Or, consider other cards for 50,000 more miles or points that transfer into United miles with additional flexibility for your everyday spending.
Reward nights start at 10,000 points. Free anniversary night (no points needed) good at any IHG hotel (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, more).
$1,000 toward travel or transfer to United, Southwest, and more.
We are frequent flyers who think carefully before we redeem our miles. These are a sampling of the rewards savvy frequent flyes save and search for because of the bargains they offer…and some aren’t nearly as hard to achieve as you’d think for even light travelers.
1. Great hotels for better than Priceline prices
Starwood is the program for Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, St. Regis, Four Points, and Aloft hotels. Most of their hotels let you book nights for a combination of cash and points at attractive levels using their ‘Cash and Points’ feature. A typical $150 per night hotel can be had for just 2,800 points and $45 per night — a cash return on your points of 4% or more. These low point requirements mean if you don’t travel a lot and depend on your credit card to earn points these are easily within reach, unlike airline miles rewards that can cost 25,000 miles or more.
We always like to keep Starwood points on hand for these rewards as they can even be booked last minute, and as long as you cancel before the hotel’s policy (usually 24 hours prior to arrival) there are no change or refund fees. The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express is the only credit card which lets you earn Starwood points.
2. Lowest mileage requirements for some great premium flights
You’ll be surprised to learn transfering your points into a Japanese airline’s mileage program is one of the best deals in miles and points. ANA is one of Asia’s largest airlines, and participates in the Star Alliance, which means miles from an ANA account can be used to fly on United, Continental, US Airways, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and more below.
ANA uses a distance based reward chart which gives you some unique lower cost opportunities to redeem for flights on any of the airlines above.
– East Coast to most of Europe in business class for 68,000 miles on partners Continental, US Airways, or Virgin Atlantic (vs 100,000 miles via most other programs). See the chart below, but as long as your roundtrip is less than 9,000 miles you can use the 68,000 mile rate for a business class ticket.
– West Coast to Asia for 90,000 miles in business class versus 100-125,000 miles using usual US carrier programs
– 14-17,000 miles roundtrip for quick hops of a distance of less than 800 miles each way (like LA-Vegas/San Fran, SF-Portland, LA-Phoenix, Miami-Atlanta, NY-Montreal, NY- Raleigh).
Remember — you don’t need to fly on ANA for these rewards — you can use the miles to travel on any of the partners listed above. See below for the miles required for each roundtrip distance. To redeem, you need to create a free account online with fly-ana.com then transfer your miles from a program that lets you transfer into ANA. The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and American Express Gold and Platinum cards each let you transfer points directly to ANA at 1:1 rates with no dilution or fees.
|Total roundtrip itinerary distance
(the sum of all basic flight segment mileages)
|Economy class||Business class||First class|
3. British Airways Avios for short American Airlines nonstop flights
You can use British Airways Avios for any American Airlines flight that has ‘Low’ award availability for its own members, which you can search on AA.com. The Avios award program charges based on the number of miles flown on award flights, rather than a single amount for an entire zone. So, short non stop flights tend to cost much less than the traditional zone format. You can take flights of 600 miles or less for 9,000 miles roundtrip, 4,500 one way with few taxes or fees. That compares to 25,000 miles for the same trip using American Airlines miles.
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