an 80,000 point sign-up bonus after meeting the required $3,000 spend in the first 3 months. Along with an additional 7,500 point bonus once an authorized user makes one purchase in the first 3 months. (This card has an $85 annual fee that is NOT waived for the first year.)
Starwood’s Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express has a 25,000 points sign-up bonus after meeting the required $3,000 spend in the first 3 months. (This card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first year.)
Signing up for both of these cards (or two individuals signing up for the same cards) and meeting both spend requirements to receive the sign-up bonuses, would make 5 nights at any of the 3 hotels bulleted above free!
- Hilton Seattle: 132,000 points
- The Arctic Club Seattle: 177,000 points
- Embassy Suites Seattle Downtown Pioneer Square: 232,000
Hilton credit cards were previously issued by both Citibank and American Express, which provided many opportunities for racking up Hilton points. American Express recently entered into an exclusive agreement with Hilton making AmEx the sole issuer, which has essentially cut the ability to rack up Hilton points in half.
American Express is in the process of introducing three all-new Hilton cards, but for now their legacy cards remain, the Hilton Honors Card and the Hilton Honors Surpass Card. The Hilton Honors card currently has a 50,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, while the Surpass card has a 75,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. (The Surpass has a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived in the first year).
I often find Hilton to be one of the less rewarding programs out there, while Marriott and Hyatt only require two sign-ups, staying at The Arctic Club Seattle would require 3 sign-ups, one person signing up for both the Hilton Honors card and the Surpass, with another signing up for the Hilton Honors card, which would net 175,000 points in bonus and the remaining points from spend allowing you to stay at the top two properties listed above for free! (The Embassy Suites would require an additional Surpass signup)
- Grand Hyatt Seattle: 75,000 points
- Hyatt at Olive 8: 75,000 points
- Hyatt Regency Seattle: 75,000 points
Hyatt tends to be one of the more conservative programs out there, they don’t have the largest footprint and you don’t typically see 80,000 point sign-up bonuses, but you can also find many of their properties available for 20,000 or fewer points a night.
Hyatt and Chase have a pretty close relationship, they are the sole issuer of the Hyatt Credit Card and Hyatt is a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards. In other words, if you’re a fan of Hyatt, stay in Chase’s good graces. The current sign-up bonus for the Hyatt Credit Card is 40,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. (The Hyatt Credit Card has a $75 annual fee that is NOT waived in the first year).
Signing up for two of these cards (two individuals signing up for the same card) and meeting both spend requirements to receive the sign-up bonuses, would make 5 nights at the 2 properties listed above free!
With 4 (or 5, maybe 6, if you fall in love with Hilton) credit card sign-up bonuses, round-trip flights and a 5-night stay at a gorgeous hotel(s) near all the amazing sites the gorgeous city of Seattle has to offer could be your next affordable family summer vacation! If you can find flights through American Airlines, our recommendation would be to sign up for two AA cards (Barclay’s [$95 AF] and Citi [waived AF]), the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier [$85 AF] and the SPG Amex [waived AF], bringing your airfare/hotel cost in under $250 after factoring in ~$50 in taxes.