Edited by: Stella Shon
& Kellie Jez
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 and evaluated by experts who know these products inside out. We only recommend products we either use ourselves or endorse. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. See our advertising policy here where we list advertisers that we work with, and how we make money. You can also review our credit card rating methodology.
We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.
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 at 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: O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town International (CPT). Most nonstop flight options fly to Johannesburg, though United does operate a single flight from Newark (EWR) to Cape Town (CPT) that was launched in late 2019.
For those of you unable to find a nonstop, you’ll likely route through Europe or another African airport from the U.S.
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.
The award pricing in this article is calculated one-way. Most programs will allow you to book one-way tickets, but both ANA and Korean Air require round-trip award flight bookings.
With that behind us, let’s figure out how best to fly between the U.S. and South Africa!
Starting off our list of award programs to use to book award flights to South Africa is Air Canada’s 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.
|Cabin Class||Aeroplan Points Cost||Taxes and Fees|
As a Star Alliance partner, Air Canada has access to flights from United, Lufthansa, SWISS Air, and Ethiopian Airlines, among others. Be aware that Aeroplan has a variable rate for redemptions, so you’ll find different pricing based on demand.
Aeroplan has partnerships with 3 transferable point programs, making it easy to earn Aeroplan points 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 points directly with your credit card spend.
Hot Tip: You can use Aeroplan’s free family pooling feature to gather together all of your family’s points, which can allow you to quickly earn enough points for a redemption.
Once you have enough Air Canada Aeroplan points to book an award flight, considering flying on one of these example routes:
Follow these steps below to help with your award flight booking process:
For those of you wanting to use transferable points, American Express Membership Rewards points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio, Capital One miles transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and Marriott Bonvoy point transfers can take up to 5 days at a 3:1 ratio. With every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points that you transfer, you’ll receive a 5,000-point bonus.
If you’re looking to earn Capital One miles, here are the credit cards we recommend you check out:
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?
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.
|Cabin Class||Cathay Pacific Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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.
You can also opt to use your Alaska Airlines miles to fly to Africa with British Airways and Emirates, though British Airways levies high surcharges and Emirates is extremely expensive.
Hot Tip: Familiarize yourself 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:
Follow these steps below to help with your award flight booking process:
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 Bonvoy 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 Bonvoy points that you transfer to Alaska.
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.
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.
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?
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.
|Cabin Class||Oneworld Airlines Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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:
Booking award flights with AAdvantage miles is easy by following these steps:
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 co-branded credit cards, you’ll earn American miles directly with your spending.
Otherwise, you can opt to transfer Bilt Rewards to AAdvantage miles at a 1:1 ratio.
Marriott Bonvoy point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1 ratio.
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.
|Cabin Class||Star Alliance Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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 Remember, these are round-trip prices:
With the required number of ANA miles in your account, follow these steps to book your next award flight:
Earning ANA miles should not be an issue because 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 Bonvoy points.
Amex point transfers take 2 to 3 days at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy point transfers take 7 days at a 3:1 ratio. With that said, we recommend applying for these Amex credit cards first:
The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
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!
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.
Business owner? See our list of the best Amex business credit cards.
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.
|Cabin Class||Star Alliance Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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:
To make the booking process easier with Asiana Airlines, use these steps when you’re ready to book a flight:
It’ll be challenging to earn Asiana Airlines miles as the airline only partners with Marriott Bonvoy.
For those of you with Marriott Bonvoy 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 Bonvoy points that you transfer.
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.
|Cabin Class||Star Alliance Miles Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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 be flexible on your travel dates.
Examples of flights that you can book to South Africa include:
When you’re ready to book a flight using Avianca miles, below are the steps that will help with the process:
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 Bonvoy points, the transfer times and transfer ratios are as follows: Amex points, Capital One miles, and Citi ThankYou Points transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio and Marriott Bonvoy point transfers take 24 hours at a 3:1 ratio.
With that said, we recommend the following Citi credit card:
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!
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.
|Cabin Class||SkyTeam Airline Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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:
The process to book SkyTeam flights with Korean Air miles is as follows:
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 Bonvoy points, the point transfer time takes 2 days at a 3:1 ratio.
|Cabin Class||United Airlines Cost||Taxes and Fees|
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, though United charges more for partner awards than flights on its own metal.
Examples of Star Alliance flights that you can book with United Airlines miles include:
When you’re ready to book a flight, follow these steps to help with the process:
It’s easy to earn United Airlines miles because the airline has partnerships with Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards, and Marriott Bonvoy. 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 Bonvoy point transfers take 2 days at a 3:1.1 ratio. Also, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus miles with every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred.
Recommended Chase Cards (Personal)
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!
Business owner? See our list of the best Chase business credit cards.
Our last airline program, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, is not in an airline alliance. Instead, Virgin Atlantic has partnerships with individual airlines like Delta, Air France, and KLM.
|Cabin Class||Delta Cost||Taxes and Fees|
|Business||65,000 (estimate due to lack of availability)||$5.60+|
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 Virgin Points for connecting flights. The award prices shown in the charts above assume nonstop flights between the U.S. and South Africa.
If your Virgin Points are already in your Virgin Atlantic account, here is an example flight to South Africa:
Use the steps below to help yourself when booking Delta flights:
Virgin Atlantic has partnerships with American Express, Chase, Citi, and Marriott Bonvoy, making it easy to earn Virgin Points. The airline also offers a co-branded credit card for the U.S. market that earns Virgin Points 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 to 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 Bonvoy point transfers take 1 day at a 3:1 ratio. Marriott Bonvoy point transfers of 60,000 points receive a 5,000-point bonus.
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 Bonvoy 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 TD Aeroplan™ Visa Signature® Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® 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 Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® card, click here.
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.
Yes! You can use your United Airlines miles to fly South African Airways to South 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.
American Airlines currently flies nonstop to Morocco but does not offer direct flights to South Africa.
The 2 major airports in South Africa are Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT).
Was this page helpful?
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.
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.