Lesson 1: 

Maximize the value of your points

On the surface it may seem like every rewards program earns at the same rate of roughly 1 point per penny of spend, so that must mean that every point or mile is worth 1 cent, right? WRONG.

Points and miles vary in value

Advertiser disclosure

Some of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which allwaysaway.com receives compensation if you are approved. Compensation impacts banner placement, but does not impact the articles posted on allwaysaway.com. This site does not include all credit card offers available in the marketplace.

What’s a transfer partner and why is it better?

American Express, Capital One, Chase & Citi premium travel cards have multiple hotel and airline partners connected to their respective rewards programs (Membership Rewards, Rewards Miles, Ultimate Rewards & ThankYou Points).

Despite having different names, they’re all much closer in value to another than airlines or hotels will be. More importantly, they give you flexibility and options when booking rewards. Flexibility is useful when booking travel during peak times. Instead of committing to a single airline or hotel, you can choose a route or a room based on availability and current offers.

Let’s explore transfer partners

Below is a chart showcasing transfer partners across the top card brands. As you can see there are various ways to get to some partners while others are exclusive to a specific financial institution. Once you complete this course I’ll share a link to this sheet, which you’re welcome to make a copy of so you can highlight eligible partners based on your credit cards.

Flexibility is key here. For most of us, it’s better to have points that can go to various partners instead of being locked into one. That said, you should consider signing up for a specific partner card if you have a significant and consistent spend with that airline or hotel chain and you have no choice but to continue using that airline or hotel. Outside of that edge case, you should accrue generic points and transfer them if and only if you’re ready to redeem them.

🔑 To be crystal clear, desirable points will come from cards like the Amex Platinum or Gold, Capital One Venture cards, Chase Sapphire cards, or the Citi Premier card. Whereas co-branded cards from hotel chains or airlines will accrue specific points that aren’t as easily transferable, and thus not as valuable for someone who is getting started. Another note is that most retail co-branded cards are not worth it, since their intro bonus is just a coupon for your first purchase.

Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavillion, Kyoto, Japan

Making the most of your points Tomorrow we’ll talk through my strategy to optimize spend and accrue points quickly. Before we get there, let’s talk about maximizing the value of each point. There are three aspects to keep in mind.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners

🍬 Sweet Spotlight: ANA First or Business Class (US → Japan)

Business and first class tickets are always exciting, but I find the Asian and Middle Eastern airlines truly excel in creating a world class flight experience. The most memorable flight I ever took was a first class route from Los Angeles to Tokyo on a flight where I happened to be the only passenger in the first class cabin. The cabin crew went above and beyond to make me feel special, especially after I shared with them that it was my first time riding in the front. While it will be difficult to recreate that, every moment was savored and despite having a lay flat seat, I couldn’t sleep a wink out of pure excitement.

The Deal

Through Virgin Atlantic, you can book an ANA First class flight for 110-120k points round trip or ANA Business class for 90-95k points. The first class flight from NYC retails for ~$25k, so this sweet spot yields an unfathomable $0.21 per point. Another joy of this deal is that it can now be booked as a one way, so you can be more flexible when searching for availability.

ANA First Class

But wait, there’s more

We got so excited about the sweet spot that we neglected to check if Virgin Atlantic has any transfer bonuses. A quick search shows that Amex is offering a 30% bonus, meaning every 1,000 points converts to 1,300 miles. Thus requiring only 93k points, bringing the value to $0.27 per point. Before you transfer your stash, note that the transfer bonus is only valid until 9/30/22 and finding ANA availability via Virgin for more than one person is VERY difficult, so couples and families beware. Solo travelers, click here to learn how to book this award.

If you’re set on going to Japan during a specific time frame, that deal isn’t for you. Instead I would simply transfer my miles to ANA directly and book Business Class through them. It’s not a $0.27 per point redemption on paper, but it’s still a world class experience that’s far more valuable than booking anything in your card’s travel portal or redeeming points for gift cards or cash back.

💳 Credit Card Review | Capital One Venture X®

At the end of each lesson I’ll review one of the marquee rewards cards. Let’s start with a newer entrant that won me over due to its simplicity and generosity when it comes to authorized users. Capital One’s Venture X card is as straightforward as a premium rewards card can be.

I cannot overstate how valuable the lounge access has been for me, and how nice it is to issue a card to my mother as an authorized user so she can have access to the lounges without having to worry about paying the annual fee or taking advantage of other benefits.

Learn more.

🍵 Spill the Tea

Was this issue helpful? If so, share it with your friends and family!

❤️ Love Notes

Great job – started from the top, now you’re here! A quick disclaimer, I’m not a financial advisor and this isn’t financial advice. This mini-course took hours to put together, special shout out to all who helped edit and those of you who choose to share it.

Editorial Disclosure

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of our partner offers may have expired.

🐰 Continue Down the Rabbit Hole?

Lesson 1 is in the bag. How about you try Lesson 2 on for size? Continue here

AWA | Lesson 2/3

🧭 Book a 1:1 Session

Book a free one on one consulting session here or email us at info.allwaysaway@gmail.com with questions and what you’re looking for and we can try to offer any suggestions. Obviously we’re not financial advisors and any advice should not be considered financial advice.