Are you recently vaccinated and itching to travel? Do you have a rewards credit card that’s been building up points during the pandemic? Then why not do what my wife and I did, and cash those babies in for a free weekend getaway? We just got back from an amazing three-night trip to Miami, and it could not have been easier. Here’s how we did it—and how you can too!

A lot of people don’t know this, but one credit card point can be worth anywhere from 1.3 to 1.7 cents depending on which loyalty program you use to redeem it. I tried explaining this to my wife, but she was on a work call in the bedroom and I don’t think she really took it in. She just asked if I’d booked our trip yet and told me to stop reading “points articles.” I’m glad I didn’t though, because saving points is basically like earning money if you’re between jobs. It’s like saying to the company that laid you off: Hey, if you guys don’t wanna pay me, I’ll pay myself—in points!

After just five hours of research, I was able to find a great deal on flights and a hotel in South Beach. The hotel was especially exciting because it was a Category 4 Hyatt, which usually goes for 15,000 points a night, but I was somehow able to book it for 12,000. Believe me, I wasn’t asking questions! My wife did have a couple questions though, mostly about the hotel's spa, which was under renovation. She said the one thing she wanted on this trip was a massage. I just told her not to worry because secretly, I was planning to surprise her with a luxurious 5,000-point massage at O’Hare during our layover on the way down. She has a pretty intense fear of flying, so I figured that would be a good time for her to relax.

When we got to O’Hare though, my wife decided she didn’t want the massage after all. She just wanted to know how many more points it would have cost to fly direct. “Look who’s getting into points!” I said, and told her the layover had saved us 2,000. She asked what that was worth in dollars, and I said thirty, and then she didn’t say anything for a very long time. Hey, I get it: sometimes the realization that points are cash can be so exhilarating that it actually stuns you.

Our flight from O’Hare was delayed a few hours, but when we arrived at our hotel around 10pm, we found a classic South Beach pool party in full swing! It turned out to be a private event, but we could still hear the music, even up in our room. “Bienvenidos a Miami,” I told my wife with a smile. Right away I could tell she loved the room—she just went straight to the bed and lay down. And by the time I got back with two Cubano sandwiches from the lobby gift shop (only 1,000 points each) she was asleep in her clothes—that’s how comfortable the mattress was!

The rest of the weekend was absolutely incredible. Our points let us sample the authentic local flavor of Miami with a Big Bus tour, a skyline sightseeing cruise, even a Segway tour down Ocean Drive! The only slightly stressful moment happened on our last full day. My wife and I were on the beach, and I suggested taking advantage of the unbelievable point value on parasailing, but she said she’d rather go shopping. When I offered to research stores within a twenty-mile radius that took points, she suddenly screamed “DON’T SAY THE WORD ‘POINTS’ ANYMORE!” and stormed back to the hotel. I followed but got sidetracked when I checked to see if you can rent a paddleboat using points (you can!).

When I got back to the room, it was locked from the inside. I was concerned for a moment, but then my wife called through the door that she was finally getting her long-awaited massage! She explained that the hotel was offering “in-room services” because the spa was closed—how cool is that? Certainly not an amenity you’d expect from a “cheap, ratshit” property (to borrow a phrase of my wife’s).

It also turned out to be an amazing value: the masseuse—a twenty-something guy named Marco—was in there for almost two hours, and my wife said it only cost a thousand points! She seemed super relaxed afterwards, and even smoked a cigarette when she met me down at the pool. “Points’ll do that to you!” I chuckled as I sipped my Mai Tai.

All in all, our Miami vacation was just what the doctor ordered after a long year of being stuck at home. And the best part was that we paid for it with points we’d earned just from everyday spending! Still, it’ll probably be a long time before we’re able to rack up that many points again, especially since the couples counselor my wife insisted we start seeing doesn’t take credit cards.