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Miles and points are great because they can get you as close as is realistically possible to free travel.
But if you’ve ever booked an award flight, you know that you’re still paying something, even if it’s just $11.20 in fees for a round-trip domestic award flight. And if you’re flying internationally, those taxes and fees can be a deal killer. But there is a way to still get that “free” flight without having to shell out cash for extra taxes and fees.
If you pay for your flight with credit card miles, like the miles you can earn with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, you won’t have to pay these taxes out of pocket. This can be especially valuable for flights where the taxes and fees aren’t much less than what an economy flight would be.
Paying With Capital One Miles for Flights
There are some frequent flyer programs that don’t pass on excessive taxes and fees to award flights, like United Airlines. But if you can’t find an award flight when you want to travel or if you don’t have the miles you need in the right program, you’ll be out of luck.
If you want to know what the taxes and fees will be for a specific flight, you can look it up on ITA Matrix. You can search for flights just like you would with Expedia or other travel booking sites.
I looked up flights from Chicago to London and found a bunch on British Airways for $622 round-trip. Once you’ve found a flight you want to check out, click on the price and it will bring up a detailed breakdown of the cost.
For this flight, you’ll have to pay everything I highlighted in yellow if you book with British Airways Avios points. This is a ridiculous example, but to be fair it was the very first flight I looked up.
There are other ways to get around these deal-killing fees. Using partner airline miles to book award flights on British Airways might help, if you have them available. The other tactic is to just pay for the flights outright using miles or points. This can be a great deal for cheaper coach flights.
Capital One miles are worth 1 cent each towards travel charges. So the flight above would cost you 62,183 Capital One miles. That’s 21,000+ more miles, but is still a way better deal because you’re paying nothing out of pocket. Plus, if you use Capital One miles to erase the charges, you’ll earn frequent flyer miles, and elite status credit. In addition, if you have elite status with the airline you still have the ability to get upgraded. This typically isn’t the case with award flights.
And if you can find a good deal on airfare, paying with miles makes even more sense because you can often end up using fewer miles to pay for the flight compared to booking an award and save the out of pockets costs too!
Capital One miles aren’t the only way to pay for flights (or other travel) with points. I recently used Citi ThankYou points to pay for a flight to the UK through the Citi ThankYou portal. And because I have the Citi Premier℠ Card, my ThankYou points are worth 1.25 cents each toward airfare.
You can use Chase Ultimate Rewards to pay for travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal with any of these cards:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card
- Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card
- Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited
The value of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points will vary depending on which card you have. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best card to have if you want to book through the Chase Travel Portal because with it, your points are worth 1.5 cents each.
Other good credit card to consider if you want to pay for flights with miles include:
What’s your strategy for avoiding heinous taxes and fees on award flights?