Are All-Inclusive Resorts Worth the Cost?

A man and a women are drinking wine and having dinner with the sunset and lake in the background.

When planning a vacation, organizing all the details and calculating costs can make your getaway feel like an overwhelming chore. An all-inclusive vacation may cover both bases by providing a simplified experience, melding all aspects of your trip under one price. Despite the apparent ease of an all-inclusive trip, however, it may not be worth it if additional costs and reduced options outweigh the convenience.

What Is an All-Inclusive Vacation?

An all-inclusive vacation streamlines your planning and budgeting process by combining parts of a trip you normally have to pay for separately, such as lodging, food, drinks and amenities.

What's included in each all-inclusive deal will be unique to the package you purchase. Some may include every meal, tip and activity from the moment you arrive; others may leave gratuities, taxes and other items separate from the initial price quote. Typically, you pay for the all-inclusive package in advance, either in full or with a partial down payment.

Pros and Cons of All-Inclusive Vacations

Weighing the pros and cons of an in-inclusive vacation can help make the decision easier.

Pros

Certain aspects of an all-inclusive vacation can make the cost feel worth it.

  • Convenience: If you plan to stay resort-bound and sip cocktails all day on the beach, you might find an all-inclusive vacation that covers all alcohol takes away the stress of paying the bill each time you order a piña colada.
  • Less planning stress: Planning your vacation will take less effort and cause less stress if you know you'll be spending most of your vacation enjoying the amenities, dining and drinks at one all-inclusive resort.

Cons

Ideally, an all-inclusive vacation means you can experience all the accommodations, activities and dining a resort offers without sparing a thought for the individual costs. Unfortunately, it's usually not quite so simple. Even the most marvelous all-inclusive vacations can come with a few pitfalls that might affect their worth.

  • All-inclusive might not include all. Each all-inclusive package differs from the next, and the limits on its amenities might make for a more limited vacation. You might find out you have to pay extra for water activities like boating or snorkeling, that wine isn't included with your dinners or that the spa services are separate—and pricey—additions to your bill. Even internet access in your hotel room could be an extra charge.
  • Off-property adventures will cost you. Your all-inclusive location might be stocked with food and fun, but costs can add up if you'd like to explore outside of the resort. Extras like sightseeing or checking out local restaurants will add expenses to your budget.
  • You could pay for things you won't use. For instance, an all-inclusive package that covers surfing lessons and cocktails could be a waste of money if you don't drink alcohol and have no interest in hitting the waves.

How to Save Money on Any Vacation

Whether or not you opt to go the all-inclusive route, consider money-saving strategies to get the most out of your vacation. One of the best ways to do this is to utilize the right travel rewards cards.

Some of the biggest resort chains offer competitive all-inclusive vacations when you participate in the company's rewards programs. For example, the World of Hyatt offers all-inclusive vacation packages in exchange for points earned on eligible credit cards that earn Hyatt points. If you're a Chase Ultimate Rewards user, you can transfer your points over to Hyatt at a 1:1 transfer ratio.

If you're less inclined to take the all-inclusive route and you've got a good credit score, you may want to try a card like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards for Good Credit. You can use it to earn 1.25 miles on every dollar spent, plus 5 miles per dollar when you book your hotels and rental cars through Capital One Travel.

Although a healthy credit score makes securing a great travel rewards credit card significantly easier, you're not necessarily out of luck if your credit score is less than stellar. (You can see where your credit score stands today for free through Experian.)

The Bottom Line

An all-inclusive trip could mean you can enjoy your vacation without stressing over the impending bill with each meal or spa visit. That said, you might save some money and widen your vacation options by booking all the parts of your trip separately.

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