Capital One Miles Sweet Spots 2021

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Capital One shook things up in the rewards card space with the introduction of transfer partners to their Capital One “miles” earning cards a couple of years ago and now they have shaken things up again by increasing the transfer ratio to 1:1 on almost all of their airline transfer partners. Capital One “Miles” (earned via the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One Spark Miles for Business card) now have many valuable uses (and sweet spots) in addition to the traditional ability to use Capital One miles to offset travel purchases.

Now that Capital One miles transfer 1:1 to all airline partners but EVA and JetBlue (note that JetBlue will no longer be a partner as of 10/25/21), these sweet spots have simplified considerably. A couple of notable advantages of Capital One miles:

  • You can transfer in increments of just 100 miles (after a 1,000-mile minimum)
  • Capital One Miles post to your Capital One account within 1-3 days from making a purchase. It is therefore easy to gather the miles quickly to top off an account for a valuable award when necessary.
  • Rewards from cash back cards can be transferred to miles-earning cards and then transferred to airline partners (1c of cash back = 1 Capital One Mile)

Table of Contents

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Hotels

Capital One offers 1:1 transfers to Wyndham Rewards (and is scheduled to offer 1:1 transfers to Choice Privileges at some point in 2021). They also offer 2:1 transfers to Accor Live Limitless.

Wyndham Rewards can sometimes be useful for hotels as they have a simple program with just three tiers: “Go Free” award nights costing just 7,500 / 15,000 / 30,000 points per night depending on property. “Go Fast” awards mix either 3,000 or 6,000 points plus a cash copay and can offer even better point value at times.

However, where Wyndham really shines is through its partnership with Vacasa vacation rentals. Vacasa manages rentals in many popular rental locations and their homes can be booked for 15K Wyndham points per bedroom per night. With many 1-bedroom units actually including multiple beds (sometimes in a loft that indeed feels like a separate bedroom), it is easy for a family to book an entire home in some areas for just 15,000 points per night (like this cabin that Nick booked in The Great Smokey Mountains). There seems to be a cap of about $350 per night on 1-bedroom units — dates will be “blacked out” if the average nightly rate (before fees) is higher. One great thing about booking Vacasa rentals through Wyndham is that you do not pay any taxes or cleaning fees — just the 15K points per bedroom with no additional charges. See this post for more detail: Wyndham Vacasa: Great value is real!.

Accor Live Limitless points are worth a fixed rate of 1 Euro cent per point toward cash rates at Accor properties. That means you’ll do slightly better booking Accor properties by first transferring points to Accor than you would by booking with your Capital One card and using miles to “erase” the purchase.

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Transfer Bonuses

Before examining the mileage rates shown below, it is worth noting that Capital One began introducing transfer bonuses almost immediately with the introduction of transfer partners. They have continued to offer periodic transfer bonuses to a number of partners, so you may be able to get an even better deal in terms of the number of Capital One “Miles” necessary for the flights below if you’re able to time your booking with a transfer bonus.

Capital One “Miles” post to your Capital One account quickly

Another thing worth mentioning here is the speed with which Capital One “Miles” post to your Capital One account. In most cases, Capital One “Miles” post to your Capital One account within 2-3 days after a pending transaction is charged. This means you do not need to wait for your statement date to receive and use your miles, so it is easy to put together the miles necessary to top off an account quite quickly with Capital One.

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Domestic US Flights

By far the sweetest spot for domestic US flights of any airline program is Turkish Miles & Smiles for United Airlines. Turkish charges just 7,500 miles each way for domestic economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class on United Airlines within the United States — including to/from Hawaii, Alaska, and US islands in the Caribbean (and even on connecting itineraries). It can be almost impossible to find availability in business class and both booking and ongoing customer service can be a challenge. However, for those who are willing to dig in and try there is great value to be had.

Avianca has can also be great for United flights within region (or even sometimes between regions since pricing can sometimes be better than the award chart suggests). Air France often offers much better deals on Delta than Delta does itself (when Delta has seats available to partners) and both Avios and Qantas can be solid for shorter American Airlines itineraries.

Fly American Airlines

Using British Airways Executive Club (for American Airlines or Alaska Airlines)
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so short direct flights on partners American Airlines or Alaska Airlines can sometimes be a great value. Also note that British Airways allows cancellation up to 24 hours in advance for no fee but forfeiting the taxes ($5.60 each way within the US), though they've been known to refund those with some cancellations.
  • Miles required: Varies based on distance. From 9K one-way in economy class / 16.5K in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights. Note that British Airways inexplicably periodically stops displaying AA availability. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Using Iberia Plus (for American Airlines)

Note that while Iberia isn’t a direct Capital One transfer partner, you can transfer Avios 1:1 between British Airways Avios, Iberia Avios, and Aer Lingus Avios.

Update: Iberia used to be a sweet spot for short connecting American Airlines flights, but unfortunately they changed their award chart for the worse in 2021. It now matches the British Airways system both in terms of price and pricing by segment. However, Iberia does not allow any chances / cancellations / redeposits in American Airlines awards. You can’t even pay a fee to get your Avios back. You’re better off booking through British Airways.

Using Qantas Frequent Flyer (for American Airlines)
  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines or Alaska Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for those who need to connect on short itineraries as Qantas measures cumulative distance rather than pricing segments separately.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles or 12,000 miles for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles. (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions). No fuel surcharges on American or Alaska.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account). Note that for Alaska space you'll need to search AA.com.
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com for American Airlines. Call for Alaska until Alaska becomes available for oneworld bookings.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Fly Delta

Using Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Delta)
  • The short story: Air France sometimes charges far fewer miles for Delta flights than Delta charges its own members.
  • Miles required: Variable, but starting around 11.5K one-way in economy, or 28K one-way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

Fly JetBlue

Using Emirates Skywards (for JetBlue)
  • The short story: Emirates Skywards offers cheap short-haul one-ways on JetBlue.
  • Miles required: From 7,500 miles each way in economy class (varies by route).
  • How to find awards: Search for available "U" space via ExpertFlyer or call Emirates at 1-800-777-3999.
  • How to book awards: Over the phone with Emirates at 1-800-777-3999.
  • Key warnings: It will likely only be the cheapest revenue fares that are available as awards. JetBlue may therefore be charging even fewer TrueBlue points for the same awards. Further, Emirates charges for each segment separately. See this chart for direct/nonstop pricing by route.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Fly United

Using Air Canada Aeroplan (for United)
  • The short story: Aeroplan offers decent pricing for very short awards within the US and between the US and Canada, though the new distance-based chart means that longer itineraries are less of a deal.
  • Miles required: From 6K to 22.5K miles each way in economy class or 15K to 35K miles each way in business class based on distance (see more info here).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Key warnings: Flights on Air Canada incur fuel surcharges, so choose United flights to avoid those fees.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Chase, Marriott

Using Avianca LifeMiles (for United)
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United within a single "zone" at excellent prices. Some flights price even less than the "official" rates.
  • Miles required: As per the old award chart, the US is split into 3 zones. Within a single zone is officially 7.5K one-way in economy class or 10K one-way in business class. Between Zone 1 (most of the East Coast) and Zone 2 (most of the states apart from the far west) is 10K one-way in economy or 15K in business class. Note that some routes price below the chart for no clear reason. Note also that mixed-cabin itineraries can price favorably in some instances. See: Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing. First class for less.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Using Singapore KrisFlyer (for United)
  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges the same 12.5K miles each way in economy class both within the US and between the US and Canada. While not the best deal in all situations, Singapore miles are easy to accumulate since they are partners with all of the major transferable points.
  • Miles required: 12.5K miles each way in economy class (business class at 34.5K each way is not competitive with the best rates from other programs)
  • How to find awards: Search for available United Airlines space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written).
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer.
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way domestic award. Be aware that United.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com or with a phone agent before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.
  • Transfer from: AmexCitiChaseCapital OneMarriott

Using Turkish Miles & Smiles (for United Airlines)

Turkish Miles & Smiles offers an incredible sweet spot for booking United award flights, but it can be a challenging program to use. Your best bet for booking awards is via email, but it is a slow process and often requires emailing many offices to get a response. Be ready with a backup plan in case of irregular operations as it may be very challenging to get customer service from Turkish. However, many have found the low prices to be well worth the effort.

  • The short story: Turkish offers incredible value on domestic Star Alliance flights. This makes Turkish the absolute cheapest way to book flights within the US on United -- including to Alaska and Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class domestically on United within the US or domestically on Air Canada within Canada (can include connections for the same price). For North American international flights (e.g. US to Canada or Mexico), 10K each way in economy class or 15K each way in business class.
  • How to find awards: Search United.com and look for "Saver Awards". You can also try searching via the Turkish Airlines website, but it does not always show full availability.
  • How to book awards: Not all available flights are displayed online at the Turkish Airlines website (and for many months the checkout page has been broken and missing a button to pay for your reservation). Previously phone bookings have worked and may again be possible. If all else fails, try booking via email. See our guide for booking United flights with Turkish for more detail.
  • Key warnings: Turkish agents occasionally can't see availability even though it is marked as "Saver". You may just have to try again with a different agent.
  • Transfer from: Citi, Capital One

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Hawaii

While saver business class awards to Hawaii can be difficult to find (and even rarer in lie-flat seats), Capital One has access to the sweetest sweet spot to Hawaii with Turkish Miles & Smiles charging just 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class between anywhere in the US and Hawaii. Note that when booking by phone or email, Turkish will charge for two awards if the layover is longer than 4 hours (when the online booking tool works, it will sometimes allow long layovers of as much as 10 or 11 hours, so YMMV) — and be aware of customer service limitations noted in the previous section.

Singapore KrisFlyer can be an easier option that provides decent value for either United flights or Alaska Airlines flights.

Fly United using Turkish Miles & Smiles

Turkish offers the best deal to Hawaii, bar none.  7.5K one-way in economy or 12.5K one-way in business class is insane.

  • The short story: Turkish offers the same pricing on flights to Hawaii as for other domestic US awards, making them an unbelievable value for flights to Hawaii.
  • Miles required: 7,500 miles each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class (can include connections for the same price)
  • How to find awards: Search for available award space at United.com.  Important: make sure that the results indicate that the award is a "saver award", otherwise it won't be bookable.
  • How to book awards: While it's theoretically possible to book online (details here), you'll likely have much better luck via phone.  Even then, it may take several calls to get an agent who can see that the award space is available.  Details for booking via phone can be found here.  See also:  Turkish still a mixed bag, but patience helps.
  • Key warnings: Turkish appears to have a max connect time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary, so itineraries with a longer connection would require 2 awards. Also, for an unknown reason, Turkish agents often can't see award space that other partner airlines can see.  You may have to call several times to get an award booked.  Keep in mind that transfers to Turkish are not instant; it will take 1-2 days for the miles to show up in your Turkish Miles & Smiles account.  As a result, we highly recommend calling to put an award on hold before you transfer points to Turkish miles.

Fly Alaska Airlines or United using Singapore KrisFlyer miles

Singapore offers excellent award prices to fly Alaska Airlines economy class to Hawaii.

  • The short story: Singapore KrisFlyer charges fewer miles for domestic flights to Hawaii than United does for the same flights. Additionally, they have a great chart for Alaska Airlines for those originating in parts of the US other than the East Coast.
  • Miles required: For United flights: 17,500 miles each way in economy or 34,500 in business (as compared to 22.5K / 40K through United). For Alaska Airlines flights: award prices range from 11.5K to 12.5K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available United Airlines space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com (See: Book United flights online with Singapore miles– but note that business class prices have increased since that post was written). For Alaska Airlines award space, search at AA.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Alaska awards must be booked over the phone.
  • Key warnings: Singapore allows a maximum connection time of 4 hours on a domestic itinerary and will not allow a stopover on a one-way domestic award. Be aware that United.com and AA.com will show availability for flights with longer/overnight connections that are not available with Singapore KrisFlyer miles, so be sure to double check availability at SingaporeAir.com or with a phone agent before booking. Also note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets.

Fly AA or Alaska Airlines using British Airways Avios

Avios are great for the shortest distance AA and/or Alaska Airlines non-stop economy flights to Hawaii.

  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the West Coast of the USA on Alaska Airlines or American Airlines can be a great value with Avios.
  • Miles required: 13K miles each way plus $5.60 for economy-class segments between west coast cities and Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.

Fly Delta using Air France miles

Air France is one of the cheapest options for booking Delta flights to Hawaii.  Unfortunately, Delta’s partner award space is extremely hard to find, especially for first class awards.

  • The short story: Air France charges far fewer miles than Delta for Delta flights to Hawaii, but finding award availability can be a huge challenge.
  • Miles required: 17.5K one-way in economy, or 30K one-way in business class for Delta flights from the US mainland to Hawaii.
  • How to find awards: Use the Virgin Atlantic 5 week award search to find availability (see this post for details). Next, confirm your findings at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone when the website returns errors.
  • Key warnings: Air France's website is buggy and will often return errors when trying to complete a booking. If that happens, try calling.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership RewardsBrex CashChase Ultimate RewardsCiti Thank YouCapital OneMarriott

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Europe

Economy class

Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Air France / KLM or other SkyTeam airlines)

Variable pricing means that some destinations cost much less than others, so you may save miles by having a connection beyond Paris or Amsterdam. Also keep an eye on the monthly promo rewards for opportunities to save on long-haul flights.

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but promo awards often offer good value, with economy class awards often available from as low as 10K-15K one way during some sales from select airports. They sometimes present good value for travel on other SkyTeam partners like Delta or Alitalia, but YMMV.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott

Avios (for British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia)
  • The short story: You can use British Airways, Iberia or Aer Lingus Avios to fly on those airlines for low mileage prices on nonstop routes.
  • Miles required (Note that this gets confusing, particularly for Iberia. For more on the Iberia charts, I recommend reading this post at Travel is Free):
    • For flights on British Airways or Aer Lingus booked via British Airways, Aer Lingus, or Iberia (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 13K / 20K for flights 3,000-4,000 miles flown
      • 16,250 / 25K for flights 4,001 to 5,500 miles flown
    • For flights on Iberia booked via Iberia Avios only (prices shown off-peak/peak):
      • 17K / 20K for flights 3,001-4,000 miles one way
      • 21,250 / 25K for flights 4,001-5,000 miles one way
  • How to find awards: Search for British Airways available space at britishairways.com for Aer Lingus at United.com or Avios.com. For Iberia, use the Advanced Avios tool. It's always best to search before transferring.
  • How to book awards: Book British Airways flights online at britishaiways.com or over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. You can book Aer Lingus over the phone with British Airways or use Avios.com
  • Key warnings: Note that it may be worth checking all 3 booking options (Avios.com, BritishAirways.com, and Iberia.com) to determine your best deal, though keep in mind that things like cancellation policies differ (note that Iberia offers no changes or refunds at all on most partner flights whereas British Airways offers cheap cancellation). Aer Lingus and British Airways charge for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly (Iberia charges based on cumulative distance each way, which can be cheaper on connecting itineraries).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance)
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, with some routes to Europe inexplicably pricing lower than the award chart.
  • Miles required: Officially, the LifeMiles award chart offers economy class at 20K one-way from the Northeastern US to the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Russia or 30K one-way on all other routes between the US and Europe. However, there is some inexplicable variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart), with some routes pricing well under the expected 30K economy class price (such as JFK to Zurich for 16,500 miles or Denver to Brussels for 23K). Also see: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com, though note that you may be able to make a manual booking if individual segments are available separately. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save. Also note that as of May 2020, Avianca has filed for bankruptcy protection. LifeMiles is not yet affected by this process and may not be, but given the uncertain state of global economics it may be wise to hold off on bookings that aren't time-sensitive.
  • Transfer fromAmex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Citi Thank You, Capital One, Marriott Bonvoy

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (for flying a single Oneworld partner airline)
  • The short story: Cathay Pacific has reasonable pricing for single-partner oneworld redemptions, particularly those requiring connections since they charge based on cumulative distance.
  • Miles required: 27K miles one-way for a cumulative distance of 2,751 to 5,000 miles, which covers much of the US to Europe. The next distance band, which covers up to 7,500 miles, would be less interesting at 35K.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AsiaMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Asia Miles frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AsiaMiles.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Fuel surcharges are moderate depending on route and origin.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Etihad Guest (for American Airlines or Brussels Airlines)
  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines between the US and Europe during off-peak dates (October 15 - May 15).
  • Miles required: 20K each way in economy class on American Airlines during off-peak dates (October 15 - May 15). Peak pricing is 30K each way. Note that in either instance, you will need to see saver space available via American Airlines in order to book with Etihad. If your travel is during peak dates, also consider Brussels Airlines from New York JFK or Washington IAD, which would be 27K each way in economy class (search for space on Brussels via United.com).
  • How to find awards: Search for American Airlines award space at Qantas.com. Note that you could also use the British Airways site, but it is known to sometimes show phantom AA availability.
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital OneCiti Thank You, Marriott

Premium Cabins (Business / First Class)

Air Canada Aeroplan (For complex Star Alliance itineraries with no fuel surcharges)

An easier option for Star Alliance bookings than Turkish, Aeroplan has increased award rates but also increased the size of award regions and added the ability to add a stopover on a one-way award for 5,000 miles.

  • The short story: Aeroplan significantly changed its award chart for travel between North America and Europe in 2020. As a result, flights to Europe became more expensive, though the same "Atlantic" region now includes Africa, The Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent. They also offer a stopovers on on a one-way award for 5,000 miles, which can present particular value. Lap infants are now just $25 CAD or 2,500 miles per direction (far cheaper than what most programs charge).
  • Miles required: 60K-100K each way in business class or 90K-130K each way in first class based on distance (See our complete guide to Aeroplan for more detail). Partner awards no longer incur fuel surcharges.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Key warnings: You'll pay more miles based on distance, but keep in mind that you can add a stopover on a one-way for 5,000 miles, which makes Aeoplan a better deal if you're looking to visit two countries in one trip (like Spain & India or Germany & South Africa or Portugal & Morocco as examples).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards (coming in 2021), Capital One, Marriott

Air France / KLM Flying Blue (for Air France and KLM)

Flying Blue doesn’t have a set award chart, but their monthly Promo Rewards often make it possible to fly to Europe in business class for 45K miles or less.

  • The short story: Monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards can sometimes offer excellent value between the US and Europe
  • Miles required: Varies. Air France no longer has an award chart, but the "normal" price to Europe is around 60K one way in business class. Promo awards often offer better value, with business class awards often available in the 40K’s and sometimes as low as the 20K’s depending on destination.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AirFrance.us (you’ll need to create a free Flying Blue frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AirFrance.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Air France / KLM do add fuel surcharges, though they are often reasonable (about $150-$250 in taxes and fees each way)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance with no fuel surcharges and cheaper mixed-cabin awards)

While the “regular” rate is 63K miles each way in business class, the nice thing about Avianca LifeMiles is their mixed-cabin pricing: if you have a long economy class leg in your itinerary, you may be able to get to Europe with the transoceanic leg in business class for under 50K miles total. Pricing anomalies on some routes mean business class to Europe can be as cheap as 35K miles one way. Also great for flying with no fuel surcharges.

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards, especially in first class, with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: 63K each way in business or 87K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance, with some routes inexplicably pricing well below the official award chart like Newark to Lisbon for 35K miles in business class (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). Mixed-cabin business class itineraries can price from as low as 49K. See: Trying to crack  the LifeMiles secret code to Europe.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com, though you may be able to email for a manual booking. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Brex Cash, Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Emirates Skywards (for Emirates)

You’ll need to book round trip to get the best deals, but at 90K round trip in business or 170K round trip in first, they are deals indeed (note that first class used to cost just 135K, but that changed in 2021).

  • The short story: Emirates charges a very reasonable number of miles for business or first class between New York (JFK) and Milan or Newark (EWR) and Athens, with round-trip pricing being particularly attractive.
  • Miles required: 62.5K one-way / 90K round trip in business class or 85K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for availability at Emirates.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at Emirates.com
  • Key warnings: Emirates used to have high fuel surcharges, but these days the fees are quite reasonable (around $60 to Europe and $100 from Europe for a total of around $160 round trip)
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy, Brex Cash

Etihad Guest (for Royal Air Maroc, Brussels Airlines, or American Airlines)

While the Royal Air Maroc and Brussels Airlines sweet spots have soured a bit, Etihad still offers a competitive rate to Brussels or Casablanca (easy connections to Europe from there) and also still offers good value on American Airlines.

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on American Airlines, Brussels Airlines, or Royal Air Maroc between the US and Europe.
  • Miles required: 44K each way in business class on Brussels Airlines or 44K to Casablanca on Royal Air Maroc (connections to Europe will add additional miles now, fuel surcharges around $170 each way) or 50K each way in business class on American Airlines (no fuel surcharges). First class on AA is only 62.5K miles one-way, but AA only operates 3-cabin first class on a couple of routes and award space may be hard to come by.
  • How to find awards: Search for Brussels award space on United.com, American award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com), or Royal Air Maroc award space on RoyalAirMaroc.com (you'll need to create a free Safar Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again).
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi Thank You Marriott Bonvoy

Iberia Avios (for Iberia)

Potentially the cheapest deal on miles, Iberia is one you shouldn’t ignore if you can fly direct from one of their Eastern US gateways to Spain. Note that you can transfer Avios directly between British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus.

  • The short story: Iberia charges as few as 34K miles one-way in business class on its own flights from New York, Boston, Chicago, or DC to Madrid during off-peak season. Sometimes they run a winter travel promotion for even less.
  • Miles required: Varies by distance. Best deal are the cities above to Madrid: 34K during off-peak dates or 50K during peak dates on Iberia metal. Fuel surcharges are very mild (Around $175 in total taxes & fees round trip. If booking one-way, surcharges are higher leaving Europe than flying to Europe.)
  • How to find awards: Search Iberia.com using the Advanced Avios Search Tool
  • How to book awards: Book at Iberia.com after using the Advanced Avios Search Tool.
  • Key warnings: Iberia's website can be challenging to navigate and availability can be challenging to find. There are some surcharges, but at under a hundred bucks from the US to Europe, they are much milder than when using British Airways Avios. Note that Iberia's award chart is distance-based, so itineraries with connections will require more miles.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership RewardsChase Ultimate Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy

Turkish Miles & Smiles (for Star Alliance)

At 45K each way, this can be a great option for one-way Star Alliance itineraries, but not for those airlines with high fuel surcharges.

  • The short story: At 45K each way in business class or 67.5K each way in business class, Turkish offers one of the best mileage rates to Europe - but watch out for fuel surcharges on some partners. Still, fuel surcharges may be worth it in some instances given the low rates (particularly in first class).
  • Miles required: 45K miles each way in business class or 67.5K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at united.com and call Turkish to book or go to turkishairlines.com, log in to your account, go to "Miles transactions" to find the Star Alliance booking tool and click "book now" to go to that search tool (not the tool on the home page at turkishairlines.com). Note that there may be bookable options that do not appear on the site (hence checking United and calling when necessary).
  • How to book awards: Book online at turkishairlines.com using the instructions above or over the phone at 1-800-874-8875 or via email
  • Key warnings: Turkish is sometimes unable to see Star Alliance availability for no explicable reason. However, Turkish allows a hold for long enough for points to transfer from Citi. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you get your desired itinerary on hold via phone or email before transferring points. No fuel surcharges on Air Canada, United, Avianca, or SAS. Low fuel surcharges on LOT Polish and Turkish.
  • Transfer from: Capital One, Citi Thank You, Marriott Bonvoy

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Asia

Air Canada Aeroplan (for Star Alliance, especially complex itineraries)
  • The short story: Aeroplan offers decent pricing for awards to and from Asia, but the real value in the program is now the ability to add a stopover on a one-way award for 5,000 additional miles, making it possible to combine two destinations on one award. The Pacific Zone includes most of Eastern Asia and also Australia and New Zealand. India and Central Asia are in the Atlantic Zone. Lap infants are only 2,500 miles.
  • Miles required: The Pacific Zone ranges from 55K-105K one-way in business class (plus 5K miles for a stopover), which can be a particularly good value for awards combining Asia and the South Pacific in one itinerary. The Atlantic Zone ranges from 60K-100K (though getting to destinations classified as Asia likely requires 85K or 100K miles each way before stopover).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • No fuel surcharges on: Aeroplan no longer charges fuel surcharges.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Marriott

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance, especially mixed-cabin itineraries)
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers decent pricing to Asia with no fuel surcharges. Business class awards may be semi-hackable by finding the right partners and/or adding a long economy class leg.
  • Miles required: From 75K each way in business or 90K each way in first class, no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (for oneworld)
  • The short story: Cathay Pacific has reasonable pricing for business and first class on long itineraries, but it can get quite a bit better if you're able to pair the long-haul flight with a long leg in a lower class. See: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles mixed cabin award pricing. First class for less.
  • Miles required: 85K miles each way in business class or 125K each way in first class on itineraries over 7500 miles (less for some itineraries from the West Coast and less yet with mixed-cabin pricing as shown above)
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at AsiaMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Asia Miles frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at AsiaMiles.com. Can also book via phone.
  • Key warnings: Fuel surcharges are moderate depending on route and origin.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

EVA Air Infinity MileageLands (for EVA or Star Alliance)

Note that Capital One miles transfer to EVA at a rate of 2:1.5. That means you’ll need to increase the prices below by 33% to determine the number of Capital One miles necessary.

EVA offers reasonable award pricing and far more availability to members of its own program.

  • The short story: EVA offers fairly average pricing at 75K or 80K each way from the US to Asia in business class, but offers what is widely regarded as one of the best business class products in the sky. The best value is booking round trip since EVA allows 2 stopovers (one each way) on a round trip (max 6 segments, no stopover on a one-way).
  • Miles required: 75K / 80K each way from North America to Asia (80K from Chicago, New York, Houston, or Toronto)
  • How to find awards: Search EVAAir.com
  • How to book awards: Book simple awards online at EVAAir.com. Must call and book over the phone for stopovers.
  • Key warnings: Star Alliance pricing is higher (87K / 97K each way according to Travel is Free). Best use is for EVA flights since they release more award space to their own members.
  • Transfer from: Capital One, Citi

Qantas Frequent Flyer (for El Al flights to Israel)
  • The short story: Qantas offers good partner pricing for El Al flights to Israel.
  • Miles required: 78K points in business class on El Al between Tel Aviv and Boston, Newark, and New York JFK. 92K points in business between Tel Aviv and Chicago, Miami. 104K points in business between Tel Aviv and Los Angeles or San Francisco. With a transfer bonus, these rates can get better. No fuel surcharges for travel on El Al.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Citi, Marriott

Singapore Krisflyer (for expanded availability on Singapore)
  • The short story: While award prices are high, Singapore KrisFlyer has much better availability in premium cabins for their own members. They also offer a stopover on a one-way award.
  • Miles required: 95K / 99K from the West Coast / East Coast to Singapore in business class or 130K / 132K in first class (see the full award chart here).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at United.com (Note: Do not log in — logging in may show you expanded availability based on your credit card or elite status that is not available for partner bookings) or SingaporeAir.com
  • How to book awards: Book online at SingaporeAir.com or over the phone with Singapore KrisFlyer. Can waitlist as many options as you’d like as long as you have enough miles to book the award being waitlisted.
  • Key warnings: Note that transfers to Singapore KrisFlyer are not instant. Transfers typically take 12-24 hours (from all major transferable currencies) and Singapore does not hold award tickets. Waitlisted itineraries that do not clear by 14 days prior to departure will get canceled.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Marriott

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Caribbean / Latin America

Similar to domestic US flights, Avianca LifeMiles and Qantas can offer better value than United and American for the same flights. If you’re looking to fly to Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands on United, Turkish Miles & Smiles will be your best bet.

Fly American Airlines with British Airways Avios
  • The short story: British Airways offers a distance-based award chart, so flights from the southern part of the US to the Caribbean and Latin America can be a solid value.
  • Miles required: Varies based on distance. From 7.5K one-way in economy class.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at britishairways.com for AA or aa.com for Alaska flights.
  • How to book awards: Book American flights online at britishaiways.com or Alaska flights over the phone at 1 800 452 1201.
  • Key warnings: British Airways charges for each segment separately, so multi-segment trips can get expensive quickly. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Aiways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Fly American Airlines with Qantas Frequent Flyer miles
  • The short story: Qantas offers better pricing than traditional American Airlines award prices on itineraries with a distance of 1200 miles or fewer each way and has no close-in booking fee. This could be especially good for short international flights like Miami to Grand Cayman or other points in the Southern US to the Caribbean.
  • Miles required: 8,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 600 miles (like Miami to Grand Cayman) or 12,000 miles each way for itineraries covering a distance up to 1200 miles (like Miami to most of Central America and the Caribbean). (See: Strengths of Qantas for AA redemptions).
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Avios, either through British Airways or Iberia, might be a better value if you have direct flights if you have access to points which transfer to Avios. However, for flights with connections, Qantas can be a better deal.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Fly JetBlue with Emirates Skywards miles
  • The short story: Emirates Skywards offers cheap short-haul one-ways on JetBlue. The best deals to the Caribbean are originating in Florida or San Juan.
  • Miles required: From 7,500 miles each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available "U" space via ExpertFlyer or call Emirates at 1-800-777-3999.
  • How to book awards: Over the phone with Emirates at 1-800-777-3999.
  • Key warnings: It will likely only be the cheapest revenue fares that are available as awards. JetBlue may therefore be charging even fewer TrueBlue points for the same awards. Further, Emirates charges for each segment separately. See this chart for direct/nonstop pricing by route.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Brex, Citi, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Fly United, Copa, or Avianca with Avianca LifeMiles 
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers one-ways on United to the “rest of North America” (i.e. not the US) for 12,500 miles each way in economy class.
  • Miles required: 12,500 miles each way in economy class
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Citi, Capital One, Marriott

Fly United, Copa, or Avianca with Turkish Miles & Smiles miles
  • The short story: Turkish Miles & Smiles offers excellent award pricing for Star Alliance flights within North America (i.e. on United, Copa or Air Canada).
  • Miles required: From 7,500 miles each way in economy or 12,500 miles each way in business class. Note that domestic flights are 7,500 each way in economy class or 12,500 miles each way in business class which includes the continental US to/from Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. International destinations in North America theoretically cost 10K each in economy or 15K in business. However, note that most Caribbean islands are classified as South America and as such are a poor deal.
  • How to find awards: Search United.com and look for "Saver Awards". You can also try searching via the Turkish Airlines website, but it does not always show full availability.
  • How to book awards: You can try booking on the Miles & Smiles website, though not all flights are available online. Previously phone bookings have worked and may again be possible. If all else fails, try booking via email. See our guide for booking United flights with Turkish for more detail.
  • Key warnings: Turkish agents occasionally can't see availability even though it is marked as "Saver". You may just have to try again with a different agent.
  • Transfer from: Capital One, Citi,

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Africa

It’s hard to beat the value of using Etihad Guest for Royal Air Maroc to get to Africa, especially considering the fact that Royal Air Maroc serves many destinations that may be otherwise more difficult to reach on an award ticket. However, if you don’t live near an airport served by Royal Air Maroc, using Air Canada’s Aeroplan to book a Star Alliance award in business class is probably your next best bet.

Air Canada Aeroplan (for Star Alliance, particularly with stopovers)
  • The short story: Aeroplan includes Africa in its "Atlantic" zone, meaning that the award pricing range matches that to Europe and you could even add a stopover in Europe en route to Africa for 5K additional miles one-way. Lap infants are just 2,500 miles.
  • Miles required: Ranges from 60K to 100K in business class based on distance (add 5K miles for a stopover). First class ranges from 90K-130K one way. See more chart information here.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Fuel surcharges: Aeroplan no longer adds fuel surcharges to awards.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Capital One, Marriott

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance, especially mixed-cabin awards)
  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles offers competitive pricing for Star Alliance awards with no fuel surcharges.
  • Miles required: Officially, 78K each way in business or 105K each way in first class with no fuel surcharges. Note that there is some variance (See: The secret LifeMiles award chart). Also see: Avianca LifeMiles’ awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for ways to fly first class for even fewer miles). In short, it is possible to pair the long-haul flights in business with connecting segments in economy class to pay fewer total miles.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you’ll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points. Keep in mind that the mandatory $25 booking fee (added to all bookings) is the same whether one-way or round trip, so book round trip to save.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points, Capital One miles, Marriott Bonvoy

Etihad Guest (for Royal Air Maroc)

While the Royal Air Maroc sweet spot has soured a bit, Etihad still offers a competitive rate to Casablanca.

  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers a good value for flying on Royal Air Maroc between the US and Casablanca.
  • Miles required: 44K miles each way in business class between North America and Casablanca plus about $170 in fuel surcharges one-way. Additional segments are priced individually.
  • How to find awards: Search for award space at RoyalAirMaroc.com. You’ll need to create a free Royal Air Maroc Safar Flyer account to search.
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again). Note also that Etihad Guest does add fuel surcharges. The best way to find the total in taxes & fuel surcharges is to check ITA Matrix.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One, Citi ThankYou Points.

Turkish Miles & Smiles (for Star Alliance)
  • The short story: Turkish offers excellent pricing to North Africa on Star Alliance carriers and decent award pricing to Central and Southern Africa.
  • Miles required: 60K miles each way in business class to North Africa, 72.5K miles each way in business class to Central Africa, and 85K each way in business class to Southern Africa
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at united.com and call Turkish to book or go to turkishairlines.com, log in to your account, go to "Miles transactions" to find the Star Alliance booking tool and click "book now" to go to that search tool (not the tool on the home page at turkishairlines.com). Note that there may be bookable options that do not appear on the site (hence checking United and calling when necessary).
  • How to book awards: Book online at turkishairlines.com using the instructions above or over the phone at 1-800-874-8875 or via email
  • Key warnings: Turkish is sometimes unable to see Star Alliance availability for no explicable reason. However, Turkish allows a hold for long enough for points to transfer from Citi. For this reason, it is strongly recommended that you get your desired itinerary on hold via phone or email before transferring points.
  • Transfer from: Capital One, Citi ThankYou points, Marriott Bonvoy

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Australia / New Zealand / Oceania

While this region is notoriously difficult to reach in premium cabins on award tickets, Air Canada probably has the best availability from North America if you’re willing to route through Vancouver.

Air Canada Aeroplan (for Star Alliance)

Note that Aeroplan sometimes prices awards on Air Canada flights more cheaply for members of Aeroplan.

  • The short story: Aeroplan significantly changed its award chart for travel between North America and Oceania in 2020. Oceania is now included in the same region as Eastern Asia. While awards to Oceania mostly increased in price, members can now book a stopover in eastern Asia en route to Australia or New Zealand for 5K additional miles one-way. Lap infants are now just $25 CAD or 2,500 miles per direction (far cheaper than what most programs charge).
  • Miles required: 55K-105K each way in business class or 90K-140K each way in fist class from North America to the Pacific zone, though practically for most North America-based flyers, distance bands start at 75K / 105K each way. See more detail here.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Aeroplan.com (you’ll need to create a free Aeroplan frequent flyer account to search)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Aeroplan.com. Can also book via phone. Lap infants must be added to your reservation over the phone.
  • Fuel Surcharges: Aeroplan no longer charges fuel surcharges on partner award tickets.
  • Transfer from: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards (coming in 2021), Capital One, Marriott

Avianca LifeMiles (for Star Alliance, especially on mixed-cabin awards)

The nice thing about Avianca is that even if you don’t have the necessary points/miles, you can often buy them for less than 1.4c each.

  • The short story: Avianca LifeMiles might have somewhat hackable awards if you could find premium cabin space on the long-haul.
  • Miles required: 80K miles in business class from the US to Australia / New Zealand / Oceania, but see Avianca LifeMiles' awesome mixed-cabin award pricing: First class for less for info on how this might be hackable if premium space exists. Note also that Air New Zealand economy class flights price lower than the chart shows for flights to/from Los Angeles. Business class may also price lower if you can find availability.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at LifeMiles.com (you’ll need to create a free Avianca LifeMiles frequent flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at LifeMiles.com. Can also book via email. Phone bookings are known to be a hassle but also possible.
  • Key warnings: Availability at LifeMiles.com does not always match what you'll find at United.com. Phone agents generally do not see better availability than what is shown at LifeMiles.com. Always check the LifeMiles site before transferring points.

British Airways Avios (for oneworld, especially multi-partner)

In this case, British Airways Avios are better than Iberia or Aer Lingus Avios.

  • The short story: British Airways offers an award chart for travel on a single partner and a lesser-known chart for travel on two partners. That second chart could save you some Avios if you were to mix AA and Qantas for example.
  • Miles required: From around 200K "round trip" in business class from most US cities (can vary based on distance). See the mixed partner chart along with an excellent explanation for how to leverage it here. In short, you could turn this into a multi-stop, multi-carrier journey and the number of miles required will vary some but be less than booking separately via British Airways
  • How to find awards: Search for available space on each segment separately at britishairways.com.
  • How to book awards: Book over the phone at 1 800 452 1201. According to Head for Points, there isn’t a clear methodology for pricing mixed-cabin awards. I suspect some agents may be less well versed in this mixed chart.
  • Key warnings: This secondary chart would save miles over the single-carrier chart, which would price a one-way to Australia at 154K one-way assuming a single carrier and single segment (add more for additional segments). However, as this is a lesser-known chart, some agents may not be well versed in using it. Be prepared to hang up and call again. Furthermore, the British Airways site sometimes shows phantom award space for AA (see: Phantom menace: an award search time suck). You may want to double-check Qantas.com for availability before transferring to British Airways Executive Club for American flights.
  • Transfer from: Amex, Chase, Capital One, Marriott

Etihad Guest (for American Airlines)
  • The short story: Etihad Guest offers flights on American Airlines based on the old American Airlines chart (which itself devalued several years ago).
  • Miles required: 62.5K each way in business class, 72.5K each way in first class
  • How to find awards: Search for American saver award space on AA.com (you may want to double-check availability at Qantas.com)
  • How to book awards: Call Etihad Guest at 1-877-690-0767.
  • Key warnings: Etihad phone agents have historically had trouble booking partner awards, though the new call center in Serbia appears to be quite competent. If your agent appears to be having trouble, you might want to HUCA (hang up, call again). Note that finding saver premium cabin availability on American Airlines is only slightly more likely than getting struck by lightning.

Qantas for Jetstar

This won’t be a luxurious way to get to Australia or New Zealand, but it may be the cheapest.

  • The short story: Qantas's low-cost-carrier Jetstar flies between Hawaii and several Australian cities and can be booked with Qantas points.
  • Miles required: 57,600 miles one-way in business class from Honolulu to Sydney on Jetstar before September 18, 2019, 61,500 miles thereafter.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Jetstar flights can be quite cheap. While their business class is much more expensive than their economy class fares, it's worth comparing to cash fares to be sure you're getting a decent value.

Qantas for Emirates

If you’re looking to fly fancy, this is your ticket.

  • The short story: While the award cost here is substantially higher than others included in this sweet-spot post, it may be worth it to those who really want an indulgently long experience in Emirates business class. It is possible to spend upwards of ~30 hours in A380 business class by routing via Dubai (note that some US cities have 777 service, which is likely angled in business class).
  • Miles required: 159,000 miles one-way in business class between North American cities and those cities served by Emirates in Australia and New Zealand.
  • How to find awards: Search for available space at Qantas.com (you’ll need to create a free Qantas Frequent Flyer account)
  • How to book awards: Book online at Qantas.com.
  • Key warnings: Choose A380 routes to get a fully-flat aisle access business class seat with a bar at the rear of the plane.

Capital One Miles Sweet Spots: Bottom line

Capital One has really enhanced the value of its program in the past year. While many of the awards above cost a large quantity of Capital One “Miles”, the fact that those “Miles” are earned at a rate of 2 per dollar spent on both the Venture card and the Spark Miles card means that many of these awards are attainable from a spend standpoint despite the large numbers. Hopefully we will continue to see good transfer bonuses that further increase the value of the program.

For sweet spots in other programs, see:

Amex Membership Rewards sweet spots

Chase Ultimate Rewards sweet spots

Citi ThankYou points sweet spots

Marriott Bonvoy airline partner sweet spots

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