The Best Ways to Fly to South Africa With Points and Miles

Cape Town South Africa

Full Disclosure: We may receive financial compensation when you click on links and are approved for credit card products from our advertising partners. Opinions and product recommendations on this site are ours alone, and have not been influenced, reviewed or approved by the issuer. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details. We appreciate your support!

Wine, beaches, Table Top Mountain, game reserves, and safaris are some of the things that come to mind when you think of South Africa. Located on the southernmost point of the African continent, South Africa is a country with so much to do and see.

The country is served by 2 major airports in O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town International (CPT). For U.S. travelers, nonstop flights fly into Johannesburg. For those of you unable to find a nonstop or looking to fly into Cape Town, you’ll likely route through Europe or another African airport from the United States.

Best Programs to Use to Book Flights

Even though South Africa is far from the U.S., you still have several flight options in both airports. Oneworld, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance partner airlines all offer flights between the U.S. and South Africa — great news for those of us who have flexibility in our travel plans.

As you read this article, the award pricing shown is round-trip. For those of you needing one-way flight options, you’ll want to avoid ANA and Korean Air as both of these programs require you to book round-trip flights.

With that behind us, let’s figure out how best to fly between the U.S. and South Africa!

Air Canada Aeroplan

Swiss Air Lines Business Class
Redeem Aeroplan miles to fly SWISS Air Lines. Image Credit: SWISS Air Lines
Cabin ClassStar Alliance Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy100,000$56+
Business150,000$56+
First210,000$1,585+

Starting off our list of award programs to use to book award flights to South Africa is Aeroplan. The program is best known for its award pricing for flights between the U.S. and Europe. What you may not have considered is using Aeroplan to fly to South Africa.

The main downside with Aeroplan is that fuel surcharges are passed on. This means that airlines like Lufthansa require that you pay substantial taxes and fees on award flights.

Hot Tip: Singapore business and first class and SWISS first class flights can only be booked with airline miles in their respective award programs. 

With the required number of Aeroplan miles in your account, below are a couple of example flights that you can book with Aeroplan miles:

  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Accra (ACC) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 100,000 Aeroplan miles in South African economy class
  • Chicago (ORD) – Zurich (ZRH) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 150,000 Aeroplan miles in SWISS business class

The process to book award flights is easy using these steps:

  1. Search for the award flight on United.
  2. Confirm the same availability on Aeroplan.
  3. Book the award flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning Aeroplan Miles

Aeroplan has partnerships with 3 transferable point programs, making it easy to earn Aeroplan miles with American Express, Capital One, and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition to these partnerships, Aeroplan has a co-branded credit card, the TD Aeroplan™ Visa Signature® Credit Card, that earns airline miles directly with your credit card spend.

For those of you wanting to use transferable points, American Express points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One miles transfer at a 2:1.5 ratio and Marriott point transfers take 5 days at a 3:1 ratio. With every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus.

If you’re looking to earn Capital One miles, here are the credit cards we recommend you check out:

Recommended Capital One Cards (Personal)

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card - This card is packed with a lot more benefits and perks. Earn a 50,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $500 toward travel) once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. We recommend this as a no-brainer card if you even semi-regularly stay at hotels.
Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card - This is an excellent card for those looking to earn 1.25x miles per $1 on every purchase. With a 20,000 mile sign up bonus (worth $200 toward travel) after spending $1,000 within the first 3 months and no annual fee, it's a strong choice.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class Flat-Bed
Alaska Airlines are great to use to fly Cathay Pacific business class. Image Credit: Greg Stone
Cabin ClassCathay Pacific Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy100,000$488+
Business125,000$488+
First140,000$488+

Long a fan-favorite in the miles and points world, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is a program that offers value for flights between the U.S. and South Africa. Alaska Airlines is well-known for the ability to book a stopover, not only on its flights but its partner airline flights as well.

Outside of Alaska Airlines miles being challenging to earn, the 2 downsides with this specific redemption are that you have to call Alaska Airlines to book the flight and Alaska Airlines may not see the same award space that you might find on American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, and Qantas.

Hot Tip: Familiarize with American Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas search engines as you’ll need them to search for Cathay Pacific award flights. We’ve covered this in our guide on searching for Oneworld award availability. 

Once you have enough Alaska Airlines miles to book a Cathay Pacific award flight, considering flying on one of these example routes:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 125,000 Alaska miles in Cathay Pacific business class
  • New York (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 140,000 Alaska miles in Cathay Pacific first class

Follow these steps below to help with your award flight booking process:

  1. Search for flights on American Airlines, British Airways, and Qantas.
  2. Call Alaska Airlines at 800-252-7522 to confirm award availability.
  3. Book the flight over the phone.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees, including the $12.50 partner airline award fee.

Earning Alaska Airlines Miles

It’s difficult to earn Alaska Airlines miles because the program has only 1 transferable point program partnership with Marriott Bonvoy and its co-branded card, the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, does not come with big welcome offers.

If you do have Marriott points, the point transfers to Alaska Airlines take 4 days at a 3:1 ratio. Also, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus with every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer to Alaska. All in all, here are the Marriott Bonvoy credit cards that we recommend:

Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards 

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card - Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Get automatic silver elite status each account anniversary year; and a free night award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card - Earn 30,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 3X points per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. A solid card for Marriott loyalists looking for a no-annual-fee card offering Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.
Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. A solid card for business owners who will get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy silver elite status. Annual fee is $125. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Business Card, click here.
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card - earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Earn 6x per $1 at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels plus 3x at U.S restaurants and flights booked directly with airlines. Annual fee is $450. Terms Apply. For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, click here.

Bottom Line: It’s hard to beat the award pricing offered by Alaska Airlines to fly Cathay Pacific economy, business, and first class flights to South Africa. 

American Airlines AAdvantage

Qatar QSuites 11F 11E Boeing 777
Use your American miles to fly Qatar business class. Image Credit: Alex Miller
Cabin ClassOneworld Airlines Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy80,000$76+
Business150,000$76+
First240,000$76+

A program familiar to many U.S. travelers is American Airlines AAdvantage. For this redemption, you’ll want to focus on using AAdvantage miles to fly Oneworld partner airline economy and business class flights. First class isn’t as competitive, so we recommend that you look elsewhere to book.

The primary downside with these flights is that you’ll likely be routed through Europe. Oneworld doesn’t offer nonstop flights between the U.S. and Africa, so your travel will be longer compared to Star Alliance and SkyTeam partner airline flights.

Hot Tip: Oneworld partner flights to Africa can only be booked transatlantic. American Airlines has several rules when flying between regions so we recommend researching all of your options before transferring any points. 

If you’re ready to book a flight to South Africa, here are a couple of example flights to get the ideas flowing:

  • New York (JFK) – Doha (DOH) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 80,000 American miles in Qatar economy class
  • Dallas (DFW) – Doha (DOH) – Cape Town (CPT) for 150,000 American miles in Qatar business class

Booking award flights with American miles is easy by following these steps:

  1. Search for flights on American Airlines.
  2. Book the flight online.
  3. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning American Airlines Miles

It’s easy to earn American Airlines miles because the airline has a partnership with Marriott Bonvoy and offers several co-branded credit cards. With the co-branded credit cards, you’ll earn American miles directly with your spending.

Marriott point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1 ratio — consider transferring 60,000 points at a time as you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus.

Bottom Line: The American Airlines AAdvantage program doesn’t have a ton of sweet spots, however, using American miles to fly Qatar may be one of them. 

ANA Mileage Club

Ethiopian business class
Fly Ethiopian business class using ANA miles. Image Credit: Ethiopian Airlines
Cabin ClassStar Alliance Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy65,000$377+
Business104,000$377+
First195,000$377+

The second Star Alliance program to join this list is ANA Mileage Club. ANA is best known for its competitive award prices when flying its flights to Japan. What you may not have known is that using ANA miles to book partner flights to South Africa can be a good value.

The main drawback of using ANA miles to book partner airline flights is that the flights must be booked round-trip. If you’re looking for maximum flexibility, other Star Alliance partners like Aeroplan and United may make more sense.

Hot Tip: Award pricing for Star Alliance economy and business class flights to South Africa is where ANA shines. The program offers the cheapest economy and business class flights that you can book on this list. 

Here are a couple of Star Alliance partner flight ideas for those of you who are ready to book a flight:

  • Newark (EWR) – Zurich (ZRH) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 65,000 ANA miles in SWISS economy class
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Addis (ADD) – Cape Town (CPT) for 104,000 ANA miles in Ethiopian business class

With the required number of ANA miles in your account, follow these steps to book your next award flight:

  1. Search for flights on United.
  2. Confirm the same availability on ANA.
  3. Book the flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning ANA Miles

Earning ANA miles should not be an issue because of ANA partners with both American Express and Marriott Bonvoy. When you earn points in these programs, the points can be transferred directly to ANA. Unfortunately, ANA doesn’t offer a credit card for the U.S. market, so you’ll want to focus on earning Amex and Marriott points.

Amex point transfers take 2-3 days at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott point transfers take 7 days at a 3:1 ratio. With that said, we recommend applying for these Amex credit cards first:

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth up to $600 towards travel.

However — you may be eligible for a (much) higher offer by using the CardMatch Tool. (There's no pull on your credit to check for personalized offers.)

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$2,700+ in value from the card every year. For rates & fees of the Platinum Card, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year; then 1x). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and up to $100 airfare fee credit per year, it's a strong choice. For rates & fees of the Gold Card, click here.

Recommended American Express Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually (then 1x). That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Bottom Line: Star Alliance airline partners in this list that offer one-way award flight options include Aeroplan, Avianca, and United. 

Asiana Airlines Asiana Club

Turkish Airlines 777-300ER business class
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER business class. Image Credit: Turkish Airlines
Cabin ClassStar Alliance Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy80,000$377+
Business120,000$377+
First160,000$377+

Another Star Alliance program to keep your eye on, and one that often gets overlooked, is Asiana Airlines Asiana Club. For economy, business, and first class flights, Asiana Airlines offers some of the most competitive award prices that you’ll find on this list.

What can be frustrating with Asiana Airlines is that partner award flights require a phone call to book. The Asiana Airlines website doesn’t allow you to search or book these flights online.

Hot Tip: United will be the best website to use to search for Star Alliance partner airline flights. You may also find that Aeroplan can be helpful to use to search for these flights as well.

When you’ve decided to make the trip to South Africa, consider booking these flights to get you there:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Zurich (ZRH) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 80,000 Asiana miles in SWISS economy class
  • Houston (IAH) – Istanbul (IST) – Cape Town (CPT) for 120,000 Asiana miles in Turkish Airline business class

To make the booking process easier with Asiana Airlines, use these steps when you’re ready to book a flight:

  1. Search for Star Alliance partner flights on United.
  2. Call Asiana Airlines at 800-227-4262 between 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. PST on Monday-Friday.
  3. Book the flight over the phone.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees over the phone.

Earning Asiana Airlines Miles

It’ll be challenging to earn Asiana Airlines miles as the airline only partners with Marriott Bonvoy. Also, Asiana Airlines offers 2 credit cards in the Asiana Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card and the Asiana Visa® Business Card, however, the signup bonuses and earn rates are modest on both cards.

For those of you with Marriott points, the point transfer takes 4 days at a 3:1 ratio. Separately, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus with every 60,000 Marriott points that you transfer.

Bottom Line: Asiana Airlines has competitive award prices for flights to South Africa. The challenge that you’ll have is earning enough Asiana miles to book these flights. 

Avianca LifeMiles

Lufthansa Business Class Cabin
Middle seats provide direct aisle access in Lufthansa business class. Image Credit: Lufthansa
Cabin ClassStar Alliance Miles CostTaxes and Fees
Economy80,000$150+
Business156,000$150+
First210,000$150+

A fourth Star Alliance program to check out is Avianca Lifemiles. Avianca is known for the ability to book Star Alliance flights without fuel surcharges. This is great news for flights to South Africa as you can fly Lufthansa with very few dollars out of pocket.

For these flights, Avianca business and first class pricing are on the high end, however, your taxes and fees will be lower, offsetting the additional miles you’ll spend.

The main downside with Avianca is that award availability shown on Lifemiles.com will not match what you find on United and Aeroplan. On top of that, calling Avianca is not a pleasant experience, so you’ll want to focus on booking these flights online.

Hot Tip: Lufthansa releases first class award space within 2 weeks of the departure date. If you’re looking to fly Lufthansa first class, you’ll need to flexible on your travel dates. 

Examples of flights that you can book to South Africa include:

  • Newark (EWR) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 156,000 Avianca miles in Lufthansa business class
  • Washington, D.C. (IAD) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 210,000 Avianca miles in Lufthansa first class

When you’re ready to book a flight using Avianca miles, below are the steps that will help with the process:

  1. Search for Star Alliance flights on United.
  2. Confirm the same award availability on Lifemiles.com.
  3. Book the flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees, including the $25 partner award fee.

Earning Avianca LifeMiles

Earning Avianca LifeMiles is easy because the airline has partnerships with American Express, Capital One, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy. Also, Avianca has 2 co-branded credit cards that earn Avianca Lifemiles with your spending.

If you have Amex, Capital One, Citi, and/or Marriott points, the transfer times and transfer ratios are as follows: Amex points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One Miles transfer instantly at a 2:1.5 ratio, Citi points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 24 hours at a 3:1 ratio. With Marriott transfers, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus with every 60,000 points that you transfer.

With that said, below are the Citi credit cards we recommend:

Best Citi Credit Card for TravelBenefitsDrawbacks
Citi Premier℠ Card3 ThankYou Points/dollar spent on travel/gas stations, 2 points/dollar on dining/entertainment, 1 point/dollar all other purchases$95 annual fee
Citi Prestige® Card5 ThankYou® Points/dollar spent on airlines and dining, 3 points/dollars on hotel and cruise lines, 1 point/dollar on all other purchases, transfer points to airline partners, 4th hotel night free (limited to 2 uses per calendar year), $250 airline credit, Priority Pass Lounge access + 2 guests, and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit$495 Annual Fee, must be a frequent traveler to maximize the benefits of the card.

Bottom Line: Avianca is one of the best programs to use to book premium cabin award flights on airlines like Lufthansa that have high fuel surcharges. 

Korean Air SKYPASS

Serengeti Tanzania
Go on a safari by using Korean Air miles to fly to South Africa. Image Credit: huchenme via Unsplash
Cabin ClassSkyTeam Airline Cost Taxes and Fees
Economy80,000$850+
Business120,000$850+

Korean Air SKYPASS is the 1 SkyTeam partner to make this list. The program has competitive award pricing for SkyTeam partner airline flights, particularly for those of you who want to fly economy and business class to South Africa.

2 drawbacks come to mind when using Korean Air miles: Korean Air passes on fuel surcharges, and it’s hard to earn Korean Air miles.

Hot Tip: The SKYPASS program uses region-based charts. This means that it’ll cost the same number of miles to fly from any U.S. city to South Africa on a SkyTeam partner airline. 

When you’ve accumulated enough Korean Air miles for a flight, consider booking one of these options:

  • Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 80,000 Korean Air miles in Delta economy class
  • New York (JFK) to Nairobi (NBO) – Cape Town (CPT) for 120,000 Korean Air miles in Kenya Airways business class

The process to book SkyTeam flights with Korean Air miles is as follows:

  1. Search for flights on Air France, Delta, or KLM.
  2. Confirm the same award availability on Korean Air.
  3. Book the award flight online.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees.

Earning Korean Air Miles

Korean Air co-branded credit cards and Marriott Bonvoy will be the combination you’ll need to earn Korean Air miles. The spend that you put on Korean Air credit cards will directly earn Korean Air miles.

When you have Marriott points, the point transfer time takes 2 days at a 3:1 ratio. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott points at a time, you’ll receive a 5,000-mile bonus.

Bottom Line: Korean Air economy and business class pricing to South Africa are some of the lowest you’ll find in this list. To confirm that Korean Air has the lowest SkyTeam award prices, we recommend checking the pricing offered on Air France, Delta, and KLM. 

United Airlines MileagePlus

Cape of Good Hope Cape Town South Africa
Use United miles to fly to South Africa. Image Credit: v_pictures via Unsplash
Cabin ClassUnited Airlines Cost Taxes and Fees
Economy80,000$150+
Business140,000$150+

The fifth Star Alliance program to make our list is United Airlines MileagePlus. Many U.S. travelers are familiar with United but you may not have thought to use United miles to fly to South Africa.

Economy and business class pricing aren’t the cheapest you’ll find, however, you won’t be on the hook for fuel surcharges, similar to Avianca.

One downside with United is that the program uses dynamic award pricing for its own flights. This means the award cost of a United flight will be tied to the cash cost of the flight. Partner airline flights like Lufthansa currently utilize an award chart, however, these flights may move to dynamic pricing in the future.

Hot Tip: United requires 3,500 additional miles one-way for partner award tickets booked within 30 days of departure. Award tickets when flying United flights also require additional miles: 2,500 additional miles for award tickets booked within 7 days of departure, 2,000 additional miles for award tickets booked between 7 and 26-27 days of departure, and 1,500 additional miles for award tickets booked between 26-27 and 30 days of departure.

Examples of Star Alliance flights that you can book with United Airlines miles include:

  • Houston (IAH) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 160,000 United miles in Lufthansa business class
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Istanbul (IST) – Cape Town (CPT) for 80,000 United miles in Turkish Airlines economy class

When you’re ready to book a flight, follow these steps to help with the process:

  1. Search for the flight on United.
  2. Book the flight online.
  3. Pay the taxes and fees online.

Earning United Airlines Miles

It’s easy to earn United Airlines miles because the airline has partnerships with Chase and Marriott. Also, United offers several co-branded credit cards that earn miles directly with your spending.

For those of you with Chase points, the points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1.1 ratio. Also, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles with every 60,000 Marriott point transfer.

Bottom Line: Avianca and United are Star Alliance programs to consider if you’re looking to reduce the amount of taxes and fees that you’ll need to pay. 

Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

South African Airways a330-300 business class
South African Airways A330-300 business class. Image Credit: South African Airways
Cabin ClassDelta Cost Taxes and Fees
Economy80,000$547+
Business120,000$1,019+

 

Cabin ClassSouth African Airways Cost Taxes and Fees
Economy100,000$575+
Business150,000$663+

Our last airline program, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, is not in an airline alliance. Instead, Virgin Atlantic has partnerships with individual airlines like Delta.

The drawback with Virgin Atlantic is that its website can be challenging to use. We recommend familiarizing yourself with how to use the search engine. That way the booking process will be familiar when you’re ready to book a flight.

Hot Tip: Virgin Atlantic charges additional miles for connecting flights. The award prices shown in the charts above assume nonstop flights between the U.S. and South Africa. 

If your miles are already in your Virgin Atlantic account, here are a couple of example flights to South Africa:

  • Newark (EWR) – Johannesburg (EWR) for 150,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in South African business class
  • Atlanta (ATL) – Johannesburg (JNB) for 80,000 Virgin Atlantic miles in Delta economy class

Use the steps below to help yourself when booking Delta flights:

  1. Search for Delta flights on Virgin Atlantic.
  2. Book the Delta flight online.
  3. Pay the taxes and fees online.

For South African flights, the steps below will help in the process:

  1. Search for South African flights on United.
  2. Call Virgin Atlantic at 800-365-9500 to book the South African flight.
  3. Book the flight over the phone.
  4. Pay the taxes and fees over the phone.

Hot Tip: Virgin Atlantic announced it’s partnerships with Air France and KLM have been updated. As of February 2020, you can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles to book Air France and KLM award tickets.

Earning Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles

Virgin Atlantic has partnerships with American Express, Chase, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy making it easy to earn Virgin Atlantic miles. The airline also offers a co-branded credit card for the U.S. market that earns Virgin Atlantic miles with your spending.

You’ll want to keep these transfer times and ratios in mind if you have transferable points: Amex point transfers take 1-2 days at a 1:1 ratio, Chase points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Citi point transfers take 2 days a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott point transfers take 1 day at a 3:1 ratio. Marriott point transfers of 60,000 points receive a 5,000-mile bonus.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card which has a 60,000 point bonus (highest ever) after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

This sign up bonus is worth $750 in travel purchases (flights, hotels, car rentals etc) when you redeem your points through Chase's travel portal, which works like Expedia. The bonus alone could get you multiple round-trip flights or hotel stays.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - Consider this premium card if you want to get into a lot of airport lounges. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® - A simple, no annual fee card that earns you a $150 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 1.5% cash-back on all purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits or the ability to earn bonus points with this card.

Recommended Chase Cards (Business)

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - This is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards for travel purchases (flights, hotels etc). Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year.
Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card - earn $500 bonus cash back after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash back on a range of business expenses such as office supply stores, internet, cable, and phone services.

Bottom Line: When you need to book Delta flights, we recommend Virgin Atlantic as one of the first places to go to book award flights. 

Final Thoughts

South Africa is a country that you’ll see on many travel lists. What’s likely not covered in those lists is how best to use miles and points to get there. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll be one step ahead of the curve.

All in all, we recommend earning transferable American Express, Capital One, Chase, Citi, and Marriott points. That way, when an award program devaluation occurs, you can simply look to other award programs to book flights instead.


The information regarding the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Citi Premier℠ Card, Citi Prestige® Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, click here.


Frequently asked questions

Can I use United miles on South African Airways?

Yes! You can use your United Airlines miles to fly South African Airways to South Africa.

What is the best airline to fly to Africa?

ANA offers the cheapest economy and business class award flights to South Africa. You’ll want to use Alaska miles to fly the cheapest first class flight to South Africa.

Will American Airlines fly to Africa?

American Airlines currently doesn’t offer nonstop flights Africa or South Africa.

Where do you fly into South Africa?

The 2 major airports in South Africa are Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT).

Michael McHugh

About Michael McHugh

Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Michael took his first international trip in 2013 with friends to the Bahamas. Although he didn't travel much in his younger years, on that trip, he caught the travel bug and has been hooked ever since. Michael first caught wind of the points and miles game in 2014 while at a bar in Washington, DC where the conversation amongst friends was quickly derailed because of an alert on a friend's phone about a mistake fare.  That's where the love affair with points and miles began.

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.

Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.