Travel Miles Vs Points – Which Reward System Is Better?

Travel Miles Vs Points - Which Reward System Is Better?

Last Updated on Nov 14th, 2023 by Renu Dahiya, Leave a Comment

Do you find yourself questioning which one is better suited for your travel aspirations – travel points or travel miles? Don’t worry! We will help you out. In this comprehensive guide, we unravel the mysteries surrounding travel miles and points, shedding light on their unique characteristics and helping you navigate the intricacies of these valuable rewards systems.

Travel points and miles are two distinct forms of currency that can be earned through loyalty programs, credit card rewards, and other travel-related initiatives. While both can pave the way for remarkable travel experiences, understanding their fundamental differences is crucial in optimizing your benefits. So, let’s get started!

What Are Travel Miles? | How Do They Work? 

Miles, also referred to as frequent flier miles or airline miles, are rewards that can be earned through airline loyalty programs. Airline miles allow passengers to earn and redeem miles for various travel benefits. 

For example – To start earning miles with United, you need to register for a frequent flyer account and provide your MileagePlus number when booking flights with United Airlines or its partner airlines. In addition to flying, airlines often provide co-branded credit cards like the United℠ Explorer Card, which enables cardholders to earn miles for everyday purchases. Using such credit cards not only enhances your mileage accumulation but also offers convenience in earning United frequent flyer miles.

How Do Reward Miles Work? – The number of miles earned on a flight depends on factors such as seat class, distance flown, and ticket cost. Similarly, the miles earned through a co-branded credit card also vary based on the type of purchase. For instance, the United℠ Explorer Card earns 2 United miles per $1 spent on restaurants and hotels, and 1 United mile per dollar on other purchases.

Once you have accumulated a sufficient number of miles, you can redeem them for award tickets on the airline and its partner airlines. It’s important to note that airline miles are typically not transferable between different airlines. 

To help you navigate the world of airline loyalty programs, here are some key domestic and international frequent flyer programs to consider:

Popular Domestic Airline Loyalty Programs

  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan: Ideal for West Coast travel and offers award tickets on Cathay Pacific to Asia.
  • American Airlines AAdvantage: Beneficial for off-peak rates to Europe during the fall and winter seasons.
  • Delta SkyMiles: Suitable for last-minute bookings with no additional fees for tickets booked less than 21 days before travel.
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards: Known for good award availability and transparent pricing tied to cash fares.
  • United MileagePlus: Generally offers the highest award availability due to its membership in the Star Alliance.

Popular International Airline Loyalty Programs:

  • Air Canada Aeroplan: Does not impose close-in booking fees within 21 days of travel.
  • Air France/KLM FlyingBlue: Provides monthly Promo Rewards with discounted award rates.
  • British Airways Executive Club: Features a distance-based award chart, making it attractive for short-haul flights.
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: Offers an excellent premium economy experience for a relatively low number of miles, despite higher taxes.

What Are Travel Points? | How Do They Work?

Travel points are a valuable form of currency that can be earned through a variety of loyalty programs provided by hotels, credit card companies, and other businesses in the travel industry. These points serve as a reward for customer loyalty and can be exchanged for various travel-related benefits, such as international long-haul flights (like New York to Mumbai flights), hotel accommodations, car rentals, and more. Here are some common types of travel points – 

Hotel Points

Hotel points function in a similar manner to airline miles and are an essential component of many hotel chains’ loyalty programs. Prominent examples of hotel loyalty programs include Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors.

Hotel points can be earned through paid hotel stays or by utilizing co-branded credit cards associated with specific hotel chains. These credit cards, such as the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, incentivize cardholders to use the card at hotels by offering bonus points for eligible purchases. The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, for instance, provides up to 17 points per dollar spent at over 7,000 participating hotels.

While hotel points can sometimes be transferred to airline loyalty programs, the transfer ratios are generally less favorable.

Transferable Credit Card Points

Transferable credit card points are highly versatile and provide great flexibility for travel rewards. Examples of transferable points include Chase Ultimate Rewards®, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Capital One Miles. These points can be redeemed in various ways, including transferring them to specific airline partners or using them for gift cards or cash back.

For instance, American Express points can be transferred to 18 airlines and three hotel programs. Due to their flexibility, transferable points are often considered more valuable than airline miles or hotel points.

It’s important to note that transferable points are earned by using credit cards associated with the respective transferable point currency. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points, while The Business Platinum Card® from American Express earns Membership Rewards points. To register for these rewards accounts, you typically need to have the corresponding credit card.

Difference Between Travel Points And Travel Miles | Travel Miles Vs Points

AspectTravel PointsTravel Miles
FlexibilityCan be redeemed for various travel expensesPrimarily used for flights and related services
Earning PotentialEarned through credit card spending, hotel stays, partner purchasesEarned by flying with a specific airline or its partners
Redemption Options Flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and moreMainly used for flights, limited options for other travel expenses
Value PropositionVaries based on program and redemption optionsValue varies across programs, primarily focused on flight-related rewards
TransferabilityMore flexible, often transferrable to other loyalty programsLimited transfer options, typically within specific airline alliances
Partner NetworksAssociated with a broader range of partners, including airlines, hotels, and travel businessesLinked to specific airline alliances or partnerships
Valuation and ConversionFixed value assigned, making it easier to estimate worthValues can vary based on factors such as airline, class of service, and flight routes

Are Airlines Miles Worth More Than Travel Points?

While general travel points typically have fixed dollar values, the value of hotel points and airline miles is determined by a reward-to-dollar ratio. The worth of airline miles can fluctuate based on several factors, including the timing of your travel, the specific route, and the class of service. Furthermore, the loyalty program you are a part of also plays a significant role in determining their value.

Flexibility in your travel plans can significantly impact the value of your hotel points or airline miles. For example, if you have the freedom to book your travel during the middle of the week rather than on weekends, you may find that your miles or points have a higher value for midweek bookings. Additionally, when it comes to international flights like San Francisco to Bangalore flights, you often have the potential to obtain better value for your miles compared to domestic flights.

Travel Points Or Miles – Which Is Better?

When deciding between travel miles and points, the choice ultimately depends on your individual travel preferences and goals. Travel points offer greater flexibility, allowing you to redeem them for various travel expenses like flights, hotel stays, and car rentals. This versatility suits those who value a range of options for their rewards. On the other hand, miles focus primarily on flight-related benefits, such as free flights, seat upgrades, and airport lounge access. 

If your travels revolve mainly around air travel, miles can provide significant value and enhanced experiences. Consider your preferred airlines, transferability options, partner networks, and the valuation and redemption opportunities offered by each loyalty currency. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose the option that aligns best with your travel style and maximizes your rewards potential. Remember, the ultimate goal is to make the most of your rewards and enjoy memorable journeys along the way.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When is it better to use points as opposed to miles?

A: Opting for a non-co-branded credit card that offers points could be a more suitable option for individuals who do not have a strong preference for a specific airline.

Q: When is it better to use miles as opposed to points?

A: If you are a frequent flyer and exhibit loyalty towards a specific airline, using miles can prove to be highly beneficial for you to book international flights like Chicago to Delhi flights. Likewise, if you have a strong preference for a particular group of hotels, opting for a credit card that offers hotel points could be a favorable choice. However, if neither of these scenarios applies to your travel preferences, considering a non-co-branded credit card that earns either miles or points might be a suitable alternative.

Q:  How many reward miles are needed for a flight?

A: The quantity of miles necessary for an award ticket varies based on several factors, including the airline, cabin class, origin, destination, and travel date. To determine the precise number of miles required for an award ticket, access your preferred airline’s frequent flyer account, navigate to the booking page, and look for the option to book award tickets. Then, you will be prompted to input your trip details to view the cost of your tickets in flight points/miles.

Q: What’s the difference between miles and cash-back credit cards?

A: Cash-back credit cards provide a straightforward system where the rewards you earn directly translate into a corresponding dollar amount. For instance, if you hold a 2% cash back card, you will receive $2 back for every $100 you spend. On the contrary, the value of miles earned through credit cards is influenced by various factors, making their redemption more complex and variable.

Q: How can I use my credit card points?

A: The most advantageous ways to use credit card points often involve transferring them to airline or hotel loyalty programs or using them as a substitute for cash when booking travel directly through the credit card’s travel portal. While points can also be redeemed for gift cards or cash, the value obtained from these types of redemptions is typically not as favorable as when used for travel bookings.

Q: How do I best use airline miles?

A:  The most advantageous way to utilize airline miles is by booking award tickets. To redeem your miles for a flight, you will need to visit the airline’s official website and search for available award tickets. Award tickets can be booked for various cabin classes, including economy, business, and first class. 

Q: What is the best credit card for travel points?

A: Some of the best credit cards for travel points are Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, American Express Gold Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, etc. 

Q: What is the best credit card for travel miles?

A: the best credit cards for travel miles include Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card, United SM Explorer Card, Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Car, etc. 

That’s it! So, the next time you feel confused about which is better – travel points or travel miles, consider this handy guide. 

If you still have any further queries, do let us know. Our team of travel experts at MyTicketsToIndia is here to provide you with the best solution. With over 13 years of experience in the industry, we are renowned for being one of the leading flight-booking platforms specializing in affordable flights from USA to India and vice versa. We take pride in offering competitive prices and exceptional customer service. Our team of travel professionals is available 24/7, ensuring that your needs and satisfaction are our top priorities.

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By reaching out to us, you can expect detailed solutions to all your travel-related concerns. We understand that every traveler is unique, and we are committed to providing personalized assistance to ensure that you have a seamless and enjoyable travel experience.

About Renu Dahiya | View Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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