After having snagged an amazing redemption earlier in 2022 for 160K points and under $50 on United, I would consider myself really lucky to another amazing deal for 2023 albeit with a few changes.
At the time of writing this article, I was planning to visit family around February’23 as weather tends to be nice and considered every option amongst various airlines and programs. Thanks to all the points I accumulated in the past year across various credit cards and airline partners, my options were thankfully broad – however my goal was to get the most value out of the least points.
I reviewed options from Qatar (using Avios), American Airlines, Singapore Airlines and British Airways (also Avios) but landed on United Airlines again which offered me the best value redemption for a roundtrip business class ticket.
Emirates was 235,000 Skywards miles + $490 in fees (I would have had to transfer from AMEX MR and it would’ve taken a maximum of 3 working days), American Airlines was 180,000 AA miles + $450 in fees (I only had 95K miles at the time) and Qatar was 340,000 Avios + $356 in fees (which I could transfer from Amex and/or Chase).
Why United Airlines?
At the time of writing this article, United was offering great flexibility in booking not only United flights but also Star Alliance partner flights like Turkish Airlines, ANA, Air India, etc… .
Now admittedly, days and redemption rates as well as availability keeps fluctuating so I certainly got lucky with my booking. I was able to snag India bound for 93.5K points and US bound for 85K points (total 178,500 United Miles) and $60 in taxes/fees.
Admittedly this is a mixed class seat where the first domestic leg is economy while the international leg is business – which I don’t mind because the domestic leg is only 1.5hrs. It is a worser redemption than my Feb’22 redemption for sure which was not only cheaper and costed fewer miles, but it was business in the domestic leg as well.
Alternate options: Seattle to Delhi for 178.5K miles and under $50 in fees
I was thankfully able to leverage my United Explorer card and Chase Sapphire Reserve (United is a Chase transfer partner) to earn enough points through daily expenses and bonus categories – to use for this booking . Having a United co-branded Credit card does provide a major benefit one of which being the cardholder receiving better rates than the general public. Sign up bonuses keep fluctuating but the benefits far outweigh the cost of keeping the card (annual fee ones).