Travel rewards can be an excellent way to save money when you use miles and points correctly. The average credit card rewards point is worth one cent. But some cards, such as business rewards credit cards, offer more bang for your buck. With these suggestions, your rewards points can be worth at least twice the value. Let’s take a look to see how.
Transfer Your Points to an Airline
Two of the most valuable travel rewards cards you can own are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Platinum Card from American Express. This is because you have the option to transfer your rewards points on a 1:1 basis to multiple airline and hotel travel programs. Your points can instantly double or triple in value when you transfer them to the right loyalty program.
Frequent flyer miles are usually more valuable than hotel rewards points. You should always try to redeem your reward miles when they are worth at least two cents each. For example, you only need 5,000 points for a $100 flight instead of 10,000 points.
Every airline has their own sweet spot with reward flights. You might find some of the best deals on discount airlines like Southwest Airlines (Chase transfer partner) and JetBlue (American Express transfer partner).
Book First Class Flights Instead
You need more points to book a first class or business class flight, but your points can be worth more than staying in economy class. Some of the best first class award flights can be found with these airlines:
Don’t forget that you can also book first class or business class on domestic airlines like United to also avoid the fuel surcharge fees.
Depending on which rewards credit card you have, it’s possible to transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to these airlines. Or, you can also book partner flights through an alliance member of a 1:1 transfer partner.
In some cases, you might have to call the customer service number to book the award flight by phone instead of online. But, if you want a world-class experience in the flight and airport lounge, international first class flights are one of the best ways to redeem your miles.
Avoid Fuel Surcharge on Long-Haul Flights
You might like to save your frequent flyer miles for long-distance flights. If you fly to Europe or Asia, you might have to pay a fuel surcharge even on award flights. To save some cash, redeem your points on the following airlines for long-haul flights:
- American Airlines
- Aer Lingus
Even if you don’t have award miles for one of the above airlines, you might be able to book partner flights through an alliance member to avoid the fuel surcharge too.
Once you arrive in Europe or Asia, you may want to fly between cities in the region. British Airways Avios are some of the most valuable points for short haul flights. You can book intra-Europe flights for 4,500 Avios to visit multiple countries and skip the steep fees that British Airways charges on their long-haul flights. Consider using an international travel credit card to save you even more.
Take Advantage of Free Hotel Night Certificates
Even if you only stay in a hotel one night a year, hotel rewards cards with free night certificates are one of the best travel deals. Most hotel nights cost at least $100 a night, while the credit card annual fee is less than $100. If you strategize, you can offset the annual fee by cashing in on a free night.
When you book a room that’s closer to the $200 or $300 nightly rate, this single benefit pays the annual fee. Plus, you can save you an extra $100 in the process. You can also enjoy a few special hotel perks and your loyalty points never expire (as long as your account is open).
One of the best hotel free night certificate options is the new World of Hyatt Credit Card. You have the chance to get two free hotel nights each year on top of Hyatt’s already generous rewards. The most expensive reward night only costs 30,000 points. Hyatt is also a 1:1 Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partner, so it’s even easier to maximize your rewards points.
Book Multi-Night Hotel Rewards Stays
When you plan on staying in a hotel for at least four nights, some hotels will give you a night free when you use rewards points for the entire stay. This benefit comes standard with some hotel loyalty programs, while others might require you to own their co-brand hotel rewards credit card.
Below are the multi-night rewards night policies of a few hotel loyalty programs:
- Hilton Honors: 5th night free if you have Hilton Honors Silver status or above
- IHG: 4th night free if you own the IHG Premier or IHG Traveler credit card
- Marriott: 5th night free for all Marriott Rewards members
If you don’t want to be locked into one hotel rewards program, the Citi Prestige automatically pays the nightly rate for every 4th night on a 4+ night hotel stay you pay with cash. You only have to pay the fees and taxes for the 4th night. Plus, you can use this benefit each week of the year if you choose.
Get 20 Percent Back on Hotel Purchases with the Capital One Venture Credit Card
While any credit card will book a hotel room, you might get the best deal with the Capital One Venture. Any room you book on Hotels.com with your Capital One Venture card will earn 10 points per $1 spent plus a credit to get your 11th Hotels.com night free.
Your other Venture purchases will earn 2 points per $1. You can redeem your Venture miles for travel statement credits or future award travel.
Pool Hilton Honors Points
If you’re traveling with a group, Hilton Honors has a cool feature to pool Hilton points with your family and friends. This can be an easy way to get the 5th night free or even pay with points instead of cash for a weekend trip.
You can also use your points for room upgrades, vacation packages, and all-inclusive resorts. Now that you don’t have to go solo in banking up your points for the ultimate Hilton stay, you can enjoy these memorable experiences sooner than ever.
As you can see, there are many ways to maximize your rewards points. The key is to analyze your spending habits to figure out where you’ll earn the most. Then, consider what matters most to you in regards of redemption. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have a perfect credit score to qualify. The key is to strategize.
Airline awards are usually more valuable than hotel rewards, but there are excellent redemption options for flights and nights. For the ultimate flexibility, get a travel rewards card with 1:1 transfer partners. That way, you can spend your points as you please to always get the best deal.
More from SmarterTravel:
- 7 Smart Reasons to Join a Hotel Rewards Program
- How to Choose the Best Travel Credit Card
- How to Hack Your Way to a Cheaper Airfare
Read more from Johnny Jet at JohnnyJet.com or follow him on Twitter @JohnnyJet.
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