Skip to content

Answering your burning points and miles questions

January 28 2022
6 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

We're taking a break from using this weekly column to answer France- or trusted traveler-related questions, and instead zeroing in on the heart of what TPG does — providing our points and miles expertise to empower you in your own trip planning.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

In order to answer this week's top questions, I had to phone a few friends — my savvy colleagues.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

1. I live in Chicago and am planning a trip to Australia and New Zealand. What’s the best way to use these points for me and my daughter?

Current points stash: 130,000 British Airways Avios.

"One hundred and thirty thousand Avios won't do much for a trip to Australia if they want to fly business class," TPG Points and Miles editor Andrew Kunesh told me. "Flights via LAX cost 60,000 Avios one-way and business class is 180,000. So, they have enough for two one-ways in coach or one round-trip if award space is open."

Sydney. (Photo by Mohd Ezairi Mohd Amiruddin/EyeEm/Getty Images)

2. What is the best way to use points to fly business class round-trip from NYC to Singapore? I prefer to fly nonstop on Singapore Airlines.

Current points stash: Large cache of points — Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points, American Express Memberhsip Rewards points and Marriott Bonvoy points.

"I'd say Singapore Airlines' nonstop is the best way unless they want to do the New York City (JFK)-Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)-Singapore (SIN) route and have a stopover in Frankfurt for a couple of days," says Kunesh. "Chase, Amex, Citi, Capital One and Marriott transfer to Singapore Airlines and a round-trip business-class fare costs 198,000 KrisFlyer miles for a nonstop flight. They should also remember that Star Alliance partners cannot book Singapore award tickets in premium cabins."

Singapore. (Photo by Martin Puddy/Getty Images)

3. Do I need to establish an account with specific airlines to transfer alliance points, such as Japan Airlines points?

"To answer the first part of the question, you can’t transfer to Japan Airlines from any of the major programs," said TPG strategic travel reporter Benji Stawski. Bummer! "In order to transfer points [of any kind], you need a frequent flyer account with the program to which you are transferring. Because otherwise where will you transfer the points to?"

I hate to say it but he makes a good point.

Japan Airlines aircraft on the tarmac at Narita Inernational Airport in Japan. (Photo by Toru Hanai/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Moving on to a couple of general points and miles questions:

4.How do you determine when it makes sense to use cash vs. miles for airfares?

Ah, finally a question I can answer. Luckily for you (and me), TPG developed a points calculator to complement our monthly valuations for the most popular travel loyalty programs.

The TPG points calculator is actually a very cool and easy-to-use tool that helps determine the value of a cash redemption versus an awards redemption to further value reward currency.

If you are a journalist like me (and thereby not a fan of math) or just want to save some time, do yourself a favor and bookmark our calculator and use it anytime you are interested in booking a deal.

(Screenshot courtesy of The Points Guy)

5. What is the best approach to figure this out myself without expert advice?

"My main tip would be to always compare the cash cost of an award to the cost in points to make sure you’re getting maximum value from your points," advises Stawski. "Remember, TPG publishes monthly valuations for points and miles, which can give you a general idea of how much value you should be getting. And use the calculator!"

In determining whether you're getting that maximum value Stawksi references, you may find yourself "digging through award charts," says TPG senior writer Katie Genter, who encourages points and miles newbies to "get curious about the programs for which you have points."

To calculate a prospective redemption value, she says you should consider two things:

  1. Are you getting at least TPG's valuation?
  2. Is there a different use for those rewards that you'd value more?

"If you're flying to a particular destination, check to see if TPG has a guide on how to redeem points and miles for that destination — and make sure your redemption isn't going to cost significantly more than the redemptions highlighted in that guide," she told me. "You can also use the TPG app or a tool like AwardHacker to get an idea of what types of flight redemptions you might be able to get on particular routes."

For what it's worth, I came to TPG last summer with zero points and although I am still very much a points and miles newbie, I am slowly but surely learning as I go thanks to my TPG expert colleagues like Andrew, Benji and Katie, who I must thank for being so willing to help field questions from you and me.

In the meantime, a few reading suggestions:

Have a question for next week? Email me at caroline.tanner@thepointsguy.com or tips@thepointsguy.com.

Featured photo by 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.

TPG featured card

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

2 - 6X points
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 points75,000 points
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.

Annual Fee

$125

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

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
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
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