AwardWallet's Roundup of Airline and Hotel Program Sweet Spots AwardWallet's Roundup of Airline and Hotel Program Sweet Spots

AwardWallet's Roundup of Airline and Hotel Program Sweet Spots

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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 redemptions for domestic U.S. flights

U.S. mileage programs

United Airlines Polaris Business Class
Redeem United MileagePlus miles to fly United Polaris business class. Credit: Max Prosperi / AwardWallet

International mileage programs

Delta One Business Class Suite bookable for 50,000 Virgin points through airline sweet spots
Fly Delta One business class to Europe for just 50,000 points one-way! Credit: Delta

Airline sweet spot roundups

A woman sleeps in a lie-flat TAP Portugal business-class seat, which you can book for 35,000 miles through airline sweet spots.
Fly lie-flat business class to Europe for just 35,000 miles one-way! Credit: TAP Portugal

Best Uses of Hotel Points

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 NameAverage ValueEconomy
Alaska Mileage Plan2.57¢1.17¢1.33¢3.8¢4.39¢
Delta SkyMiles1.38¢1.24¢1.24¢1.96¢2.54¢
Hawaiian HawaiianMiles2.22¢1.26¢1.68¢n/a4.69¢
JetBlue TrueBlue1.23¢1.23¢1.09¢1.4¢n/a
Southwest Rapid Rewards1.52¢1.52¢n/an/an/a
United MileagePlus1.78¢1.23¢1.67¢2.12¢2.69¢
Air Canada Aeroplan1.91¢1.27¢1.37¢2.62¢2.56¢
Air France/KLM Flying Blue2.37¢1.36¢1.47¢2.52¢2.72¢
Avianca LifeMiles2.87¢1.72¢1.84¢2.92¢3.61¢
British Airways Executive Club3.43¢1.84¢1.86¢3.32¢4.22¢
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1.74¢1.87¢3.45¢3.23¢
Emirates Skywards1.58¢1.08¢0.95¢1.72¢1.66¢
Iberia Plus3.55¢1.74¢1.9¢3.64¢4.9¢
Lufthansa Miles and More3.11¢0.97¢1.6¢3.04¢3.82¢
Qantas Frequent Flyer4.62¢1.2¢3.13¢3.12¢6.34¢
Singapore KrisFlyer2.48¢1.49¢1.56¢2.81¢2.56¢
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club4.96¢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:

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:

overlooking a hotel reception desk with multiple guests and employees
Credit: Kateryna Naidenko/Pexels

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:

In addition, you can use Chase's cash-back cards to boost your earnings by combining Chase points across accounts.

Related: Accumulate Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Quickly by Building a Credit Card Combo

Citi ThankYou Rewards

Citi ThankYou Points are a bit harder to earn than the others. Only two cards earn Citi ThankYou points that can be transferred to all 18 Citi transfer partners (14 airlines and three hotels):

  • 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:

Related: Build a Winning Combo of Citi ThankYou Rewards Cards

Marriott Bonvoy

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:

Bottom Line

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.

4.7 / 5 - (26 votes)
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  • Hey Howie, checking back in here since it’s been 7 months since my last comment. Any plans to publish South America and Asia soon?

  • An interesting redemption I found today for Lufthansa miles is 20k one way from Hawaii to East Asia.

  • Howie – thanks for the link to this blog, from another of your blogs. I would have missed it!

  • This is great content but why is there not a section for South America and Asia. Seems like a pretty big missed opportunity

  • great compendeum!

  • This is a great reference for all the best uses of airline miles and hotel points and all the great credit cards to have.

  • It’s always good to get a refresher on these things.

  • interesting post, full of information and tips. its helpful for me to understand a bit more about how to maximise my rewards etc. Seems a bit complicated, but helpful overall.
    Thanks for sharing and putting this together.

  • As others have said, tremendous job by all concerned! Great compilation – thanks!

  • Wow this is a great resource – thank you for sharing!

  • Wealth of information for self-study. Thank you.

  • Thanks for the useful information.
    I hope I’ll make good use of some of these sweet spots.

  • Thank you so much! So helpful!!

  • Nice list, would love to see more details though.

  • I am a new member & already the info here has helped enormously , wish I joined years ago.

  • Thus is a great list as reference. Thank you

  • I love the sweet spots very much. Now I do not have to go to the loyalty programs websites to compare the dollar values of my choices. I wish there is a points calculator convert to dollar value so that I know how much money values of my points of different programs. Any other suggestions?

  • What a terrific amount of info in one place! I’m definitely bookmarking this! Thx!

  • Again a big THANK YOU going out! Well done!

  • angelo fonseca says:

    Fantastic. Thank you very much. I got the award ticket that I was looking for.

  • Great info. Thanks for this update.

  • As has been said before, great tips!

  • This is a great comprehensive guide. Thank you!

  • Makes me want more and more SPG points!

  • Lovely compilation, thanks for the info

  • Mind blowing resource! Thanks Howie!

  • Amazing and informative article! I will put so much info into use! Thank you!

  • A helpful guide. 22,500 AA points to go to Europe is a bargain.

  • Awesome post! Definitely helps me to figure which programs to use for where.

  • Thanks for the info

  • I like this consolidation. Very helpful!

  • Hi Howie,

    I’d like to find out what’s the best way/sweet spot to fly to Beirut from LAX in First or in Suites.

  • Great resource!! Thank you!

  • Thanks, very helpful! I may have missed it, but what miles do you recommend as best for California to French Polynesia? Once one has these miles, which airline should be used to book? And, recommended ways to accumulate these miles (or transferable points).

  • nice to be reminded of all of these optons

  • I love using BA Avios for the short hops and also US west coast to Hawaii! only if they allow more generous redemption space though….

  • Air Flyer says:

    This is a great list

  • I am not sure I understand how to do this? I have a ton of points on United. How do I book a flight via Singapore airlines with my United points? Do I have to sign up for the Singapore airlines mileage program first, and transfer points? Or can I book with United points directly on Singapore without transferring? If I try to book using points on United, then it is the original United rate. But If I am not logged in to the Singapore portal, then it won’t let me see mileage flights… confused! Thanks in advance!

    • So you want to use your United miles to book a flight operated by Singapore Airlines? Sorry, just not sure what exactly you’re looking to do here. What airline’s plane do you want to fly on and from/to where?

      • I don’t know! I guess I want to understand how it works! Above it says under “Airline Sweet Spots” that “Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer – Flights with partner United at better rates than MileagePlus”.

        So my question is: Do I book this through the United website, logged into my mileage plus acct? Or do I book it under the Singapore website logged in as a member of that (it that Kris Flier?)? If so, I will need to create a Singapore account. Once I do that, do I transfer United points to Kris Flier, or do I book and say I have United points to spend?

        I also have an American Express Platinum Card and a Chase Ink Card that have lots of points on them, in addition to the 250,000 miles on United. I am trying to figure out the best way to book a mileage flight that uses the least amount of points… I am new to this (I usually just book direct with United) and so am still a little confused!

        Thanks! ~Jen

        • Jen, this sweet spot is: Redeeming miles in the Singapore Krisflyer program for flights on United. You book by calling Singapore Air (

          You cannot transfer United miles to Singapore, nor can you transfer Singapore miles to United miles — however, you can use Singapore miles to book United-operated flights?

          The currencies aren’t interchangeable, but the currencies can be used to book flights on one another’s aircraft.

          The big caveat to all of this is that when you use United miles to book United flights you have more options available than if you use Singapore miles to book United flights. This is simply because airlines allow members in their own program to have access to more seats then their partners.

          If you see a “Saver” seat available on, you should be able to book that seat with Singapore miles. So you’d search, find the flights and then call up Singapore and feed them the information on the flights.

          Make sense? Sorta?

  • Hi Howie,

    I’m in the process of racking up ultimate points that can be transferred to any number of Chase partners. I was thinking that I would hoard the points and then transfer the miles based on where we can get the most bang for the buck.

    We are considering using the points for a trip from North America to Africa. Any thoughts as to the provider that should be used for that purpose?

    I’m sure it depends on the carrier, availability and travel plans, but it appears that it takes fewer miles to do it in one shot, rather than to break it up into individual segments. Would love to get some guidance.

  • Jenn Stapleton says:

    Love to see all the comparisons… Will help me decide where to transfer my points.

  • david shapiro says:

    Hi Howard,
    Can you please help guide me on a few programs fine print
    1. Carlson Hotels. if i have expiring points, how can i can keep them active. Transfer in or out from credit card or airlines , or buy miles direct or thru ? Will all existing miles stay active?
    2. Aeroplan – same question as above.
    Many thanks for your help

  • Maybe also worth looking at this topic the other way around: which credit card has the lowest annual fee and gives most awards in whatever program?

  • Hi Howie – Will you do a sweet spot update any time soon ? Thanks

  • I just joined AwardWallet yesterday, and I’m very satisfied with the platform and the wealth of information provided. I’ve been on a travel miles/points hacking information binge.

    Thank You!

  • I’m back living in Ireland after 8+ years in the US and it’s been a pain seeing a lot of my reward miles and points sitting there (some getting close to expiration), particularly with the airlines and hotels that only operate within the US, I’m constantly looking for deals to fly back to America just to use some of them up before they expire!

  • Very useful reference…thanks!

  • AwardWallet is awesome!! I can fly business many times now with low miles!!

  • Ravi Grover says:

    Very valuable. I have both the SPG and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, but it’s always tough to figure out where to transfer points to for a particular destination. This will be helpful for planning my next award trip, thanks!

  • Wow, learn something new every day…I had no idea Alaska allowed trans-Pacific routing to Africa on Cathay. Bookmarked.

  • Hi Howie:
    A little off topic – do you know of anyone in the blog-o-sphere who has visited the Falklands. I have been considering a trip there with a couple day excursion to view the Emperor Penguins. Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

    • Bill, to be honest, I don’t know. My suggestion would be Insideflyer, Flyertalk, and perhaps Fodors/Frommers/TripAdvisor for some research.

    • We visited the Falklands on a cruise. Where are you expecting to see the Emporer Penguins?

    • Mara D Rice says:

      We’ve been to Falkland islands.

      • Bill Usher says:

        Mara: Would love to know about your trip to the Falklands. Was it part of a tour etc?
        Any info is most welcome.

        • Hi Bill – our trip was a part of Celebrity Cruise to Antarctica. It was an incredible trip which included an awesome day in the Falkland Islands!

    • We were there in February as part of a cruise from Buenos Aires to Valparaiso. In one word, feh. Truth be told, the weather was lousy so some of the sites we went to were virtually impossible to see or appreciate. Yes, it was quaint. yes, it was somewhat interesting to learn of the history, most of which related to the British takeover and defense. But we could have easily passed this one up. Would have rather spent the day on the ship!

    • Yes, we visited the Falklands as part of a South American cruise. It was a real treat to see the penguins up close. You are able to wander among them at the designated distance but it is pretty close. Don’t miss the chance to see them.
      There was question as to whether our ship would be granted access to the harbor as part of the ongoing spat between the Falklands and Argentina. As I understand it, this is ongoing since the Falkland war in the 1980s. Never a question of security though.

  • It was a pleasure to have met you in Chicago. Thanks for this “one stop shop” for sweet spots. I’m definitely bookmarking this.