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Miles and Points

What’s The Point?
How Loyalty Programs Work
Credit Cards and Credit Scores
Types of Miles & Points
Identifying Your Travel Goals
How Alliances Work
Credit Card Strategy For Beginners
Earning Miles & Points
Hotels Matter Too
What’s Next?


There are a few different kinds of miles and points of which you will need to learn about. They are


  • Airline Miles or Hotel Points

  • Fixed Value Points

  • Flexible or Transferable Points


Airline Miles or Hotel Points


These are basically a rebate offered by a specific brand (airline or hotel) in return for loyalty to their company. Consequently it is these companies that set the earnings rates, redemption values, and all other terms and conditions.


Fixed Value Points


These are points associated with a bank or credit cards. Fixed value points can be redeemed towards a specific dollar amount of travel. The amount you receive will change for each program, but typically you will receive about 1¢-2¢ per point towards travel


Some examples of these could include (not a full list)


  • Bank of America Worldpoints

  • Barclaycard Arrival Miles

  • Capital One No Hassle Rewards

  • Citi Thankyou points

  • US Bank FlexPerk Rewards

  • USAA Rewards

  • Wells Fargo Rewards


There are certain programs that will require you redeem through a bank portal, but others will issue a statement of credit. Generally you are redeeming fixed-value points for tickets that could otherwise be purchased for cash.


For example lets say a particular airline was selling for $200, if you had fixed value currency that gave you 1¢ per point towards travel, you would need 20,000 points for that ticket.


These programs often advertise as having various perks “no blackout dates” or “choose any airline” option. In this case the bank is buying the ticket for you I, in exchange for points that you are earned in their program. Because these tickets are revenue fares, meaning you can earn miles when you fly on airline fare procured with a fixed value currency.

In addition domestic tickets can often be difficult to redeem airline miles for, so fixed value currencies provide a good option to purchase these tickets with.


However there some disadvantages in fixed value points and that is for international travel. They generally will not get you very far in this area. An international business class ticket could require 100,000 airlines miles, but the retail price can be around $5000, therefore you would need over 500,000 points for example.


Flexible / Transferable Points


One of the big advantages of bank points compared with airline miles, is that you as a consumer are a bit protected from drastic changes or unannounced devaluations from particular airlines. So it often makes sense to focus on flexible points rather than transferable rewards.


These programs give you the advantage to transfer points directly to their airline or hotel partners. The result is a you have more options than fixed points when you decide to redeem your airline miles, also you have the option of searching for award availability across alliances prior to committing to a certain mileage currency.


There are three main flexible points currencies which are American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.


Here they are below

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Partners


AmeriMexico Club Premier

Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer

Starwood Preferred Guest Transfer Partners

Please also note that with American Express and Chase the transfers can be quick and often instant. On the other hand with SPG the transfers depending on the program can take up to a few weeks.


In summary, the type of points you collect will depend much on your travel goals. It is advisable that there is a balance between accumulating the most points or the most valuable points and the only way to figure out the best route for you is to know exactly where you want to travel.

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