You’ve decided Travel Hacking is for you. You’ve signed up for a credit card or two (or more). Now you’ve accumulated a sign up bonus or two. You also earned those points and miles with the minimum spending requirements. The time has come to go about redeeming credit card travel points. This is what’s going to save you money on travel.
People often feel intimidated about how to go about doing this. It doesn’t have to be overly complicated. You may remember when I suggested starting with a Destination in Mind. This makes it easier because you’ll likely have a flight or other transportation as well as a hotel, or other accommodation to work with.
Let’s start with Fixed Value Points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards Points and Citi ThankYou Rewards Points. With all of these types of points, you can go to the website for each bank and log in to your account to redeem points within a travel portal already set up there. You can search for flights, rental cars, hotels and sometimes sightseeing and other experiences “on the ground” at your destination. It’s a fairly straight forward process to use your points to directly “pay” for part or all of your travel in the travel portal.
Depending on the type of points, you will get a value of one to one point five cents per point spent. This is one of the easiest ways to redeem your points. Note that you may not always get the best value per redeemed point. I’ll talk more about that in a little bit.
Capital One Venture Miles work like Fixed Value points but the method for redemption is different. In this case, you must use your Capital One Venture Miles earning credit card to pay for travel related expenses first. Then, any time within 90 days after the purchase, you can log in to your Capital One account and use the “purchase eraser” to wipe out the travel expense. You’ll get a value of one cent per mile used.
The beauty of this type of point is that you can use it for anything that codes as travel. Some examples are Airbnb, train and bus tickets, Uber Lyft and Taxis as well as incidental charges at most hotels. Again, as long as the particular purchase codes as travel, you can erase it with Capital One Venture Miles.
With all of the above Fixed Value Points/Miles, there are ways to transfer your points/miles to Airline and or Hotel Partners where you can often get more value than one to one point five cents per point/mile redeemed. This is where it gets exciting. Last summer I got incredible value of 10.48 cents per point out of my Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on my business class flight to Norway.
Here’s how I did it. In order to achieve that value, I utilized one of Chase’s many airline transfer partners, United Airlines. I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase portal, to my United Airlines Miles account. You need to have a loyalty account with the transfer partner and link it to your Chase or other Fixed Value Point program prior to making the transfer of points. In this case, I checked the United Airlines website first to look for availability of a business class flight to Oslo. I chose to book one way at a time as I wanted to use my American Airlines Miles for the return flight.
I found that United Airlines had business class availability for the date I wanted to travel. The cost if paid out of pocket would have been over $7,375 including taxes. If I were to book that United flight in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal at 1.25 cents per point, it would have cost me over 921,875 points! By transferring Chase Points to United it only cost me 70,000 points plus about $42 in taxes.
The points transfer usually takes a minute or two to go through from the Chase portal. Once the points showed up in my United account, I booked the flight on the United Airlines website. Business and First Class flights are a sweet spot in points redemption for sure. Another advantage of transfer partners is that you don’t necessarily need to have a single point in the transfer partner’s loyalty program or have ever flown before on that Airline to book with points on that Airline.
I didn’t actually fly on United but rather on Lufthansa. Lufthansa is a partner airline of United in the Star Alliance. Airline alliances allow you to fly on partner airlines. I booked on the United website and it showed as a Lufthansa flight. The Lufthansa business class seat converts to a luxurious lie flat bed. This really enhanced my experience!
Here’s a another example that is more typical for me when it comes to redemption. I like to fly on Southwest Airlines for many reasons one of which is that they don’t charge a fee if I cancel a flight that I’ve booked. I love the flexibility. However, I typically don’t have any Southwest Rapid Rewards Miles in my Southwest Airlines account. I don’t earn any miles in actually flying. Here again, I transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest and then book the flight on the Southwest app or website. I typically get a value of 1.6 cents per point on these bookings.
Capital One recently added transfer partner airlines but beware that the Capital One Venture Miles often don’t transfer on a one to one basis. Check carefully before transferring to one of their partners to make sure you get the value you’re after.
You can also transfer Fixed Value Points to Hotel transfer partners. The process is the same as with Airline partners. Again, make sure you’ve joined the particular hotel chain’s loyalty program and have linked it in your Fixed Value Points bank portal. I always recommend checking the cash price on the Hotel website/app and in the redemption portal for whatever Fixed Value Point you intend to use. Compare the value per point before deciding whether or not to transfer points.
One important thing to note is that once you transfer points to a travel partner, you will not be able transfer those points back if you change your mind.
If all of the above makes your head spin, please reach out to me via the contact form. I’ll be happy to help you plan and execute your points and mile redemption so you can travel for pennies on the dollar like I do.
Have you redeemed any of your points and miles? Tell us how you did it and how much money you saved by scrolling down and leaving a comment below.