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The CURewards flight award chart and where to find value

by on Thu January 29, 2015 • 12 Comments


CURewards is a reward program that a lot of credit unions use to power their point earning credit cards.

It lets you book flights using a regional award chart that charges a single price in points depending on which region you’re flying to. There are no blackout dates and you can book a flight of any price, as long as the ‘fare code’ CURewards requires is available and you’re booking 21 days in advance.

The ‘fare codes’ CURewards specifies aren’t the very lowest fare classes, which is good news.

For example, on United you must book in S or W class,  Delta you must book in T or U class, and American in O or S class for domestic, and Q or N for international.

They’re actually pretty widely available on all but the most busy flights.

That means you can get a lot of leverage out of the points if you book tickets for flights that are otherwise expensive.

Here is the CURewards award chart for roundtrip flights:

 US 48  25,000
 Canada  30,000
 Hawaii (from CA/NV)  40,500
 Bahamas  50,000
 Caribbean  50,000
 Mexico  50,000
 Bermuda  52,000
 Central America  57,500
 Alaska  58,000
 Hawaii (from other States)  59,000
 Europe  79,000
 Middle East  91,500
 South America  94,000
 Asia  95,000
 Australia/New Zealand  125,000
 Hawaii(Inter-island one way)  8,500
 Hawaii (inter-island roundtrip)  14,500


We like to find points that give you 2 cents or more in value, and it’s possible to find some good deals with CURewards like…

San Francisco to London in the Summer: $1,717 cash for 79,000 points (2.2 cents per point in value)


New York to Vail in March: $741 cash for 25,000 points (3.0 cents per point in value)


But for other places it’s hard to find great value.

For example, flights to the Caribbean require 50,000 points, so you’d need to find a $1,000 airfare to get more than 2 cents in value, which is tough to come across.

Asia is prohibitively expensive at 95,000 points (most airline programs let you get there for 80,000 miles or less), while Australia / New Zealand is far-fetched at 125,000 points.

Want to earn CURewards?

logo-2xIf you tend to fly once or twice a year on vacation at the most popular times (like ski towns in the Winter, Europe during the summer) you could get really good value out of CURewards.

Lots of credit unions offer cards that earn CURewards, but one of the best is the Consumers Credit Union Visa Signature Rewards Card.

It offers unlimited 3x points on Grocery and Convenience store purchases and 2x points on gas.

Anyone can join Consumers Credit Union – you just need to make a one-time Membership fee of $5 to the Consumers Cooperative Association.

So it wouldn’t be impossible to earn 3-5% rewards on your total spending thanks to the category bonuses and leverage to get 2% or better value from your redemptions.



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12 thoughts on The CURewards flight award chart and where to find value

  1. George W Hendren Jr

    Can I use my points, that I have accrued at this time for air fair to Hawaii, and when do I have to make the reservation


      @George – If you have enough points in your account (40,500 from CA/NV, 59,000 from other states) then yes. Make the reservation whenever you’d like as long as it’s more than 21 days before the flight.

  2. John

    Is there any value in any of the hotel certificate redemptions, like Hyatt? The CU Rewards rep I called said that I could access the number of points needed without having an actual credit card.

  3. Brandon

    How strict are they about it being a round trip, when it comes to cities with multiple airports? Can I do ATL-SFO and then OAK-ATL, or BHM-LGA and then JFK-BHM? Also, am I allowed to take Delta on the way there and American on the way back, or does it have to be the same airline for the whole trip? Lastly, where can I view the list of required fare codes for all airlines?

  4. Brett

    Do you earn frequent flyer miles for travel booked through the credit union? Also, the terms & conditions of the program indicate that they get to choose the routing and airline. Is this true in practice?

      1. HoKo

        Whoa, wait a second, that’s a critical piece of info that completely changes the value proposition. At the beginning of the blog post you said “There are no blackout dates and you can book a flight of any price, as long as the ‘fare code’ CURewards requires is available and you’re booking 21 days in advance.”

        But it sounds like that actually isn’t true. If you’re limited to the lowest priced trip that Montrose Travel finds then that means there numerous drawbacks. There’s probably others I’m not thinking of but off the top of my head here’s a couple

        1. If you want to fly nonstop but there is a cheaper connecting routing then you’d be forced to take the connection
        2. If you need to leave at a certain time of day but there is a cheaper flight at a different time of day then you’re forced to fly at whatever time of day is cheapest

        Is that accurate? If so, I don’t think this card is worth it. Would be such a PITA trying to get a good CPM while also dealing with the limitations around needing to fly the cheapest priced flights.


          @HoKo – They language they use is the most ‘direct’ routing. So basically the cheapest among the shortest flights.

          The value here isn’t so much in gaming for an airline, but in being able to get awards for a reasonable price when award prices using traditional miles are high and you’re not flexible on dates, like for example peak summer months to Europe with only one specific week you can take off for vacation.


      @Adam – It’s coach class only. First class only via the ‘unrestricted’ redemption which is a basic penny per mile format.


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