Get up to a 100% bonus when you buy points and miles

5d ago

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The travel industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. Thousands of aircraft are parked due to low passenger loads, while hotel occupancy in the U.S. and abroad has plunged to historic levels. This has left airlines and hotel groups scrambling to find new income streams in order to secure fast cash. One of these ways is selling airline miles and hotel points at a discount or bonus — this gives the airline an immediate cash injection as travelers are essentially prepaying for future travel at a discount.

We’ll walk you through all of the current airline mile and hotel point sales that we consider good deals. But first, let’s discuss whether or not buying miles during the global coronavirus outbreak is a good idea.

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Should I buy points and miles now?

While these deals sound great on paper, there are a couple of things to consider before taking advantage of point sales. The first is that buying points and miles makes sense only for certain travelers. It’s generally much better to earn points and miles for free through welcome bonuses on top travel rewards credit cards.

However, buying points and miles during good promotions can make sense for those who have tapped out their credit card options and can get high value from their points and miles. That said, we only recommend buying points or miles when you have an immediate plan to use them; otherwise, you’re left open to unexpected devaluations.

But here’s the thing: Now isn’t the time to travel, given the state of the coronavirus outbreak. This means that you’re buying miles that you’ll likely use for travel in late 2020 or the first half of 2021. However, there’s no guarantee that travel will be safe by this time, so make sure you understand the cancellation policy of the airline or hotel group you’re buying miles from before buying rewards.

In addition, many airlines and hotel groups are on rocky financial ground right now. We’ve already seen one major airline go bankrupt — when this happens, your miles could be deemed worthless depending on the outcome of the bankruptcy. To play it safe, only purchase points and miles from airlines and hotel companies that you think will make it through the pandemic without filing for bankruptcy or otherwise going insolvent.

With that out of the way, here are the buy-points and miles promotions currently available, sorted by those ending first:

Buy airline mile promotions

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Buy airline miles and fly business class on the cheap. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

  • Current promo: up to a 60% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.72 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.8 cents per mile
  • Ending date: October 31
  • Link to buy points

Alaska Airlines is running a targeted buy Mileage Plan miles promotion through the end of the month. Depending on your offer, you may be able to purchase miles with a 60% bonus through the end of October. This bonus brings the cent per mile cost down to 1.72 cents per mile when buying at least 30,000 miles.

TPG values Alaska miles at 1.8 cents apiece, so this can be a good deal if you use the miles for a high-end partner award like Cathay Pacific or Japan Airlines first class. For example, you can book a Cathay Pacific business class flight from the U.S. to Asia for 50,000 miles with minimal taxes and fees. You can effectively buy this flight for just $860 with this bonus.

Verdict: A good deal for high-end partner award tickets, especially if targeted for the full 60% bonus.

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • Current promo: up to 100,000 bonus miles
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.82 cents per mile
  • TPG valuation: 1.4 cents per mile
  • Ending date: November 6
  • Link to buy points

American Airlines is offering up to 100,000 bonus miles when you buy AAdvantage miles by November. 6. This drops the price to as low as 1.82 cents per point. You must purchase 150,000 AAdvantage miles to get the full bonus as lower denominations receive a smaller amount of bonus points. This can be a good deal for booking select partner awards like Etihad first and business class, but you may get a better deal with other partners by buying Alaska miles.

Verdict: Can be a good deal for booking select partner awards and American Web Special awards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards

  • Current promo: up to a 70% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.62 cents per point
  • TPG valuation: 1.5 cents per point
  • Ending date: November 20
  • Link to buy points

Southwest is selling Rapid Rewards points for as low as 1.62 cents apiece, which is slightly higher than TPG’s valuation. Southwest’s award tickets are priced based on how much a cash ticket costs, with most redemptions offering between 1.3 and 1.5 cents per point in value. Since the airline doesn’t have partners for mileage redemption, you can’t use them for aspirational redemptions like international first class.

We only recommend buying miles if you can purchase miles for lower than the cost of a cash flight, which isn’t usually the case with these miles. That said, you may opt to purchase miles if you need to top-up your account for a specific award ticket.

Verdict: Only worthwhile if you need to top-up for an award ticket.

Air France/KLM Flying Blue

  • Current promo: Up to a 100% bonus
  • Purchase rate: As low as 1.6 cents per mile (depending on exchange rate)
  • TPG valuation: 1.2 cents per mile
  • Ending date: December 31
  • Link to buy points

Flying Blue — the loyalty program for Air France and KLM — launched a rare mileage sale that’s valid through the end of the year. Until December 31, you can purchase Flying Blue miles with a 100% bonus when you purchase at least 30,000 miles. This brings the cost down to as low as 1.6 cents per mile.

This is still higher than TPG’s Flying Blue valuation of 1.2 cents per point. That said, it can be a good deal if you find a low-cost Flying Blue award you’d like to book. For example, I’ve seen transatlantic business class flights price at 53,000 miles one-way with roughly $220 in taxes and fees. You can effectively “buy” this flight for $1,068 with this mileage sale after factoring in said fees.

Verdict: Solid way to save money on SkyTeam flights.

Etihad

Etihad Guest miles — the loyalty program of Etihad Airways — is a solid option for booking premium-class awards like Etihad Apartment or business class. Through the end of October, you can purchase miles at a flat 20 percent bonus, with a minimum of 1,000 miles and a maximum of 150,000 miles at a rate of 1.67 cents per mile.

Screengrab from Etihad

This is higher than our valuation of 1.4 cents per mile, but if you’re set on flying an Etihad premium cabin product this could be the way to go. For instance, I’m seeing one-way business class flights between New York (JFK) and Abu Dhabi (AUH) for just over 100,000 miles one-way.

Considering that the same flight is over $4,600, it’s a pretty solid deal.

Screen grab courtesy of Google Flights

Verdict: Could be a good option for Etihad flights, though be sure to check prices through American AAdvantage (which partners with Etihad)

Buy hotel points promotions

Marriott Bonvoy

Marriott is currently offering a 50% bonus when you buy at least 2,000 points. This isn’t the highest bonus we’ve ever seen from Marriott, and the cost is higher than TPG’s valuation of Marriott points. However, if you have a high-value redemption in mind then topping up your account with this promotion could make sense. Just keep in mind that reward programs can devalue at any moment, so you shouldn’t buy points unless you have an immediate redemption in mind.

Verdict: Good for topping up your Marriott balance for an award.

Radisson Rewards

Radisson Rewards is selling points at a rate of 0.35 cents apiece. This is lower than TPG’s 0.4 cent-per-point valuation, and can be a solid deal for picking up expensive Radisson stays. Check out Radisson’s portfolio to see if the sale makes sense for you.

Verdict: Good deal for purchasing discounted Radisson stays.

Choice Hotels

Choice Hotels is offering a discount of up to 25% on Choice Privileges points purchased by November 6, and this applies to all levels of purchases. If you’re targeted for the highest offer, it brings the price down to 0.825 cents per point. This is 0.225 cents per point higher than TPG’s most recent valuation but is a good deal if you can purchase the points needed for a stay for lower than the cash rate — especially at select properties.

Verdict: Good for scoring a discount on Choice stays.

Hilton Honors

Hilton is currently offering a 100% bonus on Hilton Honors points purchased by the end of the year. You’re eligible for this bonus when you purchase at least 10,000 points, bringing the price down to just 0.5 cents per point. This is 0.1 cents per point lower than TPG’s valuation of 0.6 cents per point, and can be an excellent way to save on expensive hotel stays.

Verdict: Good for scoring a discount on Hilton stays.

Which credit card should you use to buy miles?

Most of these buy-point/mile promotions are processed through Points.com rather than by the hotel or airline directly. Unfortunately, that means that you won’t generally get bonus rewards with a card that has a travel category bonus.

Instead, go for one that offers a solid return on non-bonus spending. Some of the best cards that fit this bill include the following:

The information for the Chase Freedom Unlimited has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

If you’re in the midst of completing a credit card spending requirement, buying miles can help you get it done faster. You can check out our guide to the best cards for everyday spending for additional suggestions.

The only exception to this rule is American miles. The airline reportedly codes mileage purchases as airfare, so you’ll want to use a credit card that earns bonus miles on travel for the highest returns on your mileage purchases.

Additional reporting by Victoria Walker.

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
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  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.