Which Airline Miles Should You Use to Fly to India?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Hemang commented:

I recall a couple of your past posts where you had used airline miles to book First Class/Business Class tickets for travel to India.

Can you please remind me, which airline miles should one accumulate for such a redemption? I am collecting miles on American Airlines.

If I recall correctly, you had mentioned collecting Alaska Airlines and American Airlines miles and using them on other international airlines.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
Hemang Can Use American Airlines Miles to Fly to Delhi, India

Hemang wants to know which airline miles he should use to fly First Class or Business Class to India.

Flying to India Using Airline Miles & Points

Hemang can use airline miles or points to fly to India.

Emily and I have flown to India in First Class and Business Class using:

He can also use Alaska Airlines miles to fly to India on partner airlines like Cathay Pacific and Emirates.

And Hemang can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards point to airlines, like United Airlines to fly to India.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
Hemang Can Fly Business Class and First Class to India Using American Airlines Miles

How to Get Lots of American Airlines Miles to Fly to India

Link:   American Airlines Award Chart

Link:   Oneworld Award Chart

The fastest way for Hemang can get a lot of miles is through credit card sign-up bonuses.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
3 Cards Got Me 100,000 American Airlines Miles & $690 Cash Back!

We’ve used American Airlines miles for most of our trips to India because there are so many ways to earn American Airlines miles, including applying for credit cards.

Hemang can use American Airlines miles on oneworld partner airlines like British Airways and partner airlines like Etihad.

Using American Airlines miles to fly to India, Hemang needs:

  • 67,500 American Airlines miles to fly 1-way in Business Class
  • 90,000 American Airlines miles to fly 1-way in First Class

Credit Cards That Earn American Airlines Miles

1.   Citi American Airlines Cards

Link:   Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Link:   My Review of the Citi American Airlines Card (Personal)

Link:   CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Link:   My Review of the Citi American Airlines Card (Business)

The Citi American Airlines cards are 2 of the easiest ways for Hemang to get to India using airline miles.

Hemang can get 50,000 American Airlines miles each from Citi American Airlines card (personal) and Citi American Airlines card (business) when he spends $3,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening the account.

This is the easiest way to get the lots of American Airlines miles to fly First or Business Class to India.

See my review of the Citi American Airlines cards (personal and business) for more details!

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
A 10% Rebate on Redeemed American Airlines Miles Means More Miles to Visit India

Some folks report being able to get this American Airlines card ~18+ months from when they were last approved for a Citi American Airlines personal card.

Hemang may qualify for a business card and might not know it!

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
If Hemang Blogs for Profit, He Can Qualify for a Business Card

Note:   The general rules for Citi are: 1 Citi personal card every ~8 days and no more than 2 Citi personal cards every ~65 days.  And 1 Citi business card every ~95 days.

2.   US Airways Card

Link:   US Airways Card (Personal)

Link:   My Review of the US Airways Card (Personal)

US Airways is a oneworld alliance member so Hemang can use US Airways miles on oneworld partner airlines like American Airlines and British Airways.  And US Airways miles will eventually become American Airlines miles when the merger is complete.

Hemang can get 50,000 US Airways miles after his 1st purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee on the US Airways card card (personal) and:

  • Free Checked bag for himself and up to 4 travel companions
  • Priority boarding (Zone 2)
  • Domestic Companion Certificate for up to 2 guests
Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
2 of Hemang’s Friends or Family Can Fly With Him for $99 + Fees Using the Companion Certificate

Note:  The Barclaycard US Airways card will be retired soon.  And when it’s gone, you’ll no longer be able to get the sign-up bonus!

3.   American Express Starwood Cards

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   My Series on Using Starwood Hotel Points

Hemang can get 25,000 Starwood points when he spends $5,000 on purchases within the 1st 6 months on both the American Express Starwood card (personal) and the American Express Starwood card (business).  As always, terms and conditions apply.

Hemang can transfer Starwood hotel points to certain airlines at a 1:1 ratio.

And he’ll get a 5,000 Starwood point bonus for every 20,000 Starwood points he transfers to an airline.

If he earned the bonus on both the personal and business cards Hemang would have 60,000 Starwood points (25,000 sign-up Starwood points x 2 + 10,000 Starwood points from completing the minimum spending).

He can transfer Starwood hotel points to American Airlines.  60,000 Starwood hotel points transfers to 75,000 American Airlines miles (60,000 American Airlines miles + 15,000 transfer bonus).

That’s enough American Airlines miles for a 1-way Business Class ticket to India.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
Hemang Can Transfer Starwood Points to American Airlines

4.   Citi American Airlines Executive Card

Link:   Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

Hemang gets 50,000 miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening the Citi American Airlines Executive card.

The $450 annual fee is not waived, but he’ll get Admirals Club lounge membership (worth up to $500).

See my full review of the other benefits of the Citi American Airlines Executive card.

But spending $5,000 in 3 months might be tricky.  So here are some tips to help Hemang meet the minimum spending.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
Paying for His Groceries With His Credit Card Can Help Hemang Meet His Minimum Spending

Although Emily and I have mostly used American Airlines miles to fly to India, Hemang can also use Alaska Airlines to fly to India.

How to Get Lots of Alaska Airlines Miles to Fly to India

Link:   Alaska Airlines Partner Award Chart for India

Hemang can use Alaska Airlines miles on partner airlines like Cathay Pacific and Emirates to fly to India.  If he’s unsure how to redeem Alaska Airlines, he can read my post on how to use Alaska Airlines miles.

Hemang will use fewer miles if he uses Alaska Airlines miles on Cathay Pacific:

  • 62,500 Alaska Airlines miles for a 1-way Business Class ticket
  • 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles for a 1-way First Class ticket
Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
Hemang Can Use His Alaska Airlines Miles to Fly First or Business Class to India

Credit Cards That Earn Alaska Airlines Miles

1.   Alaska Airlines

Link:   Alaska Airlines Card (Personal)

Link:   My Review of the Alaska Airlines Card (Personal)

Link:   Alaska Airlines Card (Business)

Hemang can get 25,000 Alaska Airlines miles from Alaska Airlines card (personal) upon approval.  And he earns 25,000 Alaska airlines miles from Alaska Airlines (business) card after his 1st purchase.

Both cards offer a $99 (plus tax) Coach Companion Fare.

The $75 annual fee on the personal card is NOT waived.  Nor is the $75 annual fee on the business card.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
With the Coach Companion Fare, Hemang Can Bring a Friend for $99 (Plus Tax)

2.   American Express Starwood Cards

Link:   American Express Starwood Card (Personal)

Link:   American Express Starwood Card (Business)

Link:   My Series on Using Starwood Hotel Points

Because Alaska Airlines is a Starwood transfer partner, Hemang should consider the American Express Starwood card (personal) and the American Express Starwood card (business).

Hemang can get 25,000 Starwood points after spending $5,000 within 6 months on both cards. As always, terms and conditions apply.

For every 20,000 Starwood points he transfers to Alaska Airlines, he’ll get a 5,000 Alaska Airlines point bonus.

Earning the bonus on both the personal and business cards would give Hemang 60,000 Starwood points (25,000 sign-up Starwood points x 2 + 10,000 Starwood points from completing the minimum spending).

After transferring those points to Alaska Airlines, he’d have 75,000 Alaska Airlines miles (60,000 Alaska Airlines miles + 15,000 transfer bonus), which gets him a 1-way First Class ticket to India.

Which Airline Miles Should You Use To Fly To India
70,000 Alaska Airlines Miles Gets Hemang a 1-Way First Class Ticket to India on Cathay Pacific

Hemang can also transfer Starwood points to United Airlines. The transfer ratio is 2:1 which isn’t as good as with American Airlines or Alaska Airlines.  But it gives Hemang more flight options.

However, instead of transferring Starwood points to United Airlines, he should transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines.  That’s because Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer on a 1:1 ratio to United Airlines.

How to Get Lots of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Fly to India

Link:   United Airlines Award Chart

Although Hemang is collecting American Airlines miles, he could also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to fly on British Airways and United Airlines to India.

 Chase Ultimate Rewards Airline Transfer Partners 
Aer LingusBritish AirwaysFlying Blue (Air France/KLM)
IberiaJetBlueSingapore Airlines
SouthwestUnited AirlinesVirgin Atlantic

We transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines and treated Emily’s mom to a Business Class flight home on her first trip to India. 

Hemang can read my guide on all the ways to get to India using United Airlines miles.

Because United Airlines and Air India are Star Alliance partners, Hemang can also use his United Airlines miles to fly on Air India.

Using United Airlines miles to fly to India, Hemang needs:

  • 70,000 United Airlines miles for a 1-way Business Class ticket
  • 80,000 United Airlines miles for a 1-way First Class ticket

Credit Cards That Earn United Airlines Miles

1.   United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Link:   United MileagePlus Explorer Card

Link:   United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card

Hemang can get 30,000 United Airlines miles with the United MileagePlus Explorer card after completing the minimum spending.

He also gets:

  • Free checked bag
  • Priority boarding

And the sign-up bonus on the United MileagePlus Explorer Business card has been increased for a limited time to 50,000 miles after completing minimum spending.

2.   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Link:   Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Link:   My Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Hemang gets 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  This can be instantly transferred to 40,000 United Airlines miles.

3.   Chase Ink Card

Link:   Chase Ink Plus Card

The Chase Ink Plus gets Hemang 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after completing the minimum spending.

So Hemang could apply for the 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards point offer on the Chase Ink Plus card, and earn another 5,000 points from meeting minimum spending requirements.  He’d only need another 15,000 points to get a 1-way Business Class ticket to India!

Bottom Line

Hemang can use airline miles and points to fly in First or Business Class to India.

Emily and I have used American Airlines and United Airlines miles.  We’ve even used American Airlines miles to fly on British Airways and Etihad to India.  Hemang can too!

Hemang can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to airlines like United Airlines to fly to India.

Applying for miles and points credit cards is the fastest way for Hemang to earn miles and points to fly First or Business Class to India.

Million Mile Secrets is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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