Oakland is a vibrant and dynamic city that is a great destination for travelers who want to explore the San Francisco Bay Area. You can enjoy the nightlife at Jack London Square, take in the city with a walk around Lake Merritt or enjoy a cruise on the scenic bay.

Oakland is also a good city for budget-conscious travelers, and this guide will help you get the most value for your money. Here’s how to travel to Oakland with points and miles.

Getting to Oakland

Nearest airports

You’ll most likely fly into Oakland International Airport, which is 8 miles from the city center. A possible alternative, San Francisco International Airport, is 22 miles from downtown Oakland.

Taxis and buses are available at the airport. But to skip traffic and save money, you can hop on the Bay Area Rapid Transit airport connector train that goes into the city and connects to other Bay Area destinations, too.

Major airlines flying to Oakland

If you’re planning a trip to Oakland with points and miles, the best bet is membership in a loyalty program for one of these airlines, which operate many of the flights to OAK:

Best points and miles for cheap flights to Oakland

Southwest has by far the highest number of direct flights into Oakland, with planes arriving from major cities in the West, as well as from Chicago, Honolulu and New York.

The number of Southwest Rapid Rewards points needed for a flight varies. A round-trip ticket to Oakland from Los Angeles or Portland, Oregon, can start at less than 5,000 points plus $11.50 in fees.

You can earn Rapid Reward points by flying with Southwest, using a Southwest credit card or by transferring them from a Chase Ultimate Rewards® account.

Hotels to book with points in Oakland

If you’re looking for a low-key stay right in Oakland, there are a number of places where you can redeem hotel points.

Marriott

Marriott Bonvoy members looking to redeem their points in Oakland have a few choices in the downtown area.

Oakland Marriott City Center

The Oakland Marriott City Center draws business travelers with its convenient downtown address next to the convention center and it attracts sports fans with its proximity to the Oakland Arena and the Oakland Coliseum.

Cost to book in points: A standard room that usually goes for around $145 a night costs from 27,500 to 40,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

You can earn Bonvoy points with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, which currently is offering a welcome bonus: Earn 3 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after spending $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening + 10X total points per $1 spent on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores within 6 months from account opening with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is also offering welcome bonus points for new cardmembers: Earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, earn up to $200 in Statement Credits for eligible purchases at U.S. Restaurants within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Hilton

Hilton Honors members can redeem their points at properties on the waterfront or right downtown.

Homewood Suites by Hilton Oakland Waterfront

Photo courtesy of Hilton

Cost to book in points: Room prices vary according to season and demand. A recent search showed rooms in June starting at 41,000 Hilton Honors points per night.

How to earn Hilton points

You can earn Hilton Honors points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card which has the following welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend a total of $10,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months. Terms Apply. This card also offers a free weekend night certificate if you spend $15,000 on the card in a year. Terms apply.

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card also offers new cardmembers a chance to earn bonus points: Earn 150,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card after you use your new Card to make $4,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. The NerdWallet value for Hilton Honors points is 0.5 cent each.

The bottom line

Oakland is a fun and dynamic city you can spend days exploring or use as a gateway to travel around the greater Bay Area. Refer to this guide for cheap and simple ways to get to Oakland using points and miles to kickstart a West Coast adventure with a smaller price tag.

All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.

To view rates and fees of the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, see this page.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, see this page.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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