Simple Strategy to Save Money on Airfare Expenses (GUARANTEED!)

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Simple Strategy to Save Money on Airfare Expenses (GUARANTEED!)

Million Mile SecretsSimple Strategy to Save Money on Airfare Expenses (GUARANTEED!)Million Mile Secrets Team

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According to a recent CNBC article, only 52% of travelers fully understand how to redeem miles from airline loyalty programs.

I completely understand why folks give up on this hobby (or never get started).  Because it can seem overwhelming with so many different airline award charts, credit cards, and frequent flyer programs.

But with little effort, there’s a simple way to save money on airfare.  The trick is to collect airline miles or credit card points you can use with no blackout dates.

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
Collect Southwest Points and ANY of These Seats Could Be Yours Because the Airline Has No Blackout Dates! There Are Plenty of Other Miles & Points You Can Collect to Have Similar Flexibility!

When it’s simple to use the rewards you earn, you’ll avoid lots of frustration and have the flexibility to travel when you want!  This is an especially useful strategy if you’re flying during peak travel dates (like holidays).

5 Best Credit Card & Frequent Flyer Programs to Avoid Blackout Dates!

Link:   Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points

The best miles or points to collect to save money on flights will depend on your departure city and airline preferences.  JetBlue points are great because the airline has no blackout dates for award flights.  But if JetBlue doesn’t have many flights from your home airport, collecting their points might not be best for your personal situation.

That said, when you collect miles or points with these 5 programs, you’re essentially guaranteed to save money on airfare.  Because you can use the miles or points to book airfare without worrying about blackout dates!

1.   Capital One

Card Name Sign-Up Bonus
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
50,000 Capital One Venture miles (worth $500 in travel) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business
50,000 Capital One Spark miles (worth $500 in travel) after you spend $4,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Capital One travel rewards cards are popular with lots of folks because their program is very straightforward.  It’s easy to earn AND redeem miles with their credit cards.

You can just pay for airfare (or other types of travel) with your Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business cards.  Then, you can “erase” the charge by redeeming your miles.

Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each.  This means 50,000 miles can save you $500 off flight costs!

I like that these cards have NO minimum redemption increment when redeeming miles, unless you’re using miles to partially pay for a travel purchase.  In that case, the minimum is 2,500 miles ($25).

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
Pay for Airfare With Your Capital One Venture or Capital One Spark Miles Card and Then Quickly Redeem Miles to Offset the Charge!

Even though Capital One miles are valuable, I typically recommend getting Chase cards first if you’re a beginner.  Because Chase makes it harder to earn their valuable new cardmember sign-up bonuses if you get lots of cards with other banks first.

2.   Chase Ultimate Rewards

Card Name Sign-Up Bonus
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
InkBusinessPreferred
80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $800 in cash back or $1,000 in travel) after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card


50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $500 in cash back or $625 in travel) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Chase Sapphire Reserve®

50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (worth $500 in cash back or $750 in travel) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite flexible rewards program.  You usually get the most value for your Chase points by transferring them directly to airline and hotel partners to book award travel.  But you also have the option to book airfare (plus hotels and rental cars) through the Chase travel portal.

Plus, when you book through the travel portal, you can use a combination of points and cash.  So if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire flight cost, you can still redeem the points you have to save money.

Keep in mind, when you use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book travel through Chase, your points are worth different rates depending on which card they’re tied to.  Here’s a handy chart as a reference:

Chase Ultimate Rewards CardHow Much Are Points Worth Toward Travel?
Chase Freedom1 cent
Chase Freedom Unlimited1 cent
Chase Sapphire (no longer available)1 cent
Chase Sapphire Preferred1.25 cents
Chase Sapphire Reserve1.5 cents
Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card1 cent
Chase Ink Bold (no longer available)1.25 cents
Chase Ink Plus (no longer available)1.25 cents
Chase Ink Business Preferred1.25 cents

If you have more than one of these cards, your points will be worth more when you move them to the card account with the highest redemption rate!

For example, Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders can move points from other cards to their Sapphire Reserve account to make all points worth 1.5 cents each.

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
When Booking Airfare Through the Chase Travel Portal, You’ll Get Access to Just About Every Airline. You Can Even Redeem Points for Comfortable JetBlue Mint Business Class Seats!

Remember, there are 4 low-cost airlines that do NOT show up on Chase’s travel portalSouthwest, Norwegian Air, Allegiant, and Gol.  But you can still use points to book flights on these airlines by calling the Chase travel center at 866-951-6592.

3.   Citi ThankYou 

Card Name Sign-Up Bonus
Citi ThankYou® Premier CardCard Image Not Available60,000 ThankYou points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Citi Prestige® CardCard Image Not AvailableCurrently, no sign-up bonus

Citi has a travel portal similar to Chase.  So it’s easy to redeem Citi ThankYou points for airfare.

Folks with the Citi ThankYou Premier Card or Citi Prestige Card get 1.25 cents per point toward airfare when booking through the Citi travel portal.  So a $100 flight costs 8,000 Citi ThankYou points ($100 flight / 1.25 cents per point).

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott used Citi ThankYou points to save $900 on Finnair airfare by booking through the Citi travel portal.  He really liked how using points this way gave him the flexibility to travel when he wanted.

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
Traveling to Finland Like Team Member Scott Recently Did? You Can Quickly Redeem Citi ThankYou Points for Airfare Through the Bank’s Travel Portal and Get Flexibility to Fly When You Want!

You can use a combination of points and cash when booking through the Citi travel portal.  So if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire flight cost, you can still redeem the points you have to save money.

4.   JetBlue

JetBlue has no blackout dates!  As long as a seat is for sale, you can book using points.  JetBlue points are worth ~1.4 cents each, so 10,000 JetBlue points can get you ~$140 worth of flights (10,000 points x 1.4 cents).  And JetBlue is an AMEX Membership Rewards airline transfer partner!

Million Mile Secrets team member Keith recently redeemed JetBlue points for upcoming holiday travel to New York City.  Redeeming points this way saved him ~$500.  And it was incredibly easy to book an award flight, unlike other airlines with nearly no available award seats during peak travel dates.

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
JetBlue Has No Blackout Dates, so You Can Easily Redeem Points for Flights to Destinations Like New York City!

Keep in mind, you must have enough JetBlue points to cover the entire fare.  During a fare sale, you can book one-way JetBlue flights for as little as 2,600 JetBlue points!

5.   Southwest

Card Name Sign-Up Bonus
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

40,000 Southwest points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of opening your account.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Card Image Not Available
60,000 Southwest points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
40,000 Southwest points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

40,000 Southwest points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Many readers (and Million Mile Secrets team members) love Southwest because:

  • There are no blackout dates on award flights
  • Award flight prices are based on the cash cost of the flight
  • You get 2 free checked bags on every flight
  • You don’t pay change or cancel fees on paid or award flights

They also have the best deal in travel – the Southwest Companion Pass.

To book Southwest flights with points, you’ll pay 70 to 80 points per $1 of the base fare.  So a $100 base fare requires 7,000 to 8,000 Southwest points.  You can really stretch your Southwest points if you book during a fare sale.

Simple Strategy To Save Money On Airfare Expenses GUARANTEED
Team Member Keith Loves Southwest Because It’s Easy to Redeem Points and Get Nearly 2-for-1 Airfare With the Companion Pass!

Bottom Line

If you haven’t had success saving money with miles & points, you might not be earning rewards with the right program.

It’s basically guaranteed you can save money if you collect miles or points with any of these 5 programs:

  • Capital One
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest

Because you can use these rewards to book airfare without blackout dates!  This is ideal for folks who are not as flexible with travel dates or don’t want to bother with transferring points to airline partners.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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