Six: Join Hotel And Airline Loyalty Programs
The right rewards credit cards are the foundation of a successful travel rewards strategy. But you can multiply your earning potential with a little planning. Join airline, hotel, and other loyalty programs to get more bang for your buck.
Now, there are dozens of airlines and even more hotel brands. You dont have to sign up for all of their loyalty and frequent flyer programs. Instead, join the loyalty programs of any airline you fly and any hotel chains where you may book reservations in the future. Typically, youll need to set up a loyalty account if you want to transfer credit card rewards to a specific hotel or airline partner .
If you book travel through a third-party website, like Expedia or Orbitz, make sure to include your airline and hotel loyalty program numbers there as well so you can earn points for your purchases. Finally, you may be able to score extra rewards through loyalty programs in unexpected ways.
Advance planning could easily help you earn triple rewards when you book travel.
Fly To Hong Kong In American Airlines Flagship First Class
We consider American Airlines to have one of the best business class hard products. In first class, the cabin is much more private and service is a bit more refined but we think the biggest perk of flying AAs Flagship first class is the ability to access the Flagship First Class Lounge!
This might seem trivial, but these lounges are reputed to be among the best in the world .
Flying to Hong Kong is possible on AA from 2 cities: Los Angeles and Dallas . AA operates the same exact aircraft, so the experience will be consistent.
First class will run at 67,500 Etihad Guest miles transferred from Capital One miles.
Heres the example route were talking about:
- Dallas Hong Kong one-way in Flagship first class on American Airlines for 67,500 Capital One miles transferred to Etihad Guest, plus ~$87 in taxes and fees
Really Important Things To Look For In A Travel Rewards Credit Card
To get the ball rolling, heres a quick video on how to pick a credit card:
Comparing credit cards can be a little overwhelming. To help you stay focused and ensure you get the best card for you and your goals, here are the six things I look for in a new card:
1. A huge welcome offer The best travel cards will all offer you a sizable introductory offer. Youll need to meet a minimum spending requirement but it will be these welcome points that jump-start your mileage account and get you closer to a free flight or hotel stay.
Sometimes these offers are even big enough to get you a few free flights right off the bat! Dont sign up for a card unless it offers a high welcome offer.
As a general guide, welcome offers work like this: in order to receive the large introductory offer, you must make either a single purchase or meet a minimum spending threshold in a certain time frame. After that, depending on the card, you can earn 1-5x points per dollar spent.
Typical travel credit card welcome offers range between 40,000 to 60,000 points, though sometimes they can be as high as 100,000. Thats why cards are so greatyou get an instant balance of thousands of points for very little work.
If youre not sure youll be able to make the minimum threshold for the welcome offer, ask around to see if any friends or family are planning a large purchase. If theyll let you put it on your card you can easily meet the minimum spend threshold to earn your welcome points.
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What Is The Best Travel Rewards Card
We think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the best overall travel rewards card, but the best card for your particular situation will depend on what benefits you care about the most, as well as how you feel about paying a high annual fee.
We’d recommend opening a travel rewards card that earns Amex or Chase points, since these are among the easiest rewards to redeem and you have various travel partners to utilize. But if you’ve investigated your options and are confident that you can get value out of their rewards, cards that earn Capital One miles or Citi ThankYou points can make sense as well.
Why Choose Discover It Miles As My Travel Credit Card
Discover it® Miles gives you so many perks. You’ll earn 1.5X Miles on every purchase, so its easy to rack up rewards fast to reach travel goals. You can redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases, or for cash in any amount, any time. Card membership includes more perks, like great service and security benefits with and .
If you’re looking at other travel credit cards, see if the card issuer charges a large annual fee or a foreign transaction fee. Perks like lounge access, elite status, a loyalty program, a platinum card or a gold card may not be worth the annual fee. It’s hard to know what your credit limit will be before you apply for travel credit cards, but you can check how the reward points work for the card issuer. For example, if there is a bonus point on eligible purchases such as 5x points or 2x points, check what the reward is on everyday purchases. “5x points,””2x points” or “Earn 2x” can sound good unless your typical spending doesn’t fit the eligible purchases for that card issuer or their annual fee is too high. Finally see if new card membership comes with security features and service benefits or other helpful perks like the opportunity to do a balance transfer.
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Delta Skymiles Reserve American Express Card Premium Delta Skymiles Credit Card
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card gives you Main Cabin 1 priority boarding and the first checked bag free on Delta flights for you and up to 8 travel companions. As the primary cardholder, you get complimentary access to the Delta SkyClubs® for you when traveling on a Delta flight. You also earn get free Delta Sky Club access and your first two guests cost $39 per visit when traveling on a Delta flight.
Plus, enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge The Centurion® Studio Partner when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.
One exciting reason to get this card is the annual Companion Certificate. Cardholders can receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of their Card. *Payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
There is also a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Cardholders earn 3x miles on Delta purchases and 1x mile for all other eligible purchases.
This is one of the best Delta Airlines credit cards.
For a limited time, new cardholders can earn 80,000 Bonus Miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles after spending $5,000 in purchases on their new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
The annual fee is $550 but there are no foreign transaction fees .
Book Vacation Homes And Villas With Onefinestay
onefinestay is a London-based hospitality company that offers upscale home, villa, and chalet rentals. This company is actually owned by Accor, making it easy to earn and use Reward points for onefinestay bookings.
When you make a paid onefinestay booking, youll earn 1 Reward point per 1 spent on the room price, excluding taxes.
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Eight: Look For Point Redemption Value
Before you officially redeem rewards, you need to figure out the value of what youre getting. Calculating redemption value involves comparing how much a travel purchase would cost you in points or miles versus cash.
You can calculate redemption value on your own or you can search for online award rate calculators to help you. If you want to run the figures yourself, use the following formula.
- Redemption Value = X 100
Slickdeals Contributor Eric Rosenberg found an amazing deal that serves as a great example here a business class flight on United from JFK International Airport in New York to Frankfurt, Germany for 120,000 points. If you paid for the round-trip flight in cash, it would cost you around $4,000. Heres a look at the redemption value for that flight.
- $4,000 ÷ 120,000 = 0.03 X 100 = 3.3
The redemption value on this flight is 3.3. In other words, your points are worth 3.3 cents each.
Currently, the average redemption value for airline miles among U.S. carriers is reported to be 1.3 cents. So, 3.3 cents is a superb value. You wont always be so lucky. If your calculations reveal a low redemption value, you might be better off changing your travel plans if you can or paying cash if you cant.
Other Ways To Redeem Your Miles
If a discounted flight isn’t enticing enough, you can often convert your miles into other rewards options, including cash back, gift cards, and other gifts. However, as some credit card miles are valued between a half cent and two cents per mile, you should work out the math to make sure your conversion makes sense. Converting miles into cash can often reduce the payout to a half-cent or less per mile: so be sure that you count out the value of your rewards before you convert and redeem them.
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Timing Is Everything When Redeeming Credit Card Rewards
You can redeem your credit card rewards online using the airlines website or the credit card portal, but theres a right time to do it.
Miles may expire, so always be sure to redeem them while theyre active. Check expiration dates in your account. Also, consider traveling off-peak and avoiding holidays. Off-peak rates vary, depending on your destination, and holiday travel may require additional miles.
If busy professionals are looking to maximize their miles, Id suggest a late spring or early fall vacation, say Barrett. The weather is often decent in much of the U.S. and Europe during those times, and the demand for award seats plummets then.
If you want to take a special trip, budget at least one to two weeks time and alert your employer a few months in advance. For the past two years, I took two weeks off to go to Europe and gave my clients plenty of notice.
Finally, always check the out-of-pocket price against the total price using miles. In some cases, it may make sense to pay cash instead of redeeming your miles. But if youre going abroad or want to splurge on first class, use the miles to make your dream a reality.
East Coast To Dubai Round
Emirates is known to have one of the best economy products and a fantastic business class. It is currently not in an alliance and only partners with a handful of airlines, which makes these award redemptions a little tougher to snag.
There are several East Coast cities in this points range that fly direct to Dubai including Boston , New York , and Toronto . For Emirates award flights, you should reference the first award chart since the one-way distance is less than 7,000 flown miles, Zone 7 pricing applies.
Hot Tip: Need help booking? Read our guide on how to book Emirates business class using points.
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Fly Star Alliance North America To India: 96000 Miles In Business Class One
The India region includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
With 96,000 Lufthansa miles, you can book a one-way Star Alliance business class flight from the U.S. to the India region.
Examples of nonstop Star Alliance flights to the India region include:
- Chicago Delhi on Air India
- Newark Mumbai on United
Taxes and fees for a one-way business class flight will be around $28 and will be significantly higher when flying Air India. We recommend calling Lufthansa to confirm the taxes and fees.
The Best Airline Miles Rewards Credit Cards
Unless youre a frequent traveler chasing elite status, a travel rewards credit card that gives you miles good on any airline is probably your best bet.
There are several advantages to earning airline credit card miles:
- Airline Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit toward any travel purchase (tickets on any airline, hotels, rental cards, cruises, etc.
- There are no blackout dates or other restrictions.
- Unlike many frequent flyer miles programs, you dont need to accumulate the miles needed for an entire flightyou can redeem in increments as low as $50 to defray your travel purchases.
- Most credit card miles do not expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
The good news is you have several great optionsmost of which offer generous sign-up bonuses worth up to $625 if you can spend a certain amount within a few months of signing up.
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Redeeming Credit Card Travel Points: What You Need To Know
Advertiser Disclosure: ValuePenguin is an advertising-supported comparison service which receives compensation from some of the financial providers whose offers appear on our site. This compensation from our advertising partners may impact how and where products appear on our site . To provide more complete comparisons, the site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.
Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the authors opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
Citi is an advertising partner
Turning credit card rewards into free travel may sound like magic if you haven’t done it yet. You use a card to buy groceries, gas and everyday goods, pay the bill every month and then jet off on a free vacation to a big city, fancy resort or tropical island.
However, you can make this scenario your reality if you qualify for a travel credit card and are willing to do a little legwork to learn how to redeem points or miles through your chosen credit card rewards program.
How Many Credit Card Miles Do You Need Before You Redeem
While the shortest flights will cost you about 10,000 miles for a free ticket, you can redeem any amount of miles you have in your account to find reduced fares on participating airlines. If your credit card is not partnered with a specific airline, you can shop around to find a flight that meets your needs and check to see if a miles transfer is available.
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Heres How To Earn Miles With A Credit Card:
Chase Pay Yourself Back
For Chase Sapphire cardholders, using Chases Pay Yourself Back feature can help you use your cards boosted points value toward non-travel purchases. That means you can get a 25% points boost with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and 50% boost with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® on both travel redemptions through Chase and eligible Pay Yourself Back categories.
Since the feature was introduced early in the pandemic, eligible redemption options have changed. But now through March 2022, categories for Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders include Airbnb and Away purchases and select charitable donations. Chase Sapphire Reserve Pay Yourself Back eligible categories include those, as well as dining, including takeout and delivery.
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How To Choose A Travel Rewards Card
Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one travel rewards card. You might choose a hotel card, an airline card, and a general purpose bank card if that’s the best way for you to maximize your rewards. Just make sure you’re getting your money’s worth if you have to pay multiple annual fees.