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Answering your burning points and miles questions

Jan. 28, 2022
6 min read
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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.

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

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.

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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 image 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.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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 Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • 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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,300+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and the Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023