How to Maximize Points for Airline Ticket Purchases
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Presumably, airline ticket purchases are a type of purchase that all traveling families have from time to time. Heck, you can't necessarily always use miles and points for tickets...and even if you could, sometimes it just doesn't make sense to do so. Since this is an expense we all have, it makes sense to get as many points as possible for those purchases. I'll share the way I have found to maximize earning points for airline ticket purchases, but I would love to hear other strategies if anyone else has a way that works better for their family.
My favorite way to earn points for airline purchases for most airlines is to combine my two favorite points programs - Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards. Both of these programs are great in their own ways, but my method of buying airline tickets lets you earn points in both programs at the same time. Here is a step-by-step guide that will tell you how to do it, too.
1. To follow the plan exactly as my family does, you must have a Chase Ultimate Rewards earning card that has the ability to transfer points to hotel and airline partners. Both the Ink BoldSM with Ultimate Rewards and the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card fit this criteria. You could also use other Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, but I recommend the two listed so that you can then get the most out of the points by being able to transfer them to hotel and airline partners. You must also have an American Express card that awards 3x points on airfare purchases. Both the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN fit that bill (though be aware the business card currently awards no sign-up bonus points).
2. Go through the Ultimate Rewards portal to access Travelocity. To do this, log on to www.ultimaterewards.com, selecting "Earn Faster" from the top of the screen, and then use the search tool on the left side of the screen to search for Travelocity. You need to click "Shop Now" and then make your purchase from the Travelocity site that you linked to from the Ultimate Rewards portal. This will award 2x Ultimate Reward points for the purchase. In my experience so far, points have just been awarded for the base fare and not for the taxes. While I have used non-Chase cards though this portal, just be aware that there is always a small risk in using a different card via this portal.
3. Pay for your airfare using your Amex card that awards 3x points for airfare. When your bonus points post, they will post as 2x points for the bonus , and the other 1x base points will post via your regular spending on your statement.
4. Enjoy the total 5x points earned for airline ticket purchases - 2x via Ultimate Rewards, and 3x via Membership Rewards!
I have used this method myself to earn points while paying for airfare and it worked out just fine. I would love to hear if you have had success with this method, or if your family uses a different method of earning points for airline ticket purchases, I would love to hear it!
I do want to point out that there are sometimes exceptions that make other strategies better. For example, if you are flying on American Airlines, it often makes sense to obtain AA gift cards at Costco for 10% off, and then try to use coupon codes to get additional discounts on the flights (see the comments section of this post for more details). Additionally, since Southwest gift cards are often available via office supply stores and grocery stores, you can often get 5x points (or possibly more through a portal) for purchasing the gift cards via those routes and then using them to book flights online. Again, see the comments section for more info. Very complex tickets or those with high fuel surcharges might also best be booked via a different route, but for many of our "everyday" flights purchases, this is still a very solid strategy.
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