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The only currency that is guaranteed to get you a seat on the flight you want at the time you want is cash.
Cash is king, and while it's good to be the king, with a little planning, knowledge, and diversity in your rewards portfolio, you can stretch those rewards much further than cash.
Take a journey with us to identify sweet spots in some loyalty programs that can get the most from every bit of the travel rewards balance you've built. Our goal is to minimize the number of points, miles, and cash you'll pay — these sweet spots make that happen.
This isn't every program and every sweet spot, but rather some of the more popular and easily accessible programs. We'll update this resource as we identify additional hidden gems; if you're looking to get the most from each point or mile this is where you want to start your search:
Destination Sweet Spots
Which points and miles are the best to get you to these destinations
- Australia/New Zealand
- Europe (Business/First Class)
- Europe (Economy Class)
- New York to London – One of the more popular routes in the world
- South Africa
Airline Sweet Spots
Destinations to extract the most value from these programs
- Air Canada Aeroplan – Europe, Stopovers and Open Jaws
- Air France Flying Blue – Including Hawaii, Israel, and Northern Africa
- Alaska Airlines – Including awards to Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia
- Alaska Airlines #2 – It really is our favorite mileage currency.
- American Airlines AAdvantage – Economy, Business and First Class options
- Avianca LifeMiles – Business/First to Europe, Transcon Busines and a ton more
- ANA Mileage Club – Too many to list including Around-the-World in business for 125k miles
- British Airways Avios – Shorter business class awards and a steal of a deal to Ireland
- Delta Air Lines – Yes, even Delta has sweet spots!
- Delta Air Lines – 9 EPIC ways to use 70,000 Delta SkyMiles
- Delta Air Lines Video Sweet Spot Presentation – By Richard Kerr, Founder of Award Travel 101
- JetBlue TrueBlue – Not all JetBlue redemptions are created equal, even though their prices are tied to the cash cost of a ticket
- Korean Air SKYPASS – Awards with a stopover, and trips to almost anywhere with SkyTeam
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – Flights with partner United at better rates than MileagePlus
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards – Identifying how to squeak out the right value from Rapid Rewards
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles – Hawaii to New Zealand & Mainland US to Europe are our favorites
- United Airlines MileagePlus – Maximizing miles on Star Alliance partners
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club – Leveraging partners in less than obvious locations
Hotel Sweet Spots
Properties and strategies to extract maximum value from hotel rewards
- Hilton Honors – 5 Budget Redemptions with great value
- IHG Rewards – Great value with the free night certificate and how to stretch point value
- World of Hyatt – Hotels scattered across the globe that provide a consistently superior value
- Marriott + Starwood – Many new transfer options, opening up a world of options for all members
Flexible Points Sweet Spots
Best Way to Accumulate These Points & Miles
All of the programs are partners with at least one of the flexible travel rewards programs. If you're looking to build up a balance in any of these programs, here are your options:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
- American Express® Business Gold Card
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- Chase Freedom®
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Ink Plus® Business Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
- Citi Premier℠ Card
- Citi Prestige® Card
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card
- Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card for College Students
- AT&T Access Card From Citi
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
- Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus Business Credit Card – No longer open to applications
- The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card – No longer open to applications
- Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card – No longer open to applications
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