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How To Travel With Points and Miles
June 9, 2023 By CityPASS
You may be considering applying for a travel rewards card and want to know how it works. Or perhaps you already have a shiny new card and are wondering how to use credit card points for travel. At first glance, the miles and travel points system can feel like learning a new language. But once you figure out how it works, you can sit back and enjoy the benefits.
Let's dissect the travel rewards system so that you can decide how to travel in style with miles and points.
How To Maximize Your Travel Points and Miles
You can use credit card rewards to get points and miles to help you cover some or all of your vacation costs. It all comes down to your personal needs and how you will spend your rewards. But what about how to earn travel points without a credit card?
First, you should sign up for the hotel chains you like to stay at and be a frequent flier with your favorite airline. You can earn many miles if you travel often; the same goes for hotel points. Let's review some ways to maximize your travel points and miles.
Be Strategic With the Travel Cards You Apply For
If you're starting with the points and miles system and looking to add travel reward credit cards to your wallet, then there are a few things you should consider before applying.
First, look for credit cards that offer welcome bonuses or don't have a hefty annual fee. Many credit cards offer a sign-on bonus, which will be a certain amount of points, miles, or even cash when you spend a specific amount of money within a certain period. Some are large and can be up to 100,000 or more points.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 80,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening the card. However, credit card companies change their deals, program terms, and welcome bonuses, so it is good to shop around.
Determine the Value of Your Rewards
You want to ensure you get the best value when you redeem points or miles. A straightforward calculation will help determine if you're getting a good deal. Sometimes, frequent flier programs will offer flash sale awards that can be a great deal. They also offer bonus miles through various partnerships. On average, travel miles and points are around one cent a piece. Therefore, 20,000 points should equal approximately $200 for hotel or flight costs.
Many airline programs offer dynamic award pricing. For example, they can offer sales on specific award travel flights with fewer miles or points than the cash value. The issue is that they can also raise the prices, so, during peak seasons, you'll typically see award prices much higher. However, you can sometimes catch a good deal if you stay on the lookout.
Identify Your Goal and What You Will Want To Redeem Your Points For
So, you have some travel points or miles and are ready to vacation somewhere. First, determine if you want to use your points for hotels or flights. Then you can look at your booking options and go for the best value.
For example, find the cash value of the flight you would like to take, then determine the value in points and compare to see which is a better deal.
Suppose you have Chase Ultimate Rewards and are considering transferring your points to an airline. First, determine which airline has an award ticket you think is fair. Then you can also check the Chase travel portal. Finally, you can determine which is the cheapest route and choose that one.
Figure out what your future travel purchases and goals will be. For example, do you want to travel during the holidays to meet family? Do you want to travel abroad two or three times a year? Ask yourself these questions to set clear goals and look for reward deals that meet your needs.
What Can Travel Points Typically Be Used For?
You have three different credit card reward options.
- Hotel points: Hotel points can be redeemed for room upgrades, nights, stays, and specific hotel services. Most hotel points can also be transferred to airline partners.
- Airline miles: Airline miles are redeemable for cabin upgrades, flights, unique experiences, dining expenses, and vacation packages. If you have an airline credit card with miles, you must redeem the miles through the airline or its loyalty rewards partners.
- Flexible travel points: Travel credit cards offer flexible travel points. Chase and American Express are two popular travel cards with membership rewards. Most of these points can easily be transferred to hotel and airline loyalty programs, giving you more choices for redeeming points.
Let's dive into the two main ways to use your travel points.
When you want to use your travel points for hotels, it's relatively simple. You can search for rooms through the hotel chain's website for reward programs. Somewhere on the website, you can find a "use points" choice. You may have to go through your credit card portal for some programs. How many points are needed should be listed somewhere under the hotel and date you choose.
So, how many travel points for a flight? You can book flights directly through the credit card portal with a travel rewards card. You can also use the website for whichever airline program you are using. The goal is to look for the flight that you want and see how many points it will cost you. Sometimes you may have to use a third-party portal through a link on the program's website.
Sometimes you can get a good deal when you transfer your points to a loyalty rewards program. Something else to consider when determining how to use your points or miles is that you will be responsible for the applicable taxes, so you want to include that in your budget.
Continue To Save With CityPASS® Tickets
Now that you know how to use your points and miles to get to your destination for less, you can save money once you get there. First, check to see if there are CityPASS® tickets for some of the attractions you want to visit.
CityPASS® tickets offer significant discounts on many of North America's best attractions and theme parks. Destinations include: