I’ve said before that for non-bonus spending, cash back usually rules. However, I believe Amex EveryDay Preferred is truly a game changer for most middle-class families. I wrote a post a while back that if you put all of your yearly spending of $24,000 on that card, you could get almost 60,000 points.
Of course, not all places accept American Express. Additionally, let’s assume that we channel some spending toward sign-up bonuses and will have 50,000 Membership Rewards points at the end of the year from using Amex. You can redeem that amount for $500 off travel expenses, or $500 in gift cards. Or you can get:
1) British Airways Avios program: 40,000 miles (instant transfer), 800:1,000 MR points.
I have written a post on it HERE, so won’t repeat myself. The short version: 40,000 miles= 3 one-way tickets on American from LAX to Hawaii, 4 roundtrip tickets from Miami to Bahamas or Grand Cayman, 3 one- way tickets from Boston to Dublin, plus many more possibilities.
2) Air Canada Aeroplan program: 50,000 miles (instant transfer).
You can see their award chart HERE The most sought after redemption would be the one on United, with one-way tickets between Continental US, Canada and Alaska, costing 12,500 miles, with no fuel surcharges. A good leverage opportunity would be to redeem for flights to Alaska, which cost more through United Mileage Plus program.
3) Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program: 50,000 miles ( transfer takes 1-2 days).
Unless they run specials for flights on Virgin Atlantic, the best redemption option is for flights on their partner, Virgin America, due to the lack of fuel surcharges. You can see the award chart HERE
All redemptions are roundtrip only, and availability isn’t always great according to many reports. But if you are flexible, 50,000 miles can pay for 5 roundtrip flights from San Francisco to Los Angeles, 4 flights from San-Diego to Portland (OR) or 2 flights from Orlando to Los Angeles. Not too bad, and the routes are non-stop, a huge plus for families.
They used to have a draconian policy of confiscating the miles if the ticket is canceled within 7 days, but it’s been changed to 24 hour window before the flight. Keep that in mind if flexibility is crucial.
4) Delta SkyMiles program: 50,000 miles (instant transfer).
You can see the award chart HERE This program is known for mediocre availability. However, provided you are flexible with your dates, you could potentially get 2 roundtrip tickets within Continental US, Alaska and Canada.
You can now redeem for one-way awards. This is a good program to consider if you live near Delta hub.
5) Jet Blue True Blue program : 40,000 points (instant transfer) Transfer ratio is 250 Amex Membership Rewards=200 TrueBlue points.
This is a program that is very similar to Southwest Rapid Rewards. You are guaranteed to be able to use your points for any available flight. According to my research, you would get on average 1.3 cents per point, ranging from 1.1 – 1.8 cents. You can read more on this program HERE
So, your 40,000 points would give you about $520 dollars in flights or possibly more, depending on the route. This is the least lucrative option off all the ones I mentioned. So, why did I highlight it? Jet Blue sometimes runs discounts on their awards for up to 30 percent off. Since the transfers from Amex are instant, you may be able to leverage this deal to your advantage. Jet Blue has a decent coverage to the Caribbean.
Well, it’s a wrap for now. Let me know if I messed up on anything. There may be other good options, besides the ones I highlighted. Also, you would obviously do better when Amex runs transfer bonuses.
It’s important to note that you will pay excise tax of $0.0006 per point, with a maximum fee of $99, when transferring to a U.S. based carrier, which includes Frontier, Delta and Jet Blue.
My goal with this post was to make Membership Rewards program seem a bit less intimidating. I’m looking at you, my cousin-in-law Jen! Miles and points earned through everyday spending, if leveraged properly, can be very useful for many families.
P.S. I have added 3 additional airline partners. See this post for more.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.