Not all points are created equal. For instance, 25,000 American Express points does not equal 1 free airline ticket, but 25,000 Delta airline miles could become 1 free airline ticket. Transferring 25,000 American Express points over to your Delta SkyMiles account will then give you 25,000 Delta air miles. As you can see not all points are equal and redeeming some rewards might cost you more points or miles than what you needed to spend.
Here is a prime example. I searched both American Express and Delta SkyMiles for a flight from Seattle (SEA) to Orlando (MCO) for April 24th – May 1st. The price of the flight was around $421 on both AMEX and Delta. I could use some of my 454k AMEX points to buy the flight at 42,119 points or buy the ticket on Delta at 25,000 miles plus $10 fee.
Now before you say one is better than the other, we have to realize that flying from Seattle to Orlando would net me about 6,540 miles if I paid for the ticket with my AMEX points. Those miles would count towards any class upgrade and would make me eligible for First Class upgrades since the ticket would be ‘paid’ for rather than paid with miles. Paying 42,119 AMEX points is almost 2 airline tickets worth or $800+. When I say not all points are made equal, there are other factors that go into play here. American Express and Delta often offer transfer bonuses, but haven’t since mid-late 2011. The last great bonus I took advantage of was a transfer bonus of 40%. This means that if I were to transfer 50,000 American Express points to my Delta SkyMiles account I would have paid a fee of $0.0006 per point up to a maximum of $99, so the more points I transfer the better the deal. 50,000 points, $30 fee, turns into 70,000 airline miles, or almost 3 tickets at the current price show above.
The way to leverage your rewards points and airline miles is to have patience and wait for the best deals to come around. Many airline are offering excellent rewards, free airline miles and other bonuses for using their services, but if you can wait or plan for the future you can really make your airline miles last longer.
How many miles do you think I’ll get with 454k American Express rewards points? If I wait for a 40% bonus again, I can turn my 454k points into 635,600 free airline miles! Where would you go if you had 25 economy class airline tickets, or 9 First Class tickets, or about 7 international airline tickets? (Economy = 25,000, First Class = 65,000, International = 90,000) – those are based on non peak travel times. I’ve gotten First Class as low as 32,500 miles 😉