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The 16 “Best of The Best” Ways To Use Your Points & Miles [For Incredible Value]

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Michael McHugh
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Michael McHugh

Former Content Contributor

63 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 15U.S. States Visited: 32

Michael fell in love with points and miles back in 2014 and since then has built up a vast knowledge of award programs and has striven to show readers how to receive the maximum value when using their...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

Editor-in-Chief

35 Published Articles 3230 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 47U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...
& Kellie Jez
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Kellie Jez

Director of Operations & Compliance

6 Published Articles 1178 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 10U.S. States Visited: 20

Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s c...

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High-value redemptions are available with all of the transferable point programs. You’ll have many options when redeeming points or miles from Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy.

The key to using points for award travel is to leverage the best travel partners within each program. We’ll look at some redemptions that maximize the value of your points to the extreme and provide amazing experiences, like Emirates first class and Cathay Pacific first class. You’ll be covered with a ton of choices and inspiration for your next big trip.

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 or your travel plans change.

Our preferred option is to collect Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards. They are favored mainly because of the various ways to earn bonus points through welcome offers and category spending; for example, they can provide lots of bonus points for dining and travel purchases.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
$695
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

BEST FOR DINING
American Express® Gold CardTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!

Learn More(at Amex's secure site)

Apply With Confidence

Know if you're approved with no credit score impact

If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.

This is the best card for food lovers who dine out at restaurants (worldwide), order take-out and want big rewards at U.S. supermarkets!
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
60,000 points
$1,320
$250
See Pay Over Time APR
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The American Express® Gold Card is a game-changer.

With this card, you can earn 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants and you’ll also earn 4x Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1x.

There isn’t another card on the market that offers a 1-2 punch like this. Of course, there are several other benefits of the Gold Card as well, including extra monthly dining rewards and more.

Pros
  • 4x points per dollar at restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
  • 4x points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases; and 1x thereafter
  • 3x points per dollar on flights purchased directly from airlines or at AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Get a $100 experience credit with a minimum two-night stay when you book The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel. Experience credit varies by property.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: See Pay Over Time APR
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 90,000 points with the Amex Gold card. The current public offer is 60,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

Business owner? See our list of the best Amex business credit cards.

Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.

A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's worth over $900 when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.
75,000 points
$1,500
$95
21.49%-28.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Good to Excellent (670-850)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® card is one of the best travel rewards cards on the market. Its bonus categories include travel, dining, online grocery purchases, and streaming services, which gives you the opportunity to earn lots of bonus points on these purchases.

Additionally, it offers flexible point redemption options, no foreign transaction fees, and excellent travel insurance coverage including primary car rental insurance. With benefits like these, it’s easy to see why this card is an excellent choice for any traveler.

Pros
  • 5x points on all travel booked via the Chase Travel portal
  • 5x points on select Peloton purchases over $150 (through March 31, 2025)
  • 5x points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025)
Cons
  • $95 annual fee
  • No elite benefits like airport lounge access or hotel elite status
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s over $900 when you redeem through Chase TravelSM.
  • Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase TravelSM, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase TravelSM. For example, 75,000 points are worth $937.50 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 21.49%-28.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve®
U.P. Rating 
The rating for this card has been determined by our own industry experts who know the in's and out's of credit card products. Bonuses, rewards as well as rates and fees are all taken into account. Compensation from the issuer does not affect our rating. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse.

A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.

A top player in the high-end premium travel credit card space that earns 3x points on travel and dining while offering top luxury perks.
Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's worth $1,125 when redeemed through Chase Travel℠.
75,000 points
$1,500
$550
22.49%-29.49% Variable
Upgraded Points credit ranges are a variation of FICO®Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit cardapplication.
Excellent (740-850)

If you’re looking for an all-around excellent travel rewards card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the best options out there.

The card combines elite travel benefits and perks like airport lounge access, with excellent point earning and redemption options.  Plus it offers top-notch travel insurance protections to keep you covered whether you’re at home or on the road.

Don’t forget the $300 annual travel credit which really helps to reduce the annual fee!

Pros
  • 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually
  • 10x points on Lyft purchases March 31, 2025
  • 10x points on Peloton equipment and accessory purchases over $250 through March 31, 2025
Cons
  • $550 annual fee
  • Does not offer any sort of hotel elite status
  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase TravelSM.
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase TravelSM immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase TravelSM. For example, 75,000 points are worth $1125 toward travel.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority PassTM Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Member FDIC
Financial Snapshot
  • APR: 22.49%-29.49% Variable
  • Foreign Transaction Fees: $0
Rewards Center

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Business owner? See our list of the best Chase business credit cards.

Of course, Citi has credit cards that collect transferable Citi ThankYou Points, as does Capital One.

16 Best Of The Best Points and Miles Redemptions

1. Fly ANA First Class From the U.S. to Tokyo (Virgin Atlantic Flying Club)

ANA New 777 The Suite First Class Cabin
ANA New 777 The Suite first class. Image Credit: All Nippon Airways

If you’re looking for the golden ticket in first class combining the best products in commercial aviation with the absolute best value for your points, you simply can’t go wrong by booking ANA first class using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points.

ANA first class is already an absolutely stellar, top-notch first class product, regardless of its ability to be booked using points. You’ll enjoy an enormous and lavish private suite, impeccable service, multi-course meals, and endless amenities.

But the feature of ANA first class that makes it so incredible is that this product can be booked using points from Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at a mind-boggling rate:

  • 55,000 Virgin Points one-way between the western U.S. and Tokyo (including San Francisco and Los Angeles)
  • 60,000 Virgin Points one-way between the central or eastern U.S. and Tokyo (including Chicago and New York)

Taxes and fees will run around $364 one-way, which is a drop in the bucket compared to the ticket’s cash price which can easily exceed $13,000 in each direction. That’s a whopping redemption value of around 21 cents per point. Simply incredible.

Now, keep in mind that ANA first class availability is very difficult to find (though not impossible), so stay committed in your award search! We recommend searching on United’s website and then calling Virgin Atlantic Flying Club at 800-365-9500 after you’ve located availability to book your tickets.

Virgin Atlantic is an Amex transfer partner , Bilt Rewards partner, Chase transfer partner, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. Also, if you link your Virgin Atlantic account to your Virgin Red account, you can transfer Capital One miles to Virgin Red to book these flights.

2. Fly Singapore First Class (Maybe Even Suites) From the U.S. to Australia (Singapore KrisFlyer)

Singapore Airlines new A380 First Suite Double Bed
Imagine this as your view when kicking it back in Singapore Suites! Image Credit: Greg Stone

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

With 188,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles, you can fly from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA) to Singapore (SIN) to Sydney (SYD) in Singapore Airlines first class and even in Singapore SuitesThe taxes on this route work out to only about $76, which is incredible!

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is transfer partners with Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy, which makes it easy to earn lots of KrisFlyer miles.

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! 

3. Fly Etihad in The Apartments (American Airlines AAdvantage)

Etihad First Class Apartment - Dining Soup
Etihad First Class Apartment. Image Credit: Alex Miller

The Apartments from Etihad is one of the most premium seats you can book with points. Calling it a seat doesn’t come close to doing it justice — and as of 2023, you can fly these between London (LHR) and Abu Dhabi (AUH).

With 62,500 American AAdvantage miles, you can fly one-way from Europe to the Middle East in one of the best first class products available.

American Airlines AAdvantage is transfer partners with Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. In addition, you can earn AAdvantage miles through Barclays and Citi co-branded credit cards.

Hot Tip: We recommend searching for availability on Air Canada’s website. When you find availability, call American Airlines at 800-433-7300 to book the ticket. 

Need help booking this award? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Etihad first class.

4. Book Qatar Airways Qsuites From the U.S. to Africa via Doha (American Airlines AAdvantage)

Qatar Qsuites A350 Seat View
Qatar Airways Qsuites. Image Credit: Alex Miller

Qatar Airways Qsuites is one of the most aspirational business class products in the world. For U.S.-based travelers, these flights connect in Doha (DOH), Qatar’s capital city, to destinations around the globe.

And even if you don’t have any plans to visit Qatar, you should try your best to book one of these tickets with a short connection in Doha en route to your final destination, such as Nairobi (NBO), Johannesburg (JNB), Cairo (CAI), and so on.

With 75,000 American AAdvantage miles, you can book one-way business class tickets between the U.S. and Africa via Doha (DOH) — if you were to cut out the Africa part and just fly to/from Doha, you’d redeem 70,000 miles.

Taxes and fees are a minuscule $8 each way, which is awe-inspiring. The challenge will be finding that elusive award availability!

Again, American Airlines AAdvantage is transfer partners with Bilt Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. Plus, both Citi and Barclays offer co-branded credit cards that earn AAdvantage miles directly.

5. Fly Emirates First Class (Emirates Skywards)

Emirates Inaugural World's Shortest A380 First Class Window Suite Cherag Dubash
Fly to the Middle East on Emirates. Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

Flying Emirates first class is nothing short of majestic. You should do everything in your power to make it happen!

Emirates flies nonstop to Dubai (DXB) from the following U.S. airports:

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

For 163,500 Emirates Skywards miles, you can book a one-way Emirates first class flight from the U.S. East Coast to Dubai. Flights from the Central U.S. and West Coast will cost 186,000 miles each way.

The airline also flies nonstop from New York (JFK) to Milan (MXP) and Newark (EWR) to Athens (ATH) — you can book a one-way first class flight on these routes with as few as 85,000 Emirates Skywards miles.

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

As with any first class redemption, availability will be limited. The good news is that you can earn Emirates miles easily since you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points, Bilt Rewards points, Brex Rewards points, Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points, and even Marriott Bonvoy points to Emirates.

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

6. 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. Image Credit: Qantas

Qantas flies nonstop from:

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

With 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan 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 finding award availability. We recommend using ExpertFlyer to assist your award search, as these are popular long-haul routes in premium cabins.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $64 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in first class on Qantas.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy only. Additionally, Bank of America offers co-branded consumer and business credit cards that earn Alaska Airlines miles directly.

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 you book this award ticket. 

7. Fly Cathay Pacific First Class From the U.S. to Asia or the Middle East (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan)

Cathay Pacific 777 first class seat
Fly to Asia on Cathay Pacific. Image Credit: Stephen Au

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 Alaska Airlines’ stopover rules.

With 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles, you can fly Cathay Pacific first class one-way to Hong Kong (HKG). Business class costs 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 a city like Dubai (DXB), New Delhi (DEL), or Tel Aviv (TLV) in business class.

If you were required to book 2 separate itineraries, you would need 100,000 miles based on the Alaska award chart, 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles to fly from the U.S. to Hong Kong, plus 30,000 miles to fly from Hong Kong to the Middle East or India.

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 the Middle East or Asia with a stopover in Hong Kong.

The U.S. to Hong Kong flight is in first class, while the Hong Kong to the Middle East or Asia flight is in business class.

Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan is transfer partners with Marriott Bonvoy only, but you can earn Alaska Airlines miles by spending on Bank of America’s co-branded Alaska credit cards.

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 the Middle East or Asia with a stopover in Hong Kong in 2 premium cabins at this price may be one of the best redemptions you’ll find when using your Alaska Airlines miles. 

8. Fly Japan Airlines First Class From the U.S. to Asia (Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan)

Japan Airlines Boeing 777 300ER First Class JAL Suite 2A
Fly to Japan on Japan Airlines! Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

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

Japan Airlines flies nonstop to Tokyo (NRT/HND) from the following North American airports, giving you multiple cities to search for award flights:

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

Currently, there are 4 cities offer first class service: Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), and San Francisco (SFO).

With 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan 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 on the same routes.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $18 in taxes and fees to fly one way in first class.

As mentioned previously, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan offers co-branded credit cards from Bank of America that earn Alaska miles. In addition, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan.

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

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

Lufthansa B747 8 First Class Seat 1A
Try the amazing Lufthansa first class by flying to Germany from the U.S.! Image Credit: Cherag Dubash

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) and Munich (MUC) from the U.S. Here are some example airports it flies out of:

  • Frankfurt (FRA): 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, D.C. (IAD)
  • Munich (MUC): Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Charlotte (CLT), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), Newark (EWR), San Francisco (SFO), and Washington, D.C. (IAD)

Currently, here are the routes with first class services:

  • Frankfurt (FRA) – Chicago (ORD)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – Houston (IAH)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – Miami (MIA)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – New York (JFK)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – San Francisco (SFO)
  • Frankfurt (FRA) – Washington, D.C. (IAD)
  • Munich (MUC) – Boston (BOS)
  • Munich (MUC) – Chicago (ORD)
  • Munich (MUC) – Miami (MIA)
  • Munich (MUC) – New York (JFK)
  • Munich (MUC) – Washington, D.C. (IAD)

With 50,000 Asiana Club 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. You can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Asiana.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $875 one-way in taxes and fees to fly Lufthansa first class when booking through Asiana.

Need help booking this award? Here’s our step-by-step guide to booking Lufthansa first class, which also mentions other award programs that charge fewer taxes and fees, but more miles, to fly this amazing product.

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. 

10. Fly Business Class From Chicago or the East Coast to Madrid on Iberia (Iberia Avios)

Iberia business class IFE
Access some dirt-cheap business class tickets to Spain on Iberia! Image Credit: Iberia

One of the absolute best sweet spots to book using points is on Iberia business class on select routes between the U.S. and Madrid, which is Spain’s capital city.

Iberia Avios uses a distance-based award chart, but you can book a business class seat during off-peak dates between the U.S. and Madrid for as few as 34,000 Avios!

These routes include:

  • Boston (BOS) to Madrid (MAD)
  • Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD)
  • New York (JFK) to Madrid (MAD)

Taxes and fees are around $116 per person one-way, which makes for a phenomenal redemption value.

When you consider the fact that Iberia’s competitors on similar routes, such as United, American, and Delta, regularly price these same flights in business class for more than 200,000 miles one-way, you’ll start to appreciate the power of Iberia Avios.

Iberia Avios can be transferred from Amex Membership Rewards, Bilt Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. Additionally, if you link your Iberia and British Airways accounts together, you can also transfer Capital One Miles to British Airways Executive Club and then to Iberia Avios.

Lastly, you can earn Iberia Avios from Chase’s co-branded Iberia credit card.

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

Delta One Layout
Fly to Europe on Delta One! Image Credit: Stella Shon

Korean Air offers one of the best business class award redemptions 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. However, this pricing is changing for the worse — for tickets issued on April 1, 2023, or later, you’ll follow a distance-based award chart that’ll have significantly worse pricing.

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

The taxes and fees will vary depending on the airline and route you are flying, but Korean Air generally passes on all fuel surcharges. We recommend using ITA Flight Matrix to estimate your taxes and fees before booking this award.

Korean Air is currently a transfer partner of Marriott Bonvoy, where you’ll get a 3:1 ratio when turning Marriott Bonvoy points into SKYPASS miles. There’s also a bonus of 5,000 miles after you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points in 1 transaction.

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

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 or Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue. When you find availability, double-check the availability by searching for the flights on the Korean Air website. See our guide on how to complete your booking!

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

ANA's New 777-300ER Business Class "The Room"
ANA’s new business class seating is unparalleled. Image Credit: ANA

We talked about the amazing value you can get by using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club points to book ANA first class tickets above. But what about business class? Well, we think that it makes the most sense to transfer your points to ANA Mileage Club directly if you’re looking for ANA business class tickets. That’s because if you can commit to booking round-trip tickets only and have the patience to find availability for 2 long-haul segments, you can access some superb deals through ANA’s frequent flyer program.

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’re flying.

ANA flies nonstop to Tokyo (HND/NRT) from the following U.S. airports:

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

During the low season, you can fly round-trip in business class from the U.S. to Japan for 75,000 ANA Mileage Club miles. Flying round-trip in economy could be an even cheaper option at 40,000 miles in the low season.

ANA allows 1 stopover and 2 open-jaws on ANA flights. With these rules, 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 (e.g., fly into Narita and out of Haneda).

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $762 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in business class on ANA.

You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to ANA at a 1:1 ratio to book this award or transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus for every 60,000 points you transfer.

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

13. 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.

During the low season, you can fly from the U.S. to these destinations in ANA business class for 80,000 ANA Mileage Club miles round-trip. For 45,000 miles, you can fly round-trip in economy during the low season.

Based on a recent search, you’ll pay about $672 in taxes and fees to fly round-trip in business class on ANA.

You can transfer Amex Membership Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA Mileage Club.

Bottom Line: ANA is a great program if you’re putting together a trip to Asia. Flying during the low season on ANA can provide high value for your ANA miles. 

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

LATAM New Business Class
Fly to South America in LATAM business class! Image Credit: LATAM

LATAM offers a solid business class product between the U.S. and several South American destinations, which you can book for a very reasonable amount of Alaska miles.

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Nonstop LATAM Routes From U.S.Lima (LIM)Santiago (SCL)São Paulo (GRU)
Boston (BOS)X
Los Angeles (LAX)XX
Miami (MIA)XXX
New York (JFK)XXX
Orlando (MCO)X

With 45,000 Alaska Mileage Plan 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 a very reasonable $28 in taxes and fees to fly one-way in business class on LATAM.

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

Etihad Airways Airbus A380 Business Class Seat Mood Lighting
Etihad A380 business class. Image Credit: Greg Stone

Asiana has another high-value redemption with a one-way flight from the U.S. to the Middle East.

With 60,000 Asiana Club 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 $300 one-way in taxes and fees to fly Etihad business class.

Asiana doesn’t currently allow miles to be redeemed for the New York (JFK) – Abu Dhabi (AUH) route, so keep that in mind, too.

You can transfer points from Marriott Bonvoy to Asiana.

16. Fly United From the Continental U.S. to Hawaii (Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles)

United Airlines Polaris Business Class
United’s lie-flat business class can be found on select routes to Hawaii. Image Credit: United

The cheapest single way to fly from the continental U.S. to Hawaii is by using Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles miles. You can fly from anywhere in the continental U.S. to Hawaii for 15,000 miles round-trip in economy or 25,000 miles round-trip in business class. These flights are serviced by United, which offers lie-flat business class seats on some routes, meaning you could potentially nab a 6- to 10-hour one-way business class flight for 12,500 Turkish Miles&Smiles miles!

Turkish Airlines is transfer partners with Bilt Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. So there are plenty of options you can leverage to increase your Turkish mileage accrual through credit card spending and welcome bonuses.

Here are some example routes you can book:

  • Chicago (ORD) – Honolulu (HNL)
  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Honolulu (HNL) 
  • Newark (EWR) – Honolulu (HNL)

Final Thoughts

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 options that can provide massive value for your points.

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 and you’re still saving a ton compared to the full cash price of a ticket.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best way to use points and miles?

While it’s hard to say what the absolute best use of points and miles is, because it’s entirely subjective, you will get the most value when transferring your points to airlines and redeeming for first class tickets.

One of our favorite use of points and miles is to redeem them for Singapore Suites tickets!

Is it better to pay with points or cash?

It all boils down to math. For example, if you value your points at 2 cents each, you should redeem points if you can get 2 cents per point or better. Otherwise, you should pay for your travel with cash if you’re not able to achieve the value you attach to your points.

What is the smartest way to use a credit card that has rewards?

The smartest way to use a credit card that has rewards is to maximize any bonus categories to earn more rewards, leverage all of the benefits available to you, and redeem your rewards as strategically as possible, including for luxury first and business class travel.

How can I maximize my credit card points?

Typically, credit card points are best maximized by booking business or first class award travel on airlines, as well by booking free hotel nights at 5-star hotels and resorts around the world.

Michael McHugh's image

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.

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