Travel Tips

How to compare and book reward flights?

You may be thinking what are the possibilities with all the points you’ve either collected or might collect if you decided to put your expenses on point earning cards. For your ease of understanding, I’ve gone through some partnership programs and selected a few itineraries to showcase the redemption rates.

This article is in continuation of Basics Explained: Points and Miles

Set 1: American Airlines flight bookings

I had to be in Chicago on short notice (two days prior) and when I looked up ticket prices from Texas to Illinois, I was shocked to see the round-trip costed $793. Luckily, I could compare point redemption for an American Airline flight between Dallas and Chicago for 25,000 miles + $86.20 in taxes (12,500 points each way).

This redemption would’ve given me a 3.17 CPP valuation + $86.20 in fees.

[ ( $793/ 25000 ) x 100 ]

This still seemed a lot to me, so I decided to check AA’s One World partner airline British Airways in the hopes to use Avios to book a flight. I was luck as I found the same flights for 15,000 Avios + $11.20 in taxes (7500 Avios + $5.60 per way).

This redemption would’ve given me a 5.28 CPP valuation + $11.20 in fees.

[ ( $793 / 15000 ) x 100 ]

Hence you can see how by transferring Avios from my AMEX Membership Rewards account at a 1:1 ratio OR from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1.3 (offer valid till June 16, 2019) I could’ve booked a lot cheaper ticket.

Set 2: United Airlines flight bookings

As another example, United flights between Houston, US and Tokyo, Japan costing $1803 (economy) round-trip were available for redemption on United’s website for 70,000 miles + $55.13 in taxes/fees.

This redemption would’ve had a 2.57 CPP valuation + $55.13 in fees.

[ ( $1803 / 70,000 ) x 100 ]

But when I go an check on ANA’s website (a Star Alliance member just a United), it costed 50,000 miles + $264.33 in fees/taxes.

This redemption would’ve had a 3.60 CPP valuation + $264.33 in fees.

[ ( $1803 / 50,000 ) x 100 ]

Here, you can directly transfer points from Chase UR to United directly or AMEX MR to ANA directly both at a 1:1 ratio. The final decision will come down to where you have more points and which ones are more valuable to you.

Do your own research

My final bit of advice is to spend sometime in understanding the various partnership systems to realize which award tickets are fixed rate and which ones are flexible (change with demand/supply and timing). Some flights will open up early with limited availability while some pop up last minute incase the flight is not full.

If you are unable to find seats online, best way to proceed is to call up customer care and try to book online. Booking fees will be waived if you tell them you were unable to find tickets online – as long as they were able to pull up tickets for you,

Check out cards that earn points such as: Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Preferred and Reserve; AMEX Gold Card.

7 comments on “How to compare and book reward flights?

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