New York City is easily one of the most recognized and visited cities in the world. From lively Broadway shows to iconic historical sights, top-notch restaurant, a notable underground Subway system, and a magnificent urban park that will make you forget the nearby hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps.
Flights: $829.96 Saved
To save on flights, we used some of our miles to book award travel with Spirit Airlines.
As long as you have realistic expectations when flying Spirit, it’s really not so bad. Certainly not bad enough to pass on a (almost) free flight.
Total actual cost paid: $22.40
Spirit sells ‘bare fares’ which pretty much include nothing but the flight itself.
If you go to the counter without your pre-printed boarding pass, they will charge you $10 to print it. If you bring any carry-on luggage, you will be charged $35 (and yes, by that I mean carry-on luggage, not checked luggage).
So if you want to avoid paying any fee for luggage, pack light and bring only one personal item with you with maximum dimensions of 16” long x 14” wide x 12” high.
Hotel: $501 Saved
New York City can get expensive pretty quick, especially when it comes to accommodation. Mid-range hotel rooms can easily cost $200+ per night near Times Square, which is not very budget-friendly.
So we decided to use our accumulated Marriott points that we received as a sign-on bonus from the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card after meeting the minimum spending requirement.
Unfortunately, we did not have enough points to get a hotel in Manhattan, so I expanded the search and sorted in by distance to Times Square and then looked through the results to see which options would have a quick public transportation transit.
After reviewing the options, we ended up booking a room at the Courtyard Lyndhurst Meadowlands in New Jersey, a short 20 minute bus ride to the Port Authority Bus Terminal right in Manhattan.
The hotel room normally costs $167 per night, so for 3 nights that would have been $501. We ended redeeming a total of 45,000 Marriott and had to pay zero dollars.
Total actual cost paid: $0
The hotel was pretty nice; it was very clean and then room was nice as well. However, something that I do not like about any of the Marriott hotels I have stayed in, is that the bed is not facing the tv, so it is very uncomfortable to relax and watch tv.
Instead of paying $15 per day ($60 total) parking fees at the Fort Lauderdale Airport, we drove to an off-airport parking facility about 1 miles from the airport. Actually, we still had a credit that covered our cost from a reservation we had to cancel for our trip in April, because our vehicle had broken down and we took Uber to the airport instead. The downside to this is obviously the wait; on our way back, we did have to wait an hour before the shuttle picked us up unfortunately. But in my opinion, it is still worth the savings.
In New York, we did not rent a car, but instead just used their widely available network of public transportation, including buses and the subway.
Note that the majority of buses and subways require you to have a NYC MetroCard to be able to enter the bus/subway. We landed in LaGuardia and were able to locate a MetroCard vending machine where you can buy a card for $1. However, we were not able to add money to the card through the machine and had to find a vendor at the airport that sold prepaid MetroCards with a balance on them already. The larger machines accept cash, credit cards, and debit cards. The small MetroCard Vending Machines are for credit cards and debit cards only; they do not accept cash.
It is possible to load a minimum of $5.50 on the card and then you can either pay per ride ($2.75). If you choose this option, you can use 1 MetroCard for up to 4 people. Each one will still have to pay for the fare of course, but you don’t have to buy a separate card for each person.
If you are staying in NYC for 5 days or longer and you are planning to use the subway or bus, your better option may be to purchase a 7-day unlimited pass ($31 per person). If you want to learn more about MetroCard fares here.
Because our hotel was in New Jersey, we had to take a NJ Transit bus, which was not part of the MetroCard network and we had to pay separate for those bus tickets. All in all, we spent $72 for the transits between NYC and our hotel for all days combined and spent $25 for the MetroCard. Still a much better deal than renting a car or paying for a hotel in NYC instead of using our points to book a free award stay.
Total actual cost paid: $97
New York has soooo much to do and explore, it is impossible to see and do it all. To make the most of your time in the Big Apple, prioritize your activities based on your interests.
If you are a foodie, plan your daily activities based on the restaurants you definitely want to try. If you are a tv fanatic, you can attend some of the talk shows that are being filmed in New York, such as The Tonight Show, David Letterman, SNL, Dr Oz, Jerry Springer, The View, Good Morning America. Tickets are usually free and talk shows are filmed daily.
If you love art and/or history, you have a lot of great museums and historical sights available in NYC.
Here are the sights that we were able to visit during our NYC trip:
- Times Square (wow, so colorful!)
- Grand Central Station (magnificent!)
- Central Park (my favorite place in New York! I love the contrast between the busy city and this 843 acre large paradise)
- NY Stock Exchange
- Federal Reserve
- The Empire State Building
- Top of the Rock Observation Deck
- Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island
- 9/11 Memorial & Museum
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you plan to visit some of the spots I included in orange above and you want to save some money, I would highly recommend the NYC CityPASS. It allows you to skip a lot of the ticket lines, allowing you to spend more time enjoying the different sights and you can use it over a span of 9 days. If you have any questions about the CityPASS, feel free to comment below this post.
They have two different options:
Actual Spending: $97 (transportation) + $22.40 (flights) + $0 (hotel) + $110 (food) + $15 (misc.) = $244.40 total for a 4-day/3-night trip.
Have you visited New York before? Do you have any tips on sightseeing, dining, or staying in New York on a budget?
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Nici is a mommy of 2, wife, successful Marketing professional, and travel nerd who is passionate about showing you how you can travel and explore the world by sharing her own travel stories and experiences.