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Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly business class round-trip to Africa for 104,000 miles or less

March 27 2022
6 min read
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ANA Mileage Club miles have proven to be one of the most valuable airline currencies around. The airline is largely ignored by travelers who aren’t complete points and miles geeks because of its clunky website — but thanks to its stellar lineup of Star Alliance partners, you can use its miles to get just about anywhere on the planet.

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No matter which continent you’re trying to reach, ANA will often have one of the best rates to get there (excluding Antarctica, of course). Flights to Africa using ANA miles are extra sweet, with business-class awards priced only slightly higher than other airlines charge for economy class.

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Why it’s special

The Cape of Good Hope in Cape Town. (Photo by Edwin Remsberg/VWPics/Universal Images Group/Getty Images)

If you’re booking a round-trip business-class flight to exciting African destinations like Nairobi or Cape Town in a lie-flat seat, prepare to pay at least 150,000 airline miles round-trip. That’s the going award rate to travel to such a faraway destination in comfort.

The baffling exception is with ANA. The airline manages to publish confusingly low prices everywhere in Africa. Northern destinations like Morocco cost just 88,000 miles round-trip in business class, while farther destinations like Cape Town cost 104,000 miles round-trip. That’s a potential savings of 45,000-plus miles over competing airline currencies like American AAdvantage miles, United MileagePlus miles and Air Canada Aeroplan points.

Flights like these can easily sell for $5,000-plus, meaning you’ll almost always get a solid value of 4.8 cents per ANA mile when redeeming your rewards this way.

The one caveat is that you must book round-trip flights — ANA doesn’t allow one-way awards.

Related: Everything you need to know about ANA Mileage Club

How to book this award

Step 1: Click 'Flight Award Reservations' on the ANA website

Head to the ANA website and click the “ANA Mileage Club” tab near the top of the page.

You’ll see a list of buttons under the “Use Miles on Flights” section. Select “ANA International and Partner Airline Flight Awards.” You’ll then see three buttons. Click “Flight Award Reservations” to begin the search process.

(Screenshot from ana.co.jp)

Step 2: Enter your travel details

A search engine should appear, with the toggle set to “Award Reservation.”

Enter your desired origin and destination. You’ll have the easiest time finding flights if you search major U.S. hubs.

Before you search for your flights, tick the “Compare seat availability +/- 3 days” box. This will allow you to search for availability one week at a time.

Also, if you’re searching for business-class flights, select it from the drop-down menu.

(Screenshot from ana.co.jp)

Step 3: Find dates that work for you

The more flexible you are, the more favorable an itinerary you’ll find.

You’ll see a one-week schedule for both your departure date and return date. Any dates with “Seats available” have availability for your specific seat class. Click the arrows bookending the calendar week if nothing suits you.

(Screenshot from ana.co.jp)

Step 4: Select your preferred airlines (and choose the lowest fuel surcharges)

ANA passes along fuel surcharges based on the airline partner you’re flying. Depending on the airline, route and class, these fees can be enough to discourage you from booking a flight at all.

When you find a route you like, each direction will often have multiple options operated by varying airlines. Mix and match to find the lowest fuel surcharges, which will immediately refresh at the bottom of the page (under the award price).

As a rule of thumb, the airlines that incur low fuel surcharges are:

  • Air Canada.
  • Ethiopian Airlines.
  • United Airlines.
  • South African Airways.
  • LOT Polish Airlines.
  • Scandinavian Airlines.

For this round-trip business-class flight on Ethiopian Airlines, you’ll pay about $130. That’s not bad at all.

(Screenshot from ana.co.jp)

How to earn miles for this award

(Photo by The Points Guy)

There are two practical and efficient ways to earn ANA miles quickly.

First, ANA is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. You can transfer Amex points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio (though they may take 48 hours to deposit). That means all Membership Rewards-earning card bonuses effectively earn ANA miles. Here are some current notable offers:

As you can see, a single card bonus can be more than enough for a round-trip business-class flight to anywhere in Africa.

You can also transfer Marriott points to ANA at a 3:1 ratio (3 Marriott points = 1 ANA mile). However, when you transfer in increments of 60,000 points, you’ll receive a bonus 5,000 ANA miles. In other words, 60,000 Marriott points will net you 25,000 ANA miles.

Read our post on how to earn lots of Marriott points.

Related: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

Bottom line

If you’re a collector of Amex Membership Rewards points, few partners will yield a better return per point than ANA. The ability to travel to Africa in lie-flat seats for between 88,000 and 104,000 miles is incredible. Just be sure to fly on partner airlines that don’t incur high fuel surcharges.

Featured photo by (Photo by annick vanderschelden photography via Getty Images)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Cons

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  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
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Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees