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With almost all loyalty programs, the value you get from redeeming points and miles will vary. Some redemptions can provide incredible value. Other redemptions will downright suck. One of the biggest challenges in the points and miles world is how to get more great redemptions — plus avoid fewer bad redemptions. Put another way, how do you minimize the number of points, miles, and cash you'll pay for the experience?
AwardWallet is here to help you solve that challenge. We've written a series of “sweet spot” posts covering the best redemptions for dozens of the most popular loyalty programs — plus the best ways to get to popular destinations like Hawaii.
If you're looking to get the most from each point or mile, this is where you want to start your search.
- Best Uses of Airline Miles
- Best Uses of Hotel Points
- How Much Are Airline Miles Worth?
- Best Way To Earn Points & Miles for These Sweet Spots
- Bottom Line
Best Uses of Airline Miles
Best redemptions for domestic U.S. flights
- Delta flights: 382 Delta routes that you can book for just 7,500 Points
- United flights: 112 United routes that you can book for just 6,500 miles
- Hawaii flights: Best ways to fly to Hawaii using points and miles
- Amex Membership Rewards: Best ways to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for U.S. domestic flights
- Chase Ultimate Rewards: Maximize Chase Ultimate Rewards points for flights within North America
- Capital One Rewards: Maximize Capital One miles for flights within North America
- Citi ThankYou Points: Maximize Citi ThankYou Points for flights within North America
U.S. mileage programs
- Alaska Mileage Plan sweet spots: Including Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Southeast Asia, Europe, South America, and many more.
- American Airlines AAdvantage sweet spots: Including Qatar Qsuite to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, or Africa; Japan Airlines business class to Japan and Korea; and Cathay Pacific business class to Southeast Asia.
- Delta SkyMiles best uses: Delta is constantly changing awards, but here's the latest on where you can find value.
- JetBlue TrueBlue: Although JetBlue is mostly a fixed-value program, some awards are better than others.
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: Identifying how to squeak out the right value from Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus sweet spots: Including domestic U.S. flights, northern South America, business class to Europe, flights within Japan, and getting a free flight on a multi-leg trip.
International mileage programs
- Aeromexico sweet spots: Including awards from the U.S. to Mexico or Europe.
- Air Canada Aeroplan stopover sweet spots: Including hops around South America, visiting Europe and Africa in the same trip, and how to save miles by flying more.
- Air France–KLM Flying Blue award sweet spots: Including Hawaii, Mexico, northern South America, Europe, and northern Africa.
- ANA Mileage Club sweet spots: Jaw-dropping business-class sweet spots to Europe, Asia, Africa, and beyond
- Avianca LifeMiles sweet spots: Including transcontinental U.S. flights and business and first class to Europe, northern South America, South Asia, and the Middle East.
- British Airways sweet spots: Including domestic American and Alaska flights and flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Ireland.
- British Airways sweet spots on Qatar: British Airways recently realigned its award chart for Qatar awards. Here are the new rates and sweet spots.
- British Airways sweet spots on LATAM: Including U.S. to Caribbean, Bogota, Lima, and intra-South America flights.
- Cathay Pacific business class sweet spots: Including business class awards on Cathay Pacific and Qatar QSuite, to Asia and Africa, and around-the-world awards.
- Korean Air SKYPASS sweet spots: Including Europe, Africa, Hawaii, Korea, and awards with a stopover.
- Qatar Airways partner sweet spots: Including flights on American or Alaska within the U.S. or to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Hawaii.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer sweet spots: Including flights within North America, Hawaii, Europe, Asia, and South America.
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles sweet spots: Incredible award rates to Hawaii and business class to Europe, Turkey, Africa, India, and beyond.
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Including ANA business and first class to Japan, business class to New Zealand, short flights on Delta and Aeromexico, and Delta One business class to Europe.
Airline sweet spot roundups
- The best unpublished award sweet spots: Save miles by flying further and routes that price cheaper than they should, such as 35k miles for business class to Europe!
- Practical airline award sweet spots for families: Not every sweet spot can be maximized by families, but these can.
- Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots to Europe
Best Uses of Hotel Points
- Hilton Honors — best budget redemptions
- IHG One Rewards — best luxury redemptions
- World of Hyatt sweet spots: Hyatt still maintains an award chart, so you can get reliable value at hotels scattered across the globe.
- Marriott Bonvoy:
How Much Are Airline Miles Worth?
It's nice to have a measuring stick when figuring out whether or not you're getting a good redemption. The trouble is that travelers assign different values to the same airline miles. To avoid any subjectivity, AwardWallet uses actual award bookings made by AwardWallet users to determine valuations.
Here's what we've found from tracking tens of thousands of actual reward flight bookings made by AwardWallet users:
|Program Name||Average Value||Economy|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||2.57¢||1.17¢||1.33¢||3.8¢||4.39¢|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.52¢||1.52¢||n/a||n/a||n/a|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1.91¢||1.27¢||1.37¢||2.62¢||2.56¢|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue||2.37¢||1.36¢||1.47¢||2.52¢||2.72¢|
|British Airways Executive Club||3.43¢||1.84¢||1.86¢||3.32¢||4.22¢|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3¢||1.74¢||1.87¢||3.45¢||3.23¢|
|Lufthansa Miles and More||3.11¢||0.97¢||1.6¢||3.04¢||3.82¢|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||4.62¢||1.2¢||3.13¢||3.12¢||6.34¢|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||4.96¢||1.83¢||2.57¢||5.39¢||6.39¢|
A couple of caveats about this data. First, AwardWallet users are much more savvy than average travelers. We generally know how to avoid terrible redemptions and focus on the highest-value uses of miles.
Also, there are inherent issues with assigning value based on cash prices — particularly in premium cabins. Would you actually have paid $10,000 for that one-way international first-class flight? Probably not, but using actual cash prices is the best way to assign value without subjectivity.
For much more detail on AwardWallet valuations, check out our dedicated post: How much do AwardWallet members actually save when redeeming points?
Best Way To Earn Points & Miles for These Sweet Spots
We recommend that travelers earn flexible rewards points that can be transferred to a variety of loyalty programs. That gives you the flexibility to maximize your rewards — choosing the right program for each trip and taking advantage of relevant sweet spots. Plus, earning transferrable points insulates you from the devaluation of any one airline mileage program. If one transfer partner changes its program, you should still be able to find value from the other transfer partners.
If you're looking to build up a balance in any of these programs, here are your options:
American Express Membership Rewards
Amex Membership Rewards can be transferred to 21 Membership Rewards transfer partners: 18 airline mileage programs and three hotel point programs. Here are some of the best cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards and their current welcome bonuses:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points
- American Express® Gold Card: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points
- American Express® Business Gold Card: Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points
Capital One miles
Capital One miles can be transferred to 18 Capital One transfer partners: three hotel programs and 15 airline loyalty programs. Even its no-annual-fee cards have access to all transfer partners, plus you can combine cash-back earnings with your miles to access transfer partners with additional cards. These cards earn Capital One miles:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Earn 20,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card: Earn 75,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Spark Miles for Business: Earn 50,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Spark Miles Select for Business: Earn 50,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Venture X Business: Earn 150,000 bonus miles
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to 14 Chase transfer partners: 11 airline mileage programs and three hotel point programs. Three cards earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points that are fully transferrable to partner programs:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: Earn 60,000 bonus points
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card: Earn 100,000 bonus points
In addition, you can use Chase's cash-back cards to boost your earnings by combining Chase points across accounts.
Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Citi Premier® Card: Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points
- Citi Prestige® Card: No longer available to new cardholders
However, other Citi cards earn ThankYou Points that can be transferred to a limited set of Citi ThankYou partners — or combined with the above cards to make earnings fully transferrable to partners:
Marriott Bonvoy points transfer to 40 airline programs at a 3:1 transfer rate (with only the rare exception). Plus you'll get 5,000 bonus miles when transferring points to most Marriott airline transfer partners. Earn Bonvoy points through the following Marriott credit cards:
- Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Earn two 85K Free Night Awards
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card: Earn 125,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card: Earn three bonus Free Night Awards
- Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card: Earn 30,000 Marriott bonus points
Wherever you want to go, points and miles can probably get you there. Some redemptions provide better value than others; our goal is to help you find more of those good redemptions. By referencing the sweet spots above, you should be able to find a place you want to go and a way to get there. Now it's time to build a credit card strategy that helps you earn the points and miles you need for that trip.
Did your favorite sweet spot make this list? If not, let us know what it is in the comments below.
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