Maximize Your Credit Card Points Values

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What is Credit Card Points?

Credit card points are rewards points of (bank) reward programs that can be earned through a series of credit cards. There are 4 major credit card points:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR)
  2. AmEx Membership Rewards (MR)
  3. Citi Thank You Points (TYP)
  4. SPG Starpoints (SPG)

Which Credit Cards Can Earn Those Points?

The most common credits cards that could earn those rewards points are:

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR): Chase FreedomChase Sapphire Preferred (CSP), etc.
  2. AmEx Membership Rewards (MR): AmEx EveryDay (ED)AmEx EveryDay Preferred (EDP)AmEx Premier Rewards Gold (PRG)AmEx Platinum, etc.
  3. Citi Thank You Points (TYP): Citi PrestigeCiti ThankYou PremierCiti ThankYou PreferredCiti AT&T, Citi Forward (no longer accepting new applications).
  4. SPG Starpoints (SPG): AmEx SPG.

*Note: The Ultimate Rewards Points earned by Chase Freedom Credit Card can only be transferred to airline miles (worth 1.6 cents/point) if you have Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) Credit Card. Similarly, ThankYou Points are only worth 1.6 cents/point if you have the Citi Prestige Credit Card.

Why Shouldn’t I Redeem Points for Cash?

It’s a waste to redeem points at 1 cent/point or even 0.5 cents/point value! This is because when you redeem for airline tickets, the value of Ultimate Rewards (UR) Points is around 1.6 cents/point, Membership Rewards (MR) Points around 1.6 cents/point, ThankYou Points (TYP) around 1.6 cents/point, and SPG Points around 2.0 cents/point. (See Bank & Credit Card Points Value for more information)

How Can I Maximize the Value of Credit Card Points?

In most cases, you should transfer points to airline miles for award tickets or redeem for airline tickets directly. Here are some common airlines and their loyalty programs: United Airlines (UA) MileagePlus, American Airlines (AA) AAdvantage, British Airways (BA) Avios, Air Canada (AC) Aeroplan, All Nippon Airways (ANA) ANA Mileage Club, Delta Air Lines (DL) SkyMiles.

The partnerships between credit card points and airline loyalty programs are (we value most of these airline miles at 1.6 cents/point):

  1. Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR): 1 mile/point to UA MileagePlus.
  2. AmEx Membership Rewards (MR): 1 mile/point to BA Avios, AC Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club, DL SkyMiles.
  3. Citi Thank You Points (TYP): worth 1.6 cents/point if purchasing AA tickets.
  4. SPG Starpoints (SPG): 1.25 mile/point to AA AAdvantage and many moreA. (the normal transfer rate is 1:1, but you get 5k bonus when transfer 20k)

Above are just a small example of many different possibilities. See the chart below for more complete partnerships. Click the chart to zoom in. (from Well Traveled Mile, you can also find more transfer ratios on that page)

 

Notice that we value Delta miles at about 1.2 cents/point because the availability of Delta award tickets is typically not as good as other major airlines and they do not have a published award chart. So if you want to transfer points to Delta miles, make sure there are award tickets available first.

In fact, whenever you are looking to redeem your points, make sure the tickets you want are available as oftentimes the transfers are instant or the airline can put your award ticket on hold!

How Long Does It Take To Earn An Award Ticket?

Typically you need around 25k/45k/60k/70k miles for a free round trip ticket to most states in the US/Hawaii/Europe/Asia, respectively. This may take some time to earn through everyday purchases. However, many credit cards offer great sign-up bonuses! We list some related credit cards below. See Best Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus for more detailed and latest information.

Chase Credit Cards: Chase Freedom 22.5k UR + Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) 55k UR = 77.5k UR, which can be transferred for 77.5k UA Miles. Also, the  Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card sometimes offers 55k UA Miles, that’s 132.5k UA Miles in total!

Citi Credit Cards: Citi Prestige Card 60k TYP + Citi ThankYou Premier 50k TYP + Citi ThankYou Preferred best offer 30k TYP = 140k TYP! That’s enough to buy $2,240 worth of AA tickets!

AmEx Credit Cards: AmEx EveryDay Preferred (EDP) 15k MR + AmEx Premier Rewards Gold (PRG) 50k MR = 65k MR, which can be transferred to 65k BA/ANA/AC Miles.

SPG Credit Card: AmEx Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) 30k SPG points, which can be transferred for 35k AA Miles. Also, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Credit Card offers 50k AA Miles, that’s 85k AA Miles in total!

As you can see, you can get a lot of free award tickets by using credit cards properly.

Can I Redeem Points for Free Hotel Nights?

Yes you can! But there are only 2 ways that we recommend: the first one is to 1:1 transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt Points, which are worth about 1.8 cents/point; the second one is to redeem for Starwood hotels using SPG points, which are worth about 2.4 cents/point. Other ways to redeem for hotel nights typically have far less value. (See Bank & Credit Card Points, Airline Miles, Hotel Points Value for detailed points value)


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  • SJ_01

    “*Note: The Ultimate Rewards Points earned by Chase Freedom Credit Card can only be transferred to airline miles (worth 1.6 cents/point) if you have Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) Credit Card.”

    Not completely true. You can also transfer UR points to airline miles with the Chase Ink Plus Business Card (a card that also has a yearly fee). Basically, you can transfer points to miles with any Chase UR card that has a yearly fee. Regardless, Chase Sapphire is probably the better card for most people, as the Ink Plus is geared more towards awarding extra points for business related spending categories.

    • ThunderFat

      thanks for pointing out… This is written long time ago. We mainly aim at foreign F1 visa student, and they cannot have legally business in US so in principle are not eligible for Ink cards. That’s why we only mentioned CSP here…anyway, this is our fault, we will correct it.

  • SJ_01

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the Chase Ink Plus card comes with a heftier initial bonus (60000 points, by spending $5000 within the first 3 months following sign-up). So that might be the card to go for if you’re only in it for the sign-up & spend bonus.