# Upgrade Your Redemptions: How To Redeem for the Best Value

We may be compensated when you click on certain links from our advertising partners, such as American Express, Chase and Barclaycard. We are very grateful if you decide to do so! Opinions expressed on this site are ours alone and have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer. Pls see here for details.

So, now you’ve got a bunch of points and you’re ready to redeem. Congratulations!

If you’re confused about where to start, don’t worry. It can be quite overwhelming to figure out if you’re getting the best deal or not, but we’ve got you covered.

- How To Maximize Your Redemptions
- How To Redeem Airline Miles
- How To Redeem Hotel Points
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards

**We will have more guides describing some best practices for redeeming points soon. **

Until then, understand that our goal is to get the most value for your points, usually calculated in $/pt or $/100pts. For you personally, remember that value can also come in some intangible forms as well (such as a status upgrade, experience, etc.).

CONTENTS

- Tools To Help You Use Miles and Points
- Advanced Strategies For Using Miles and Points
- How To Make Your Own Points Valuation and Choose the Optimal Redemption
- Example 1 – Step 1: Log in and Search
- Example 1 – Step 2: Choose a Flight and Determine its Cost
- Example 1 – Step 3: Find an Equivalent Full Fare Flight for Comparison
- Example 1 – Step 4: Calculate the Value of the Points (WARNING: MATH)
- Example 2 – Step 1: Find a Full Fare Flight to Compare
- Example 2 – Step 2: Find the Equivalent Cost in Points and Taxes/Fees
- Example 2 – Step 3: Calculate the Value of the Points (WARNING: MATH)

- Points Valuation Summary

Table of Contents

- Tools To Help You Use Miles and Points
- Advanced Strategies For Using Miles and Points
- How To Make Your Own Points Valuation and Choose the Optimal Redemption
- Example 1 – Step 1: Log in and Search
- Example 1 – Step 2: Choose a Flight and Determine its Cost
- Example 1 – Step 3: Find an Equivalent Full Fare Flight for Comparison
- Example 1 – Step 4: Calculate the Value of the Points (WARNING: MATH)
- Example 2 – Step 1: Find a Full Fare Flight to Compare
- Example 2 – Step 2: Find the Equivalent Cost in Points and Taxes/Fees
- Example 2 – Step 3: Calculate the Value of the Points (WARNING: MATH)

- Points Valuation Summary

## Tools To Help You Use Miles and Points

First, if you’re going to be traveling internationally you will need to have a passport. You can learn how to get your first passport or how to renew your passport with the guides here on Upgraded Points.

In addition, you may be interested in having some advanced security access and expediting your time through customs. In this case, you may want to check out the Global Entry program, which allows you to do just that.

Before going abroad, you may want to review some security tips to help you prevent fraud in case your things are stolen. Check out our guide on how to prevent credit card fraud.

Finally, finding great fares and flights that you can use for redemptions isn’t always as easy as signing into your account. You may have to get creative and do some research!

The ITA Matrix is a great tool to do that. Learn how to use the ITA Matrix with our detailed guide, and then move on to some more advanced techniques.

**Hot Tip: **Until recently you could not book any itineraries you found in the ITA Matrix very easily. Now, a couple of guys have created BookWithMatrix.com, which makes it simple!

## Advanced Strategies For Using Miles and Points

Now that you’ve got the basics started, you may be curious about the advanced strategies that allow people to get multiple redemptions per year and really maximize value.

We are still updating our advanced strategy guide, but below are a few tips to start with.

### Maximizing the Open Jaw and Stopover Rules

Open jaws are perhaps the most powerful feature to help you to maximize the value of your redemption. The caveat? You’ve got to be a little more flexible or have some extra time on your hands to use them.

If you can, you’ll be able to visit multiple cities on your vacation, all for the price of a single ticket!

An open jaw means you’re going from Destination A to Destination D, but you’re going to get from B to C in some other fashion (perhaps train or car), then **depart from Destination C for Destination D**.

Stopovers are more like layovers, except you spend **more than 24 hours at your destination**.

Here are some airlines that allow these types of flights and the number allowed:

Airline | Open Jaws Allowed Per Round-Trip | Stopovers Allowed Per-Round Trip |

Alaska | 2 | 2 |

Asia Miles | 2 | 4 |

Lufthansa | 2 | 2 |

United | 2 | 1 |

Air Canada | 1 | Up to 2 |

Delta | 1 | 1 |

Emirates | 1 | Up to 2 |

Flying Blue | 1 | 1 |

JAL | 1 | 7 |

JetBlue | 1 | 0 |

LATAM | 1 | 1 |

Thai Airways | 1 | 2 |

Virgin America | 1 | 1 |

Virgin Atlantic | 1 | 0 |

British Airways | 0 | Unlimited, within reason |

** Note: Always check rules with the airline before finalizing plans, as rules can change or include caveats (such as non-eligibility within North American flights).*

## How To Make Your Own Points Valuation and Choose the Optimal Redemption

In general, you want to try to get an absolute minimum of $0.02 per point to get the highest quality redemptions. The typical redemption value is $0.01 per point, so the better you can get the better you are doing!

Let’s go through an example to show you how to calculate the optimal value for points. How about a trip to Frankfurt, Germany? We’ll assume we’re starting from the Dallas airport (DFW).

### Example 1 – Step 1: Log in and Search

First, you’ll log into your AA account:

Once here, you’ll need to go into the screen for redeeming miles:

You’ll have to scroll down and click on “Book now” to get to the flight booking screen. Alternatively, you can go back to the home page and just input your parameters there. **Don’t forget to check “Redeem Miles.”**

From here, you’ll put in your search parameters. Since we’re using the example of going from DFW to Frankfurt (FRA), you’ll see that in the above search boxes.

Once you have chosen your dates and the number of travelers (1 for the ease of example), you can click “Search” and the next screen will show up.

### Example 1 – Step 2: Choose a Flight and Determine its Cost

The next screen will ask you to confirm your dates and show you the cheapest flight option on that date.

Click continue to move on to the specific flight selection. On this screen, you will choose the inbound and outbound flights you want on the chosen dates.

After clicking continue, you’ll see how many points and dollars it will cost to book this flight.

For this flight, you can see the total is 40,000 miles PLUS $114.60. If you wanted to book this, you’d just continue putting in all your information and going through the rest of the screens.

### Example 1 – Step 3: Find an Equivalent Full Fare Flight for Comparison

The next thing we would do to find the valuation would be to **see what ****an equivalent flight would c****ost **on the same dates. This shows us how much cash we would be spending so we can compare the 2 costs and find a value for our points.

Grab the same flight details and search for a non-redemption flight to find the cost.

The comparison cost for this flight is $1,540.50; how does that stack up? To work through this evaluation, you need a way to compare the value of one versus the other.

This means we need to know how much the points are worth in terms of dollars. Unfortunately, that means a little math!

### Example 1 – **Step 4: Calculate the Value of the Points (WARNING: MATH)**

The following basic equation will help you understand what your points are worth. Your full fare flight is equal to the taxes of the award flight plus a number of points **at some unknown value**.

$1,540.50 (full-fare flight) = $114.60 (taxes/fees) + 40,000*[**x**] (awards flight cost in points)

[**x**] = value of the points in $/pt

We want to solve for [**x**] in order to find out what portion of the full fare our points “pay for.”

When we solve the equation for [**x**], we find that [**x**] = $0.036. That’s a pretty good value! (Remember we discussed above that some points only get you $0.01 each in value.)

**Bottom Line: **To find the best value, you should search for awards flights and choose a desired one, then find an equivalent full-priced fare and solve the above equation to determine the value of the points you are spending.

### Example 2 – Step 1: Find a Full Fare Flight to Compare

Let’s try another example so to make sure you understand. This time, you’ll go from New York to Berlin. By searching on Kayak, you find that United has a decent price on a flight to Berlin (TXL) from LaGuardia (LGA).

**A United flight from Kayak.com*

Then, you sign in to your United account and get to your redemption screen for these same dates to check the rewards cost (we won’t go through all the screens again this time).

### Example 2 – Step 2: Find the Equivalent Cost in Points and Taxes/Fees

**United’s award flight screen showing flights for 30k points*

You find that United doesn’t even have any rewards flights out of LGA, but you do see Air Canada partner flights under their rewards screen.

Next, you go ahead and select the similar flights on Air Canada. (Note that you won’t always be able to find exact matches, so just choose the best deal to compare.)

**United’s award summary screen after choosing Air Canada flights*

### Example 2 – Step 3**: Calculate the Value of the Points **(WARNING: MATH)

The final cost of this flight is 60,000 points and $134.50 in taxes versus the $1,791.60 flight from Kayak.com. Applying the same formula:

$1,791.60= $134.50 + 60,000*[**x**]

You find that [**x**] = $0.027. Not as good as value as the previous example, but still above the $0.02 minimum you want to shoot for.

## Points Valuation Summary

Now you know a little more about points valuation. As your skills of comparison improve, you’ll find yourself squeezing great value out of the points you’ve earned!

We are always interested in hearing your best valuations since sharing and feedback from our community is how we get better. So let us know your favorite valuations and redemptions!

In summary:

- Find the cash value of the flight you are looking for
- Find the award value (points + taxes/fees) of the flight
- Find out how much value the points add to the award compared to the full fare

[**FULL FARE**] = [**POINTS**]*[**X**] + [**TAXES/FEES**]

[**X**] = Value of the Points

**Part 13: Must See Resources >>**