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We regularly publish deals on buying points and miles at a discount. While it isn't usually your best bet for earning a lot of points and miles (you should focus on earning credit card sign-up bonuses instead), buying points can make sense in some situations. If you've decided to buy points or miles for an upcoming redemption, what credit card should you use?
That answer varies depending on which website you're using to buy points and miles. The way the purchase codes on your credit card varies, and you'll want to know how the purchase codes to maximize your earnings.
Here's a closer look at the best credit cards for buying points and miles.
- Understanding Purchases and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs)
- The Best Credit Cards to Buy Points and Miles
- Other Options to Consider Before Buying Miles
- Earn More on Your Purchase with Shopping Portals
- Final Thoughts
Understanding Purchases and Merchant Category Codes (MCCs)
When making a purchase, it matters less exactly who you buy from and matters more how the purchase codes on your credit card statement. You can use AwardWallet's Merchant Category Code lookup tool to check purchases in advance. For example, you can see if a particular merchant will code as a “restaurant” — which is a bonus category on many credit cards.
In our present situation, we want to know how it will appear on your credit card if you buy points and miles.
The Best Credit Cards to Buy Points and Miles
Here's a look at what credit card you should use to buy points or miles for your redemption, based on what you're buying.
Buying from Points.com
Many rewards programs don't sell points directly. Instead, they use Points.com to process mileage sales. For example, when buying Alaska Airlines miles, your credit card won't see this as a purchase from Alaska Airlines. That means your purchase won't code as “airfare” or “travel” on credit cards that have travel as a bonus category.
The following programs use Points.com to sell their points and miles. If there is a link on the program name, clicking on it will take you our guide to the program's latest deal to buy those points and miles with a discount or bonus.
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air Europa SUMA
- Air France/KLM Flying Blue
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- British Airways Executive Club
- Caribbean Airlines Caribbean Miles
- Copa Airlines ConnectMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Ethiopian Airlines ShebaMiles
- Etihad Guest
- EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
- Finnair Plus
- Frontier Miles
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Plus
- Icelandair Saga Club
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- LATAM Pass
- Lufthansa Miles & More
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Radisson Rewards
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Rapid Rewards
- Spirit Airlines Free Spirit
- Turkish Airlines Miles& Smiles
- United Airlines MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Virgin Red
- WestJet Rewards
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton Honors
- IHG One Rewards
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Melia Rewards
- Radisson Rewards
- Shangri-La Golden Circle
- World of Hyatt
- Wyndham Rewards
In case it's not clear, that's most programs you might buy points or miles from. Only a few airlines sell miles directly.
Buying from the Reward Program Directly
While most programs sell their points and miles via Points.com, a few let you buy directly from the mileage program. These include:
Which Credit Card to Use to Buy Points and Miles
If you're buying from Points.com, these purchases won't code as travel. You should use one of these credit cards:
- Any credit card where you're working on a sign-up bonus. These are the best welcome offers available right now.
- Any credit card with perks you can unlock from spending, such as hotel free night awards, hotel elite status, or airline elite status.
- Your best credit card for everyday spending, such as the Citi® Double Cash Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
If your purchase will code as airfare purchased from the airline directly, use these credit cards for their bonus earnings:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express — 5X earnings on up to $500,000 of flights purchased from airlines or Amex Travel annually (then 1X)
- Citi Prestige® Card — 5X without limits
- American Express® Gold Card — 3X without limits
- American Express® Green Card — 3X without limits
- Citi Premier® Card — 3X without limits
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® — 3X without limits once you've used the annual $300 travel credit
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — 3X on the first $150,000 spent in bonus categories annually (then 1X)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card — 2X without limits
Exceptions Where You Might Still Earn a Bonus
Although Points.com processes many points and miles sales, you might still be able to earn bonus miles on a mileage purchase.
One example is Southwest Rapid Rewards purchases. If you pay with a Southwest Airlines credit card and choose that option in the drop-down menu, you can earn the bonus multiplier your card provides for Southwest purchases.
Other Options to Consider Before Buying Miles
Before you pull out your credit card to buy points, consider your other options. You might be surprised to find that you don't really need to buy points or miles. Perhaps that program has transfer partners you could use to move points and miles into your account. Check out the AwardWallet Transfer Partners Tool for all of your options.
Alternatively, could you earn a credit card sign-up bonus with that program or one of its transfer partners, then make your redemption? Obviously, this requires some time, and award space could disappear while you wait. If time isn't an issue, though, this is a good option.
Earn More on Your Purchase with Shopping Portals
Whenever you shop online, you should use shopping portals. By adding just a few clicks before paying, you could add hundreds or thousands of extra points and miles to your purchase — on top of the points you're buying and what you earn from your credit card.
Points.com purchases typically aren't eligible for these bonuses. However, if you're buying directly from the rewards program, make sure to use a shopping portal to add extra earnings.
If you've decided to buy points or miles, using the right credit card makes a difference and can lead to big returns on your purchase. Adding a shopping portal can multiply those earnings further. However, you need to know who is selling you the points and miles — the rewards program itself or Points.com? That will dictate which card to use at checkout.
Before making a large purchase, it's always a good idea to make a small purchase first. See how that codes on your credit to ensure you're earning as expected and adjust if needed.
How often do you buy points and miles? What strategies do you use to maximize your earnings on these purchases?
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