The 12 “Best of The Best” Ways To Use Your Points & Miles [For Incredible Value]

Emirates First Class A380 - Seat 2E Enjoying A Movie

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High-value redemptions are available with all of the transferable point programs. From redeeming Chase points to Amex points, Citi points, and SPG points, you have many options.

The key to using points for award travel is to leverage the partners within each program.

Earning Transferable Points

The first and most important thing to keep in mind when looking for redemptions is to focus on earning points for the program that you plan to use. We recommend focusing on transferable points, as they provide you with flexibility in case a program devaluation occurs.

Our preferred option is to collect Chase Ultimate Rewards. They are preferred mainly because of the various ways to earn bonus points through category spending; for example, dining and travel purchases.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

We also really like collecting American Express Membership Rewards, as they can be transferred to a number of different airline and hotel partners. This gives you a lot of options.

Recommended Amex Cards (Personal)

Recommended Amex Cards (Business)

Of course, Citi has credit cards that collect transferrable Citi ThankYou points. Starwood’s credit cards collect StarPoints.

This guide shares 12 of the best point redemptions out there. From Emirates First Class to Cathay Pacific first class, you’ll be covered with options for your next big trip.

12 Best Of The Best Points and Miles Redemptions

1. Fly Singapore Suites From the U.S. to Australia (Singapore KrisFlyer)

Upgraded Points on Singapore Suites, Flight 1 - Round the World Trip
Alex and Erin kicking it back in Singapore Suites!

Singapore Airlines has an incredible redemption when flying from the U.S. to Australia. The KrisFlyer award chart is zone-based for Singapore Airlines flights.

With 152,000 Singapore Airlines miles, you can fly from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) to Singapore (SIN) to Sydney (SIN) all in Singapore Suites! The taxes on this route work out to only about $76, which is incredible!

Hot Tip: As you might expect, award availability can be tough if you’re not searching far out in advance. With a little patience, you can be flying for nearly 27 hours in Singapore Suites! 

2. Fly Etihad In The Apartments (American Airlines AAdvantage)

The Apartments from Etihad is likely the most premium seat you can book with points. Calling it a seat doesn’t come close to doing it justice.

With 115,000 American Airlines miles, you can fly one-way from the U.S. to the Middle East in one of the best first-class products available.

Etihad First Class Apartment - Apartment 4K

The only way to fly this route from the U.S. is the New York (JFK) to Abu Dhabi (AUH) flight on an A380.

Hot Tip: Don’t search for availability the normal way by looking for a one-way between JFK >AUH on Eithad’s website. Instead, search for first-class availability on the Etihad website by searching round-trip from Abu Dhabi to New York. When you find Guest First availability on the New York to Abu Dhabi flight, call the American Airlines Australian call center to put the flight on hold. With the ticket on hold, call American Airlines U.S. reservations to book the ticket.

Need helping book this award? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Etihad First Class.

Bottom Line: Searching for a round-trip award ticket starting in Abu Dhabi will make finding availability much easier. If you search one-way from New York to Abu Dhabi, you will have trouble locating availability. Strange, but true!

3. Fly Emirates First Class From the U.S. to the Middle East (Japan Airlines Mileage Bank)

Emirates First Class A380 - Seat with Amenities & Excitement
Fly to the Middle East on Emirates!

Flying Emirates First Class is nothing short of majestic. Do everything in your power to make it happen!

Japan Airlines uses a distance-based award chart that calculates the mileage required based on the total distance of your itinerary.

Emirates flies non-stop to Dubai (DXB) from the following U.S. airports:

  • Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Orlando (MCO), San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA), and Washington (IAD).

With 100,000 Japan Airlines miles, you can book a one-way first class flight on Emirates from the U.S. to the Middle East. For 63,000 Japan Airlines miles, you can fly one-way from the U.S. to the Middle East in business class.

Flights from Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle are more than 8,000 (plane) miles one-way and will price at 105,000 Japan Airlines miles one-way.

The main downside to booking Emirates first class tickets are the taxes and fees. Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $842 one-way in taxes and fees.

You can now search for availability directly on the JAL site.

As with any first-class redemption, availability will be limited. We recommended using Expert Flyer to find first-class award availability.

Starwood Preferred Guest partners with many airline programs as part of the new SPG/Marriott/Ritz-Carlton program. You can transfer your SPG points to Japan Airlines at a 1:1 ratio to book this award.

Hot Tip: For every 20,000 SPG points transferred to an airline partner, you will receive a 5,000-mile bonus. The limit to earn the 5,000-mile bonus is 60,000 SPG points every 24 hours. 

Need help booking a trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Emirates First Class.

4. Fly Qantas First Class From the U.S. to Australia or New Zealand (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan) 

Qantas First Class
Fly to Australia on Qantas!

Qantas flies non-stop from:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL), and Brisbane (BNE)
  • San Francisco (SFO) to Sydney
  • Dallas (DFW) to Sydney

With 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles, you can book a one-way first class flight on Qantas from the U.S. to Australia. You can also book a one-way Qantas business class flight for 55,000 miles.

The primary challenge with this redemption will be award availability. Expert Flyer is your friend here, as these are popular long-haul routes in premium cabins.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $52 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in first class on Qantas.

Need help booking this trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Qantas First Class.

Bottom Line: Most long-haul flights in premium cabins will be tough to find award availability, and Qantas is no different. Reviewing our step-by-step guide will help in booking this award ticket. 

5. Fly Cathay Pacific First Class From the U.S. to Asia or Africa (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan)

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat
Fly to Asia on Cathay Pacific!

Flying Cathay Pacific to both Southeast Asia and then to South Africa for no additional cost in miles is a unique opportunity. The reason you can do this is because of Cathay Pacific stopover rules.

With 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles, you can fly Cathay Pacific first class one-way to Hong Kong (HKG). Business class is 50,000 miles one-way and would also be a great way to use your Alaska Airlines miles.

What makes this redemption even more valuable is the ability to add a stopover in Hong Kong. For the same 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles, you can fly from the U.S. in first class, stopover in Hong Kong, and continue to Johannesburg (JNB) in business class (first class is not offered).

If you were required to book 2 separate itineraries, you would need 112,500 miles based on the Alaska award chart, 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles to fly from the U.S. to Hong Kong, plus 42,500 miles to fly from Hong Kong to Johannesburg.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $139 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in first class from the U.S. to Johannesburg with a stopover in Hong Kong. The U.S. to Hong Kong flight is in first class, while the Hong Kong to Johannesburg flight is in business class.

Need help booking this trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Cathay Pacific First Class.

Bottom Line: Flying Cathay Pacific from the U.S. to Africa with a stopover in Asia in 2 premium cabins at this price may be one of the best redemptions you’ll find when using your Alaska Airlines miles. 

6. Fly Japan Airlines First Class From North America to Asia (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan)

Japan Airlines First Class Seat
Fly to Japan on Japan Airlines!

Japan Airlines is known to have one of the best first class products in the industry. With Alaska Airlines, you can enjoy one of these long-haul flights for an affordable amount of miles.

Japan Airlines flies non-stop to Narita (NRT) from the following U.S. airports, giving you multiple cities to search for award flights:

  • Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), and Vancouver (YVR)

With 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles, you can book a one-way first-class Japan Airlines flight from the U.S. to Japan. For 60,000 miles, you can fly Japan Airlines business class.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $118 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in first class on Japan Airlines.

Need help booking this trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Japan Airlines First Class.

7. Fly Lufthansa First Class From the U.S. to Europe (Asiana Airlines Asiana Club)

lufthansa first class a380
Try the amazing Lufthansa first class by flying to Germany from the U.S.!

The Asiana Airlines Asiana Club award chart doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it should be on your radar.

Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt (FRA) from the following U.S. airports:

  • Atlanta (ATL), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), Philadelphia (PHL), San Diego (SAN), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), Seattle (SEA), Tampa (TPA), and Washington (IAD)

Lufthansa flies to Munich (MUC) from the following U.S. airports:

  • Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Charlotte (CLT), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington (IAD)

With 50,000 Asiana miles, you can book a one-way first-class flight on Lufthansa to Germany. For 40,000 miles, you can fly one-way in business class on Lufthansa.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $524 one-way in taxes and fees to fly Lufthansa First Class.

Need help booking this award? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Lufthansa First Class.

Hot Tip: Award availability in a premium cabin on Lufthansa will be challenging to find. We recommend reviewing our step-by-step guide as well as the Asiana award program to help book this award ticket. 

8. Fly Business Class From the U.S. to Europe (Korean Air SKYPASS)

Delta One Suite Middle Seats
Fly to Europe on Delta One!

Korean Air offers one of the best business class options when flying to Europe. The Korean Air award chart groups Europe into 1 region, which opens up a significant number of opportunities on a SkyTeam partner like Delta.

With 80,000 Korean Air miles, you can fly round-trip from the U.S. to Europe. For 50,000 fewer miles, you can enjoy a round-trip flight in economy.

Korean Air allows you to add in a stopover and an open jaw, which further increases this redemption value. The main downside with the program is that you must book round-trip when flying on a Korean Air partner such as Air France.

The taxes and fees will vary depending on the airline and route you are flying. We recommend using ITA Flight Matrix to estimate your taxes and fees before booking this award.

Chase partners with several airline programs, including Korean Air. Just transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Korean Air at a 1:1 ratio and book this award!

Need help booking a trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Delta One (business class).

Hot Tip: Korean Air is one of the best ways to fly round-trip in business class to Europe. It can be challenging to search for availability on Korean Air’s website, so we recommend searching for SkyTeam availability first on Delta, Air France, or KLM. When you find availability, double check the availability by searching for the flights on the Korean Air website. See our booking guide on completing your booking!

9. Fly Round-Trip ANA Business Class From the U.S. to Japan (ANA Mileage Club)

ANA Business Class
Fly to Asia in business class on ANA!

ANA has several award charts, and the one to use for this redemption is the ANA international award chart. The program is nuanced, with the points required driven by the zones of your departure and destination, and the date you are flying.

ANA flies non-stop to Narita (NRT) from the following U.S. airports:

  • Chicago (ORD), Houston (IAH), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO), San Jose (SJC), Seattle (SEA), and Washington (IAD)

ANA also flies non-stop to Haneda (HND) from:

  • Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK)

During the 2019 low season (January 7-February 28, April 1-25), you can fly round-trip in business class from the U.S. to Japan for 75,000 miles. Flying round-trip in economy could be an even better option at 40,000 miles in the low season.

ANA allows 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws on ANA flights. With these allowances, you can add a connecting flight after you land in Japan. You can also fly out of a different airport than the one you landed in (i.e., fly into Narita (NRT) and out of Haneda (HND)).

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $261 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in business class on ANA.

American Express Membership Rewards partners with many airline programs, including ANA. Transfer your Membership Rewards points to ANA at a 1:1 to book this award.

Need help booking a trip? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking ANA business class.

10. Fly From North America to Asia (ANA Mileage Club)

Another ANA redemption to consider is on the ANA award chart in the Asia Zone 1 region. ANA groups Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Manila, among others, in this region.

With 80,000 ANA miles, you can fly round-trip in ANA business class during the low season. For 45,000 miles, you can fly round-trip in economy during the low season.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $265 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in business class on ANA.

Need more ways to redeem ANA miles? Here are 11 Additional Ways To Redeem ANA Miles.
Bottom Line: ANA is a great program if you are putting together a trip to Asia. Flying during the low season on ANA can provide high value for your ANA miles. 

11. Fly LATAM Premium Business Class From the U.S. to South America (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan)

LATAM's B787 Business class has a fresh new look and you can use your American Airlines miles to fly it! Image courtesy of luxurytraveldiary.com.
Fly to South America in LATAM Business Class! Image courtesy of luxurytraveldiary.com.

LATAM flies non-stop from:

  • Los Angeles (LAX), Miami (MIA), and New York (JFK) to Chile (SCL)
  • Boston (BOS), Miami, and New York to Brazil (GRU)
  • New York to Argentina (EZE); and Miami to Brazil (GIG)

With 45,000 Alaska Airlines miles, you can book a one-way LATAM business class flight from the U.S. to South America. For 35,000 miles, you can fly one-way in economy on LATAM.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $28 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in business class on LATAM.

Need more ways to redeem SPG points? Here are the 45 Best Ways To Redeem SPG Points.

12. Fly Etihad in Business From the U.S. To the Middle East or Africa (Asiana Airlines Asiana Club)

Asiana has another high-value redemption with a one-way flight from the U.S. to the Middle East. If you’re not flying round-trip as mentioned in the ANA/Etihad redemption, this is a great one-way option! 

With 60,000 Asiana miles, you can book a one-way business class flight on Etihad to the Middle East. For 40,000 miles, you can fly one-way in economy on Etihad.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $30 one-way in taxes and fees to fly Etihad Business Class.

Need help booking using Etihad miles? Here are the 15 Best Ways To Redeem Etihad Guest Miles

In Conclusion

Knowing how to leverage award programs with your transferable points can open up some incredible redemptions. If flying in premium cabins is your goal, you have a number of high-value options to choose from after reading this article.

It’s important to factor in the taxes and fees, particularly with Emirates, Etihad, and Lufthansa. Even with high taxes and fees, these experiences may be worth the out-of-pocket spend!


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13 Best of the Best Ways to Use Your Points & Miles

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8 comments

  1. Kenny · May 21, 2018 · Reply

    And I thought The Points Guy loved pics of himself.

    C’mon.

    • I think it’s important to show that we do in fact “practice what we preach”. Honestly, I like to put in a mix of pics – some with us in, and many without. 🙂 Each blog has their preferences – sorry if you’re not a fan of ours!

  2. Chris · May 23, 2018 · Reply

    As of December of last year, I believe ANA miles can no longer be used for Etihad flights, which would eliminate #12. Please verify. Thanks.

    • Michael McHugh · May 29, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Chris

      I just heard back from ANA who confirmed the ANA/Etihad partnership is still on hold. ANA was not able to provide a timetable on when the partnership will resume. I’ll update the article to reflect this information. Thank you for bringing this up in the comments.

  3. Great informative article.

    • Michael McHugh · May 24, 2018 · Reply

      We’re glad you found the article informative David. Thanks for reading!

  4. paul martin · May 27, 2018 · Reply

    i have saved chase points, amex points and aeroplan, as well as some aa points and emirates points. i would be very interested to see or hear your thoughts on an around the world trip starting somewhere in the US and ending in US flying only in suites maybe 4 or 5 destinations, using points, or point leveraging on either one way flights or combination.
    thxs for the article it opened up some creative travelling ideas.

    regards

    • Michael McHugh · May 31, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Paul

      Be on the lookout for an article on this topic next week. We may have something right up your alley!

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