What You Have to Know

What You Have to Know

What You Have to Know

Nomadic Matt sitting in business class on a plane, holding up a glass of champagne

Incomes factors and miles is one of the best ways to fly extra for much less. It’s the best way I’ve been in a position to keep on the street for thus lengthy — and I’ve seen what a distinction it’s made for my readers too.

I write loads about the most effective bank cards to get relying in your journey objectives, however I’ve talked much less about how to make use of these factors.

At present, I wish to change that as a result of I preserve getting emails from individuals speaking about the way it takes too many factors to ebook a flight. Once I comply with up, it’s as a result of they’re reserving via the bank card’s journey portal and that’s one thing you need to not often, if ever, do!

Journey rewards playing cards provide two fundamental methods to make use of the factors that you simply earn to ebook journeys:

  • By transferring factors to their journey companions
  • By utilizing a card issuer’s reserving portal

For many who are new to incomes and utilizing factors and miles, there’s loads of confusion about which is the higher choice. Journey bank cards place their portals as the most suitable choice for utilizing your factors. However, in actuality, they not often ever are.

So let’s discuss why that is.


The Low-Down on Journey Portals

screenshot of homepage of Amex Travel portal

Journey portals are on-line journey businesses (OTAs) supplied by banks as a part of the advantages of holding one in all their rewards playing cards. They work precisely like different OTAs, corresponding to Expedia or Kayak, the place you’ll be able to ebook flights, inns, and rental automobiles by trying to find availability by way of their search engine.

The principle distinction is that these journey portals are linked to your bank card. This lets you use your factors and miles when reserving. You can too select to pay partially with factors and partially with money.

Utilizing journey portals is mainly like utilizing your factors as money again. You get a hard and fast worth per level and additionally, you will earn factors/miles in your reserving.

Bank card corporations place their portals as one of the best ways to make use of factors. They need you to make use of the portals and keep inside their ecosystem in order that they’ll earn a living off of you.

To maintain you on their website, they provide incentives that you would be able to solely get when utilizing their portal. These incentives embody the next:

  • Journey credit – For those who use the portal, many playing cards provide assertion credit to offset your buy. For instance, the card_name gives $50 USD resort credit score when reserving via Chase JourneySM, and the card_name gives a $300 USD annual credit score for bookings via Capital One Journey.
  • Elevated rewards incomes energy – You’ll earn additional factors when utilizing the portal. For instance, the Capital One Enterprise X and the card_name playing cards each provide 10x on inns and rental automobiles and 5x on flights when booked via their portals.
  • Elevated level worth – You’ll get a small enhance within the variety of factors/miles you’ll be able to money in simply through the use of the portal. For holders of Chase Sapphire playing cards, for instance, 1 level turns into 1.25 or 1.5 factors (with the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, respectively) when reserving via the portal. (Whereas that looks as if an amazing deal, you’ll be able to often get a significantly better worth per level when transferring to journey companions, as I’ll get into under.)

Journey portals are straightforward and handy. Nonetheless, utilizing them is often not the most effective worth in your factors. What you get in simplicity and comfort you lose within the fastened redemption worth that often isn’t the most effective.

The Low-Down on Switch Companions

On the flip aspect, you’ll be able to switch factors out of your account on to the place the place you wish to ebook (corresponding to an airline or resort). Whereas transferring your factors to journey companions is a little more work, you may get far more worth out of your hard-earned factors this manner.

Solely sure playing cards earn you transferable factors although. For instance, airline- and hotel-specific playing cards (such because the card_name or the card_name) solely earn you factors that can be utilized at that airline or resort. They’re much less priceless, as a result of they’re much less versatile. Transferable factors are priceless (and what you need to goal to get), as a result of they’re so versatile.

Listed here are a number of varieties of transferable currencies and a few playing cards that earn them:

  • American Specific Membership Rewards: The Platinum Card by American Specific, the American Specific Gold Card, the American Specific Inexperienced Card.
  • Chase Final Rewards: the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, Chase Ink Enterprise Most well-liked® Credit score Card.
  • Bilt Rewards: Bilt Mastercard®.
  • Capital One miles: All Capital One Enterprise playing cards.
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards: Citi Premier® Card.

Every transferable foreign money has completely different journey companions (many overlap). Listed here are a few of Chase’s journey companions, listed on the Chase JourneySM website:

list of travel partners on Chase Travel SM site

Whereas the precise worth you may get varies significantly based mostly on the flight or resort, a superb benchmark is The Points Guy’s monthly valuation chart, which values most transferable currencies at over 2 cents per level when used as transferable factors. That’s double what you’ll get on journey portals, and infrequently you may get far more.

That’s as a result of when transferring your factors, you may also make the most of switch bonuses supplied by bank cards and flash offers (corresponding to Air France-KLM Flying Blue promo awards, that are month-to-month offers on award flights). These could be unimaginable offers, as much as a 50% low cost!

Whereas discovering award availability immediately with airways can appear overwhelming, the excellent news is that instruments like Level.me (an award flight search software) make it simpler than ever.

Usually talking, I all the time switch my factors. Doing so offers the most effective worth and reserving direct ensures that there is no such thing as a third-party concerned ought to there be a difficulty with my flight. Furthermore, it takes loads fewer factors for a redemption this manner. Let me inform you why within the subsequent part.

Evaluating Companions vs Portals: Which One Is Greatest for You?

Screenshot from the Chase Travel SM homepage

Except there’s a tremendous low-cost flight or room (lower than $150 USD), I all the time switch factors to journey companions, particularly when reserving business-class flights or nicer resort rooms. You simply get extra bang in your buck.

For instance, a enterprise class flight from New York to Paris in peak season is 88,000 factors on United every method (each Chase Final Rewards and Bilt Rewards switch to United). These flights often price about $2,400 (although they’ll get as excessive as $5,000). For those who had the Chase Sapphire Most well-liked or Bilt Rewards Card and booked via their respective portals, you would want 192,000 factors (every level is price 1.25 cents in both of those portals). That’s over double what you’d want when transferring your factors to United reserving immediately.

Since most flight redemptions for financial system begin at 20,000 factors (when transferring on to airways), you might want to discover a flight that’s lower than $250 for it to be price it to make use of the portal. That is when utilizing the Chase Sapphire playing cards or the Bilt card, which give you greater than 1 cent per level when reserving by way of their portals. For Amex or Capital One playing cards, you solely get 1 cent per level/mile. Which means you’d must discover a flight for $200 or much less for it to make sense to make use of their portals.

For inns and rental automobiles, it’s rather less black and white since you don’t all the time have switch companions.

For instance, I’m reserving inns by way of the Chase Journey portal on an upcoming journey to Barcelona as a result of there are not any rooms bookable with factors out there. (You’ll be able to solely switch factors from bank cards to chains like Hyatt or Marriott.) Since inns are $300 and up per night time, I’m simply utilizing my factors to save lots of me cash by reserving with a non-chain resort. I wouldn’t be capable to ebook with factors in any other case. That is the exception to the rule.

Listed here are another instances wherein utilizing the portal is your only option:

  • There are not any award seats out there in your desired flight (corresponding to should you’re flying in peak season or through the holidays) or resort (corresponding to if you wish to ebook a boutique resort that’s not bookable with factors).
  • You’re reserving a rental automobile and wish to use factors (you’ll be able to’t ebook rental automobiles immediately by way of factors).
  • You’re chasing airline standing and wish to earn factors in your reserving.
  • You merely received’t use your factors in any other case.

About that final merchandise: all the time think about your journey objectives and decide whether or not the convenience and comfort of utilizing the portal is price it to you. Utilizing your factors, no matter how, is best than letting them sit round! By no means stockpile your factors. They get devalued on a regular basis. So use them relatively than lose them!


Journey portals could be an attractive method to make use of your factors. They’re handy, and banks provide you with incentives to make use of them. For those who’re new to factors and miles and simply need a easy technique to money in your earnings, they’re positively an choice.

Nonetheless, you’ll be able to often get significantly better worth out of your factors by transferring them on to airways or inns. The less factors you utilize per journey, the extra factors you’ve gotten for extra journey (or extra factors to fly/keep in luxurious).

However the good thing is that you simply don’t have to decide on both the portal or transferring to companions. You’ll be able to combine and match relying on the most suitable choice on the time. So do a fast comparability and use factors to ebook your subsequent journey!

Guide Your Journey: Logistical Suggestions and Tips

Guide Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is being left unturned.

Guide Your Lodging
You’ll be able to ebook your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use Booking.com because it persistently returns the most affordable charges for guesthouses and inns.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you in opposition to sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes mistaken. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions up to now. My favourite corporations that supply the most effective service and worth are:

Need to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards help you earn factors that may be redeemed free of charge flights and lodging — all with none additional spending. Take a look at my information to choosing the right card and my present favorites to get began and see the most recent greatest offers.

Want Assist Discovering Actions for Your Journey?
Get Your Guide is a big on-line market the place yow will discover cool strolling excursions, enjoyable excursions, skip-the-line tickets, personal guides, and extra.

Able to Guide Your Journey?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of if you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of once I journey. They’re the most effective in school and you’ll’t go mistaken utilizing them in your journey.

Advertiser Disclosure: “Nomadic Matt has partnered with CardRatings for our protection of bank card merchandise. Some or all the card gives on this web page are from advertisers and compensation could impression how and the place card merchandise seem on the location. Nomadic Matt and CardRatings could obtain a fee from card issuers.”

Editorial Disclosure: “Opinions, critiques, analyses & suggestions are the writer’s alone, and haven’t been reviewed, endorsed, or accredited by any of those entities. This web page doesn’t embody all card corporations or all out there card gives.”

For charges and costs of the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Specific® Card, See Charges and Charges.

For charges and costs of the Delta SkyMiles(R) Gold American Specific Card, See Charges and Charges.