Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
& Kellie Jez
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Africa is one of the most wondrous continents in the world. Home to some of the rarest, untainted natural beauty, nature lovers and exotic travelers as a whole need to put Africa on their bucket lists.
Whether you’re planning to travel to Africa for tourism, to visit family, or to conduct business, staying aware of the best ways to fly to Africa using points and miles can end up saving you tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
So without further ado, we’ll show you the best frequent flyer programs to use to book flights!
There aren’t all that many airlines that have nonstop service from the U.S. to Africa. We’ve outlined the nonstop options to fly to North Africa in a separate guide and encourage you to visit that specific guide if your travels will take you to Morocco or Egypt.
Here are all of the foreign airlines that offer nonstop flights to the rest of Africa, excluding North Africa:
Here are all of the U.S. airlines that offer nonstop flights to the rest of Africa, excluding North Africa.
Currently, there are several countries in Africa with nonstop routes from the U.S.:
If you’re crunched on time, you’ll want to focus on nonstop flights — but if you are willing to book a layover or even a stopover (longer than 24 hours), you’ll probably end up booking a more enjoyable flight.
So let’s take a look at some of the best ways you can fly to Africa using points and miles!
The classiest, most extravagant way to fly to Africa (or anywhere else in the world, for that matter) is aboard none other than Emirates first class.
If you don’t mind planning a short layover or even a stopover in Dubai and are willing to spend time looking for coveted award availability, then the unparalleled Emirates first class experience can be yours. And in a world where the network of true first class routes is shrinking, Emirates is one of the only airlines offering first class products on shorter, non-flagship routes, which can be handy when flying to Africa.
The best way to book Emirates first class awards to Africa is by redeeming Emirates miles with its own Skywards loyalty program.
And when redeeming miles for Emirates first class tickets, you can add a complimentary stopover for free — plus, since these are known as Flex Plus fares, you can change or cancel your flights with no fees!
Your total taxes and fees will run around $260 in each direction, which is a bargain for the $10,000+ plane tickets you have the privilege of booking.
Here are some exceptional first class routes you can book using Emirates miles:
It’s fairly easy to book Emirates first class, but it’s a good idea to search for each segment individually. Go ahead and follow these instructions to book your Emirates first class ticket:
Redeeming points for Emirates first class flights might be challenging, but earning those points isn’t.
Thanks to transfer partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Brex Rewards, Capital One Miles, and Marriott Bonvoy, you can earn Emirates miles in more ways than ever.
To make things simpler, your points will transfer to Emirates instantly at a 1:1 ratio if you’re redeeming Amex, Brex, Chase, Capital One, or Citi points.
Lastly, Marriott Bonvoy points transfer at a 3:1 ratio in around 3 business days. And if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Emirates at once, you’ll actually get a bonus of 5,000 Emirates miles.
Recommended Chase Cards
A fantastic travel card with a huge welcome offer, good benefits, and perks for a moderate annual fee.
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.
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.
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!
All Nippon Airways’s frequent flyer program, known as ANA Mileage Club, is one of the most liked in the world.
Thanks to attractive business class redemption rates, access to a diverse network of Star Alliance flights, and the ability to easily earn ANA miles, ANA Mileage Club has garnered a superb reputation.
If you’re able to search for and book round-trip award space (no one-way flights) and are willing to pay for fuel surcharges, you can get some exceptional value.
As a reminder, fuel surcharges from European airlines like Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, and SAS are all passed on — avoid those to save over $1,500 in round-trip fees.
Luckily, 2 airlines don’t come with huge fees on ANA redemptions: Ethiopian Airlines and United.
|Cabin Class||ANA Miles Cost (Round-Trip)||Ethiopian Airlines Taxes and Fees||United Airlines Taxes and Fees|
Another perk of ANA Mileage Club is that you can add a complimentary stopover, which is particularly useful for Ethiopian Airlines-operated flights from Africa to the U.S.
That’s because Ethiopian Airlines flights departing Addis Ababa towards the U.S. have stops in Dublin, Ireland! Note that Ethiopian Airlines flights departing the U.S. towards Addis Ababa are nonstop flights.
So if you maximized ANA miles, you could end up visiting Africa and Ireland for the same mileage price!
Here are a few terrific redemptions you can make using ANA miles:
We generally don’t recommend using ANA’s website to conduct award searches — rather, you should use a better-designed search engine, such as United to search for award availability:
Transfers from Amex take around 3 business days while those from Marriott Bonvoy take around 7 business days, so be sure to factor that into your travel booking.
American Express Membership Rewards transfers at a 1:1 ratio while Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio. With Marriott, you’ll earn a bonus of 5,000 ANA miles whenever you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to ANA.
Recommended American Express Cards
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
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.
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!
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
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.
Avianca LifeMiles is one of the fastest-growing frequent flyer programs in the world. And while the program has a bunch of quirks, there’s a lot to love about it.
Simply put, you can’t beat the ease of earning LifeMiles, the ability to book premium Star Alliance award tickets without fuel surcharges, and the solid redemption rates.
In this case, LifeMiles is handy for booking excellent business or first class products that would otherwise come with massive out-of-pocket costs of $1,500+ round-trip! That number plummets to a whopping $38 one-way, even in first class.
And it’s technically possible to book first class award tickets all the way to Africa using LifeMiles on Lufthansa, but the only African destination currently serviced by a first class-equipped Lufthansa plane is Johannesburg (JNB).
To make things more challenging, Lufthansa first class is only bookable using points up to 15 days before departure at most, so only last-minute planners can book Lufthansa first class with points.
Here’s the LifeMiles award chart for flights between the U.S. and Africa:
|Cabin Class||Avianca LifeMiles Cost (One-Way)||Taxes and Fees (One-Way)|
As you can tell, being able to book $10,000 first class or $5,000 business class tickets is an absolute steal!
Hot Tip: LifeMiles uses a weighted average to price mixed cabin award tickets, which means that if you fly a portion of your journey in first class and the rest in business class, your award ticket will be cheaper than an entirely first class ticket!
Here are some incredible redemptions you can make using LifeMiles from the U.S. to Africa:
Unfortunately, one of the quirks with LifeMiles is that if your itinerary has more than 1 stop or has many possible routings, it’s very difficult to get your booking to show up on the website. And LifeMiles’ customer service team is notoriously hard to work with.
Nonetheless, you can book your tickets with LifeMiles by following this list of steps:
Avianca LifeMiles are ridiculously easy to earn.
In addition to having lucrative transfer partnerships with Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Capital One Miles, Marriott Bonvoy, and Brex Rewards, LifeMiles is one of the only frequent flyer programs that routinely offers incredible mileage sales where you can buy miles for 1 to 1.4 cents apiece.
Amex, Brex, Capital One, and Citi all transfer to Avianca LifeMiles instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy has a 3:1 transfer ratio and transfers take around 1 business day.
Lastly, Avianca has 2 co-branded credit cards that earn miles directly.
Recommended Citi Cards
Frequent flyers will enjoy 3x ThankYou Points at restaurants, gas stations, supermarkets, air travel, and hotels.
The Citi Premier® Card is an excellent option for anyone looking for an all-around travel rewards credit card. The card helps you earn points fast with great 3x bonus categories such as restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, airfare, and hotels. Plus, it offers access to airline and hotel transfer partners, doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, and has a reasonable annual fee!
This no annual fee card rewards cardholders for everyday purchases. Earn bonus points at supermarkets and gas stations, plus your points are rounded up on every purchase.
Great card for the average spender with no specific focus category; worry-free cash-back earning on everything!
The Citi Double Cash® Card has long been one of the top cash-back credit cards on the market, and the card now has the ability to earn Citi ThankYou Points!
This means that cardholders of the Double Cash card will now earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. Cash back is earned in the form of ThankYou Points. This means each billing cycle, you will earn 1 ThankYou point per $1 spent on purchases and an additional ThankYou point for every $1 paid on your purchase balance as long as there is a corresponding balance in your Purchase Tracker.
Citi has turned the Double Cash card into a top choice for those who are looking for an everyday, no-fuss credit card.
Earn big on purchases in your top eligible spend category, up to the first $500 each billing cycle, with no annual fee!
The Citi Custom Cash® Card is inventive when it comes to cash-back credit cards. Instead of earning a set amount of cash-back on predetermined bonus categories, the Citi Custom Cash card earns 5% cash-back on your highest eligible spend category each billing cycle, without an annual fee.
Thanks to that unique perk, you’ll never need to worry about whether you’re using the right card for the right purchase, as your Citi Custom Cash card will always pay you 5% back on whichever category you end up spending the most on each month.
United MileagePlus is one of the most streamlined frequent flyer programs in the world.
Boasting a best-in-class online search engine, intuitive ways to earn miles, and strong brand awareness, there are a lot of reasons why you’d want to book your award travel through United.
Just be aware that United MileagePlus will rarely get you the best redemption rates. But it’s the most uncomplicated program to book award travel on.
United MileagePlus generally doesn’t offer amazing value for business and first class flights due to its dynamic pricing system and the absence of an award chart. The best deals are known as Saver awards, but regardless of which mileage price you end up paying, you won’t be shelling out any extra money to pay for fuel surcharges.
Here are some fantastic redemptions you can make using United miles:
Any of these sound appetizing to you? Follow these instructions to book your United MileagePlus flight:
United MileagePlus miles can be earned in many ways, but the most common is 1 of 2 ways:
Generally, you should stick to transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards due to the better categories through which you can earn points, as well as the increased flexibility of your Ultimate Rewards points.
Lastly, you can top off your United miles with Marriott Bonvoy, which has a 3:1.1 transfer ratio and a bonus of 5,500 miles when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United. That means if you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to United MileagePlus, you’ll end up with 27,500 United miles (22,000 from the 3:1.1 ratio plus 5,500 from the transfer bonus).
If you’re looking for alternative ways to fly to Africa using points, you might remember that Etihad Airways, which is based in Abu Dhabi, offers an exceptional premium cabin experience, whether you’re in business class or first class.
You’ll generally want to avoid booking first class since Etihad doesn’t offer a first class product except to Casablanca (CMN) and Aeroplan charges according to the highest class of any segment in the itinerary, even if you’re not flying in first class the whole way.
Also, Air Canada Aeroplan allows you to add a stopover for just 5,000 miles extra, which means you can add a stopover in the U.A.E. en route to Africa!
To make things even more attractive, it’s also a good idea to consider booking Star Alliance business class flights using Aeroplan points because fuel surcharges are not passed on.
Indeed, Aeroplan is the first loyalty program we’ve talked about in this guide that doesn’t pass on Star Alliance fuel surcharges and allows you to easily add a stopover to your itinerary.
Here are some excellent routes you can book using Aeroplan points:
Aeroplan’s website is extremely accurate and reliable. That being said, you can only search for 1 date at a time, which can make finding award space tedious.
To combat this, we recommend using other airline websites to find suitable award availability. After finding award availability, you can confirm your flights on Aeroplan’s website.
Earning Aeroplan points is simple enough — the best way to do it is through transfer partners.
Amex, Capital One, and Chase transfer to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio almost instantly. Marriott Bonvoy transfers to Aeroplan in around 5 business days at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-point bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Air Canada.
You can also opt to acquire the Aeroplan® Credit Card, which earns 3x points per dollar spent on dining, groceries, and Air Canada, as well as 1x point per $1 spent everywhere else.
Recommended Capital One Cards
The Capital One Venture X card is an excellent option for travelers looking for an all-in-one premium credit card.
The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is the premium Capital One travel rewards card on the block.
Points and miles fans will be surprised to see that the Capital One Venture X card packs quite the punch when it comes to bookings made through Capital One, all while offering the lowest annual fee among premium credit cards.
Depending on your travel goals and preferences, the Capital One Venture X card could very well end up being your go-to card in your wallet.
Get 2x miles plus some of the most flexible redemptions offered by a travel credit card!
The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is one of the most popular rewards cards on the market. It’s perfect for anyone in search of a great welcome offer, high rewards rates, and flexible redemption options.
Frequent travelers with excellent credit may benefit from this credit card that offers a lot of bells and whistles. And it offers easy-to-understand rewards earning and redemption.
The card offers unlimited miles at 1.25x per $1 and no annual fee. When you consider the flexible rewards, frequent travelers come out on top.
Interested in a travel rewards credit card without one of those pesky annual fees? Then say hello to the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, the no-annual-fee version of the more popular Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
In addition to no annual fee, the Capital One VentureOne card offers no foreign transaction fees.
But is this card worth its salt, or is it merely a shell of the more popular Capital One Venture card?
We love using American Airlines miles to book Qatar Airways Qsuites, which is one of the best business class products in the world. With enclosed suites, plenty of privacy, world-class catering, and luxury amenities, there’s no reason not to book Qsuites!
American Airlines doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on Qatar Airways, but if you fly on a different airline like British Airways, you’ll see massive fuel surcharges.
Qatar Airways flies to Doha, its hub airport in the Middle East. After a layover in Doha, you’ll proceed to your final destination in Africa.
Here’s how much a one-way flight will cost when booked using AAdvantage miles between the U.S. and Africa:
|Cabin Class||AAdvantage Miles Cost (One-Way)||Qatar Airways Taxes and Fees|
Here are some amazing redemptions you can make on Qsuites to Africa:
Here’s how you can book AAdvantage award flights:
American Airlines AAdvantage doesn’t have a consistent 1:1 transfer partnership.
However, you can earn American Airlines miles from co-branded credit cards by Citi and Barclays.
Lastly, you can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to American Airlines at a 3:1 ratio and transfers to AAdvantage take around 2 business days.
Recommended Marriott Bonvoy Cards
A great option for Marriott hotel fans who want a no annual fee card and automatic Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Casual travelers who like to frequent properties that are part of the Marriott Bonvoy collection of brands may want to consider the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card.
The Marriott Bold card rewards cardholders for Marriott stays and gives them a boost towards Marriott Bonvoy elite status.
Marriott loyalists will love this card's annual free night award, automatic elite status, and up to 17x points per $1 on Marriott hotel stays.
If you’re a frequent traveler and a Marriott loyalist, there’s a lot to love about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card. The card comes packed with several great benefits like a free hotel night once a year, automatic Silver Elite status (with a fast-track to Gold Elite status), and multiple options for redeeming points.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy card gives you automatic Marriott elite status and helps you earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on your everyday purchases.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, the latest mid-tier offering in the Marriott Bonvoy lineup of cards, offers cardholders automatic elite status and ways to earn more Marriott Bonvoy points on each of their stays and daily purchases.
A premium card for Marriott fans who want perks like an annual statement credit and Free Night Award, plus a fast track to Marriott elite status.
If you're approved and accept this Card, your credit score may be impacted.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card is a premium card designed with road warriors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalists in mind.
So is the card a worthwhile addition to your wallet?
Not everybody has millions of Marriott Bonvoy points or American Airlines miles laying around. So if you’re looking to book Qsuites to Africa and don’t have these points, don’t worry!
You can book Qsuites flights using Cathay Pacific Asia Miles! However, you’ll be on the hook for large fuel surcharges, so just keep that in mind.
Here are some great example redemptions you can book:
To book flights using Asia Miles, we recommend first searching on American Airlines’ or British Airways’ website and then calling Asia Miles to book.
That’s because Asia Miles employs some confusing married segment logic. For example, if you find a flight from Los Angeles to Doha in Qsuites and a connecting flight from Doha to Nairobi in Qsuites, Asia Miles doesn’t always make the entire itinerary available using points.
Here’s the easiest way to book Qsuites using Asia Miles:
Cathay Pacific makes it easy to earn Asia Miles.
Amex transfers at a 1:1 ratio within a few hours. Brex and Citi both transfer in 1 business day at a 1:1 ratio. Capital One transfers at a 1:1 ratio in less than 2 business days.
Lastly, Marriott Bonvoy transfers at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when transferring 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and takes around 5 business days.
Most importantly, you can book Air France or KLM business class itineraries to lesser-known cities and countries in Africa where there would otherwise be no convenient schedules.
With a single stop in Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS), you can access interesting cities that otherwise wouldn’t be served by any other full-service airline.
So if you want to fly to countries like Madagascar, Chad, and Benin, Air France will probably get you there in the most comfort, in the least amount of time, and with the lowest overall logistical complications.
Flying Blue passes on all fuel surcharges and uses a dynamic award pricing scheme for Air France and KLM flights; you can even calculate the lowest award pricing online.
Here are some fantastic ways you can book SkyTeam flights to Africa using Flying Blue miles:
To book an award ticket with Flying Blue miles, use these instructions:
It’s super easy to earn lots of Flying Blue miles.
Amex, Brex, Chase, Capital One, and Citi transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy transfers take around 3 business days and process at a 3:1 ratio with a 5,000-mile bonus when you transfer 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to Flying Blue.
Whether you’re looking to book an ultra-luxurious Emirates first class flight all the way to Africa, a mixed cabin booking in first and business class, a convenient nonstop itinerary with lie-flat business class seats, or a connecting flight to a secondary country in Africa, there’s bound to be a suitable way to redeem points for flights to Africa.
In this guide, we started by walking you through how to book Emirates first class, the leader in first class luxury. Then, we walked you through the best deals for nonstop flights aboard Star Alliance airlines via ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles, and United MileagePlus.
After that, we showed you that it’s possible to book Etihad Airways business class flights (as well as other Star Alliance flights) using Aeroplan points.
Then, we took a deep dive into American Airlines AAdvantage and Asia Miles as our go-to award programs for Oneworld flights (Qsuites in particular).
To close out this guide, we outlined the attractive features of Air France/KLM Flying Blue, which often offers the only 1-stop service between the U.S. and smaller countries in Africa.
Regardless of your needs, you now have the most authoritative guide on how to fly to Africa using points and miles.
The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
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.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
It’s no secret that Emirates has one of the best first class products in the world. The best way to fly in luxury to Africa is aboard Emirates with a layover in Dubai.
If you’re lucky, you may also be able to book Lufthansa first class to Africa via Frankfurt if your final destination is Johannesburg!
We talked about Northern Africa in a separate guide, where Egyptair and Royal Air Maroc operate nonstop flights to Cairo and Casablanca.
In addition, Ethiopian Airlines offers nonstop flights to Addis Ababa, Lomé, and even Dublin!
Kenya Airways has 1 U.S. flight between New York and Nairobi.
Delta has nonstop flights from Atlanta to Lagos and Johannesburg, as well as from New York to Accra, Dakar, and Lagos.
United has nonstop flights from Newark to Cape Town and Johannesburg, as well as from Washington, D.C. to Accra.
It depends. If you’re flying nonstop, expect your flight from the U.S. to Western Africa to last 7 to 10 hours.
If you’re flying from the U.S. to Eastern Africa, expect the flight to be around 13 to 15 hours.
Lastly, if you’re flying from the U.S. to South Africa, expect the flight to last around 14 to 16 hours.
Keep in mind that all of these numbers are in each direction.
The best way to fly first class to Africa using points and miles is booking Emirates first class using Emirates miles.
The best way to fly business class to Africa using points and miles is to book Ethiopian Airlines or United Airlines business class using ANA miles.
You can also redeem Avianca LifeMiles, United MileagePlus miles, Air Canada Aeroplan points, American Airlines AAdvantage miles, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, and Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for other options like Lufthansa, SWISS Air, Qatar Airways, Air France, and KLM.
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UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.