Once a year Charlene and I load up and take a few weeks to go visit family. Visiting family is a luxury that we can enjoy because of years of building a whole spectrum of geezer travel tools.
This years trip started with a flight from Orlando to Denver. After about an hour of research we found economy round trip flights on American Airlines for 12,266 Chase Ultimate Reward Points per ticket. Our total for both round trip tickets was 24,532 Chase points. If we would have used American Airlines air miles we would have spent a total of 50,000 AA miles for the same flight. As we have mentioned in the past it’s not just about earning points it’s also about using them wisely.
A good rule of thumb is: If you are flying into an airline hub you will probably get a discount on your flights if you use point for dollar conversion options to purchase your tickets, but if you are flying into a regional airport the best deal may be paying with actual airline miles.
Charlene and I often fly into small air ports like Rapid City. Because Rapid City is a small regional air port the tickets are often very expensive. To the left is the google.com/flights calendar representing the cost of flights to Denver in April from Orlando. To the right is the calendar representing the cost of flights to Rapid City. As you can see the small regional air port is much more expensive. The cheapest flight from Orlando to Denver is $123. The cheapest flight from Orlando into Rapid is $414.
Because credit cards that offer point for dollar conversions like Chase Rewards, Citi Rewards and American Express Rewards are based on the price of the ticket your going to be able to get great deals using those “points” to purchase tickets to hubs like Denver but will be paying 3 or 4 times as many points to fly to regional air ports like Rapid City.
Chase offers flights at 1 point for every 1.25 cents of ticket price. Using this advantage we bought our tickets to Denver. The original flight cost for our tickets to Denver was $157 per ticket or 12,532 Chase Points ($157 / 1.25 = 12532 Chase Points). Credit card rewards like Chase Rewards, Citi Rewards and American Express Rewards all offer similar point to dollar conversions.
On the other hand most air miles are designated by “segments”. As an example all of the economy reward flights in the continental United States with American Airlines are 25,000 AA air miles. So the flights from Orlando to Denver or Rapid City will both be 25,000 AA air miles. As you can see flying to a hub like Denver you might only use 12,532 points compared to 25,000 miles. On the other hand flying to a small regional air port like rapid the 25,000 miles is a much better deal because that flight will cost you 33,320 Chase reward points ( $414 / 1.25 = 33,320 Chase reward points).
In closing, credit card rewards like Chase Rewards, Citi Rewards and American Express Rewards all offer the option of air miles transfers or point for dollar ticket purchases. If you’re flying into a hub airport the point for dollar option will usually be your best bargain but if you’re flying into a regional airport consider transferring your travel reward points into air miles.
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