Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Shortly after I married my wife, she taught me the importance of leveraging our money to buy groceries. She had her routine: Visit three different grocery stores to get the most value when purchasing our food. Now that I do our grocery shopping, I appreciate the lesson learned!
The miles & points we have accumulated through credit card spend carry a similar principle. We want to get the most value from them as possible! In this article, we will demonstrate an easy example of how to select the correct "grocery store" with your miles & points when redeeming for an Award Ticket.
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Leveraging Loyalty Programs
In the United States, you may be familiar with the big four: American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Although it is possible to get good value—sometimes even great—when redeeming an Award Ticket directly through their respective Loyalty Programs, an often overlooked way to get even better value is to redeem through one of their partners!
Southwest is an exception; Southwest is not part of any airline alliance (e.g. Star Alliance, oneworld, SkyTeam) nor do they have any partner airlines.
Let us know look at an example and compare three different Loyalty Programs: Alaska Mileage Plan™, American AAdvantage®, and British Airways Executive Club. All three are part of the oneworld airline alliance. In addition, we would look at the exact same one-way flight: Seattle, Washington (SEA) to Juneau, Alaska (JNU) in Business Class on June 15, 2022.
Did you know that Juneau is the capital of Alaska? Did you think it was Anchorage? Anchorage is the state's most populous city but Juneau has been the capital since 1906.
American AAdvantage®—Strike One
American Airlines makes it easy to redeem an Award Ticket through its website. When we view the aforementioned one-way itinerary—SEA to JNU on June 15, 2022, in Business Class, here is what we find:
30,000 AAdvantage® miles + $5.60 in fees is nothing to brag about. The itinerary shows the flight is operated by Alaska Airlines. This is a Saver Award which means it should be available to other oneworld Alliance partners. Let's now look at what Alaska Airlines' Mileage Plan™ will charge for this same flight.
Alaska Mileage Plan™—Strike Two
Alaska's Mileage Plan™ is a great Loyalty Plan with numerous ways to get oversized value when redeeming an Award Ticket. Let's see what they would charge for the same flight compared with American AAdvantage®:
Alaska's Mileage Plan™ charges 10,000 miles less than American AAdvantage® for the same flight! It is 20,000 Mileage Plan™ miles + $5.60. Before you pat yourself on the back, we'll now take a look at one more oneworld Alliance partner—British Airways.
British Airways Executive Club—Home Run!
British Airways Executive Club is a Loyalty Program that flies under the radar. It uses a distance-based Award Chart. Short-haul, nonstop routes flown by British Airways or one of its oneworld partners is where this program shines. Let's find out what they would charge for the same flight compared with American AAdvantage® and Alaska Mileage Plan™:
British Airways Executive Club charges fewer miles (Avios) than Alaska Mileage Plan™ charges its members for the same flight on their own metal! It is 16,500 miles (Avios) + $5.60. This is the better redemption of the three in terms of the number of miles required to redeem an Award Ticket. It is 13,500 miles less than American AAdvantage® and 3,500 miles less than Alaska Mileage Plan™.
"Learning how to leverage your miles & points takes you to the next level in your Award Travel journey."
Credit Cards to Earn British Airways Avios
Earning British Airways Avios is very easy to do. British Airways is a transfer partner of Chase, American Express, Capital One, and Marriott. They all transfer at a 1:1 point ratio except for Mariott. Mariott transfers at a rate of 3:1.
My favorite transfer partner is Chase; Ultimate Rewards® are very valuable in the Award Travel arena! In my opinion, the best credit card to get started within Award Travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The current welcome bonus is 60,000 Ultimate Rewards®! All points earned from this card can be transferred to British Airways. You can apply for this card here! If you would like to learn more about this credit card, please see the following post: Chase Sapphire Preferred—The Best Credit Card Just Got Better!
Another Ultimate Rewards®-earning card that can be transferred to British Airways is the Chase Freedom Flex℠. To learn more about the Chase Freedom Flex℠, see the following post: Chase Freedom Flex—A Remarkable No Annual Fee Card! You can also apply for this card here! Just keep in mind that you will need to have one premium Ultimate Rewards®-earning card (i.e. Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or the Chase Ink Business Preferred®) to transfer your points to British Airways.
A third Ultimate Rewards®-earning card that can be transferred to British Airways is the Chase Freedom Unlimited®. To learn more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, see the following post: Chase Freedom Unlimited—Don't Miss Out on This Card! You can apply for this card here! Just keep in mind that you will need to have one premium Ultimate Rewards®-earning card (i.e. Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, or the Chase Ink Business Preferred®) to transfer your points to British Airways.
Capital One has launched into the Award Travel space with 17 transfer partners—15 with a fixed 1:1 point transfer rate. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card provides an easy avenue to earn miles which can be transferred to British Airways. Currently, there is a welcome bonus of 60,000 miles. Another bright spot with this card is the unlimited 2X miles on non-bonus-category spending. To learn more about this card, see the following post: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card—Simple But Powerful! Also, you can apply for this card here!
Which card is better: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card? Find out in the following post: Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Calculate "Your" Credit Card Value
Everyone has their own "custom" spending habits. Therefore, selecting the right credit card is a personal decision. Wouldn't it be great if there was a "custom" calculator that generated a value based on your spending habits?
There is! AwardYourMiles has developed a Miles & Points Calculator. Select the credit card and enter the amount of money you spend on average per month in the corresponding category. It will calculate the following:
The monetary value of your first and second years using the credit card; and
The miles/ points generated from your spend.
AwardYourMiles has also developed a Credit Card Selector Calculator. It uses our proprietary algorithm which determines the best credit card in our database based on your spending habits. You will be able to determine the value of each credit card in your first year of use! Having more miles & points will improve your ability to leverage for an Award Ticket.
Travel has been transitory since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are planning to travel internationally, the following post will be helpful: International Travel—Five Things You Should Research First!
AwardYourMiles has created a COVID-19 Resources tool to help you search for the country you would like to visit. After you enter the country, links to dynamic travel guidance/ requirements will automatically populate. This will save you time and energy. We have also included all 50 states within the United States. Our goal is to help provide you with tools to help make your journey a success.
In addition, travel insurance is a hot topic right now. Learn more about how to decide what coverage to select in the following post: An Easy Guide to Travel Insurance for Your Next Vacation.
Finally, learn more about creating a COVID-19 vaccination digital record in the following post: COVID-19 Vaccination—How to Create a Digital Record.
Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant
Do you feel overwhelmed with all the options available when it comes to redeeming your miles & points? Would you like some assistance to get you started in the right direction? You will benefit from the services of a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. You will be assisted with regards to earning miles & points through credit card use and leveraging those miles & points for Award Travel. Or, feel free to use any of our Award Travel Tools online. Get started today!