How to Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Akshay, writes:

I have my points and miles all over the place – 30,000 Delta miles, 35,000 American Airlines miles, and a few thousand with Frontier Airlines, Virgin America, and United Airlines.  What’s the best way to leverage them all to plan a trip?

In fact, I just got married and I’m planning a honeymoon.  Not sure where, but we’re open to any destination.

Congratulations on your marriage, Akshay!

How To Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

Where Can Akshay’s Miles Take Them for Their Honeymoon?

Akshay doesn’t have enough miles with any single airline to cover 2 round-trip tickets.  And you can’t combine miles between different airlines.

However, there are still ways to use the miles Akshay has to save money on their trip.

1.   2 Round-Trip Tickets Within the Continental US

Akshay can book 2 separate round-trip flights on different airlines to a romantic destination anywhere in the continental US.

A round-trip coach flight within the US costs 25,000 miles on American Airlines and Delta.  So Akshay has more than enough miles.

But keep in mind, it’s sometimes difficult to find award seats on Delta.

How To Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

Take 2 Separate Flights to New York (Or Anywhere Else in the US) and Together You Can Enjoy Romantic Walks Through Central Park, Broadway Shows, and More!

While it’s not the most romantic route, this could make a trip that you otherwise may not be able to take, possible.

2.   Buy 1 Ticket and Get 1 (Almost) Free

If taking different flights doesn’t interest you, you could use your American Airlines miles or Delta miles to book 1 award flight and pay for the other.

For example, if you travel to the Caribbean or Mexico between September 7th, and November 14th, you can book 1 round-trip coach flight for just 25,000 American Airlines miles.  Then pay for the 2nd ticket with cash.

How To Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

Fly From the US to Jamaica Or Other Caribbean Destinations for Half Price By Using Your Miles to Get 1 Flight Free

Another option is booking an off-peak award flight to Hawaii on American Airlines for 35,000 miles round-trip between January 12 and March 13.  Or August 22 and December 15.  And buying the 2nd ticket.

3.   Earn More Miles & Points

Or you may want to collect more miles and points to open up more options for your honeymoon.

I recommend folks set travel goals before they start earning miles.  That way you don’t wind up with airline miles that you’ll never use.

There are lots of ways to earn American Airlines miles.  And you can earn Delta miles with cards like the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Expresswhich currently has a limited-time sign-up bonus of 50,000 Delta miles after you complete the minimum spending.

How To Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

With More Miles & Points You Can Book the Honeymoon You’ve Always Dreamed Of!

But folks who aren’t certain of their travel plans will benefit from collecting flexible points.

You can earn AMEX Membership Rewards points with cards like:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Premier Rewards Gold Card From American ExpressThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
American Express® Mercedes-Benz PlatinumThe Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressThe Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
AMEX EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Blue from American Express® Note: These are the ONLY AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points that can NOT be transferred to airline & hotel programs. But you can use these points on the Membership Rewards website for other redemptions. Includes personal AND small business versions of the card.

Or with the following cards you can earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points:

Personal CardsBusiness Cards
Chase Sapphire ReserveChase Ink Plus
Chase Sapphire PreferredChase Ink Bold (No Longer Available to New Applicants)
Chase FreedomChase Ink Cash
Chase Freedom Unlimited
Chase Sapphire (No Longer Available to New Applicants)
Note: Points earned from the Chase Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink Cash cards can only be transferred to travel partners if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold card.

Stay for Free Too!

Link:   Hot Deals – Hotel Credit Cards

With hotel credit cards, you can earn points for a free hotel stay.  Check Award Mapper and Hotel Hustle to find hotels at your destination that you can book with points.

There are lots of was to earn points for free stays at hotel chains like Hilton and Hyatt.

How To Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

You Could Spend Your Honeymoon Kicking Back in the Pool at the Grand Wailea, Maui

You can also check out my post on how to decide where to stay in Hawaii using hotel points.

Bottom Line

If you want to book 2 round-trip award flights but don’t have enough points with a single airline, you can NOT combine miles from different airlines.

However, there may still be ways to make your trip work.  For instance, you could book 1 round-trip award flight and pay for the other, which will still save you a lot of money!

But if you spend time earning extra miles or flexible points like AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll have a lot more options.

Thanks for your question Akshay!  Enjoy your honeymoon!

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7 responses to “How to Use Miles When They Are Spread Across Different Airlines

  1. Wouldn’t it be better to buy two sets of one ways (one to your destination and one return) instead of two separate round trips on different airlines. That way you could travel together and don’t have to worry about irrops, etc.

  2. Agree with Phil. Two one ways would be a much more efficient solution to this person’s problem. Plus they could travel together the whole trip. Who wants to travel separately on their honeymoon?

  3. Yes, I also recommend two sets of one ways. We are doing that with a large group to Jamaica so that we can all fly together.

  4. I read “you could book 1 round-trip award flight and pay for the other” as I book one flight with miles and I buy the same flight off America/United/Delta, etc. Not that we are not flying together.

    Or they could book 2 one way tickets on American and 2 one ways on Delta for the way home. If they’ve got enough miles to do that sort of thing, which it doesn’t really sound like they have.

  5. @Karen, choice one is 2 separate round trip tickets flying separately. Also, if they have enough miles for 2 round trips then by definition they have enough for 4 one ways.

  6. How can Amex membership Rewards works with Chase Ultimate Reward? because Im planning to go to Milan in low season with my daughter and i need more miles for the round trip option. I have the Chase Freedom and Sapphire Preffered cards as well.Can any give me any recommendations to make this possible ? I want to learn how to get free nights with a hotel credit card. Any suggestions?

  7. how can I get the cheapest way to Israel and back?