Many credit card companies provide reward points that can be redeemed for or applied to frequent flyer miles. The conversion process and rates will be determined by the terms of your credit card. However, if you use the right strategies, you can usually earn heavily discounted or free flights to any destination.
Part 1 Earning Credit Card Points
1. Examine the rewards programme of your current credit card. If you already have a credit card, check your card agreement or the website of your issuer to see if you have a points reward programme. This programme allows you to earn points for your purchases, which can then be redeemed for rewards such as cash back, gift cards, or frequent flyer miles. If you are unsure whether your card is eligible for this type of programme, contact your card issuer.
2. Look for a credit card that offers a frequent flyer mile reward programme. If your current card doesn’t offer point rewards or the ability to convert points to miles, you’ll need to get a new one. Almost all credit cards that offer points offer this type of reward, but some options are better than others. Look for credit cards that allow you to convert points to miles at a reasonable rate. For instance, the following reward programmes allow you to convert points to miles at a 1:1 ratio:
American Express Member Benefits All American Express cardholders have access to this.
Thank you, Citi. This feature is available on Citi Thank You cards and other credit cards.
Chase Ultimate Rewards is a loyalty programme. Sign up for a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus for Business card to gain access to this programme.
Other cards with a good transfer rate may be a better fit for your spending habits and financial situation. Before making a decision, look up terms for a variety of cards.
3. Make the most of any signup bonuses. Many credit cards offer signup bonuses that credit a large number of points to your rewards account right away if you meet a certain spending threshold within a certain time period. This can be a significant number of points in many cases, such as 50,000 or 100,000.
However, you should avoid simply spending to reach this limit because this may lead to overspending. Instead, ensure that the spending milestone corresponds to your normal spending patterns.
4. Purchase qualifying items. Points can only be earned by making qualifying purchases with your credit card. The qualifications for a qualified purchase differ between card issuers, so consult your card agreement to determine how you should use your card. Some point reward programmes, for example, offer a flat point rate for all purchases. Others, on the other hand, reward specific purchases, such as gas or entertainment, at a higher rate. Others may have a monthly rotating high rewards category.
Put qualifying purchases on your credit card whenever possible. This will allow you to earn points without having to change your spending habits.
5. Amass a sizable point balance. Even with signup bonuses and frequent credit card purchases, accruing points takes time. Many of the flights you’ll want to take after converting your points will cost you more than 30,000 miles. A trip to Europe from the United States, for example, could cost 50,000 to 60,000 points. This means you’ll have to put in the effort to build up a points balance before they’re truly useful.
Part 2 Determining Conversion Eligibility
1. Find out more about the reward programme. Call your credit card company’s customer service and ask for a copy of your points programme information. This information will also be available on the website of your card issuer. Typically, reward programmes differ. Different credit cards have different guidelines and restrictions, and you should be familiar with the details of the programme to which you belong.
Determine how you can convert your points specifically. While you may need to call, in many cases you can complete the entire process online.
2. Speak with a representative at your credit card company. Confirm or clarify any details about the reward programme that you are unclear about. Make sure you have all of the information you need to make an educated decision about how to best use your frequent flyer miles.
Inquire about any changes to the rewards programme, as these can occur without warning and may have an impact on your miles conversion.
3. Confirm the conversion rate of points to miles. This is determined by your credit card and the frequent flyer miles programme you choose. For example, on some credit cards, 1 point equals 1 mile. You will be eligible for 20,000 miles if you have 20,000 points. American Express rewards points are worth 750 Delta SkyMiles, while Citi rewards points are worth 1,000 Advantage miles.
Transfer your points to the frequent flyer programme with the highest conversion rate.
4. Determine whether your credit card points or frequent flier miles have an expiration date. Most points expire after a certain period of time if they are not used. You should convert your points to miles as soon as possible and use them before they expire. If your points are about to expire and you won’t be able to use them, consider donating them to a friend or family member. In most cases, you can also donate them to charity.
5. Examine your mile-conversion information. Keep an eye out for any restrictions or blackout dates that may be imposed on your miles. Some companies prohibit travel on specific days, times of year, or to specific destinations. Take note of any date, airline, or destination restrictions.
Part 3 Booking Your Flight
1. Create an online frequent flyer account with a credit card company-approved airline. Some companies require you to create a frequent flyer account, whereas others will apply a travel credit directly to your card account. Look into flight prices in miles as well. The cost of a flight can vary greatly between airlines, so shop around to find the best deal.
For example, one airline may offer a particular trip for 70,000 miles, whereas another may offer the same trip for 50,000 miles.
2. Make a plan. It could take weeks or months to convert your credit card points into frequent flyer miles that can be used to book a flight. However, some reward programmes allow you to convert points instantly, and many will do so within a week. Check the terms of your rewards programme or contact customer service to determine how much time you should set aside for this process.
Try booking during off-seasons for your destination to save money on your trip. Don’t try to fly to Mexico during the winter holidays, for example, because flights will be more expensive.
3. Make your flight reservation with an airline that has been approved by your credit card company. Not all airlines accept frequent flyer miles. Before booking your flight, double-check that your points have been converted and that you have received a travel credit.
You should also transfer miles to airlines with which you have previously transferred miles or flown. This allows you to accumulate miles with that airline and earn more rewards.
Miles can be redeemed on all airlines in the same alliance (a group of airlines). The following are the primary alliances:
United, US Airways, Swiss Air, Lufthansa, and others are members of the Star Alliance.
American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, and others are part of One World.
SkyTeam members include Delta, Air France, Korean Air, and others.
4. When booking a flight online, enter your frequent flyer account information. There is usually a field where you can enter your frequent flyer account number. Keep this information handy. If you have any problems booking using your rewards points, contact the airlines to speak with a representative. They will be able to assist you with the transaction.
Creative Commons License