The Tools We Use (for playing the points and miles game)


The post “The Games We Play,” outlines some of the top techniques for earning more points & miles, for getting more out of our points & miles, for saving money, and getting elite perks for less. In this post, you’ll find the tools we use to help us achieve these goals.

This post has been updated with additional award search tools and numerous small updates.

tools for miles and points

General tools for playing the miles and points game

Tools for earning more points & miles

The heart of this game lies in earning points & miles, usually without traveling. Here are some of the top tools for miles & points.

Credit card bonuses

Credit card welcome bonuses are the quickest and easiest way to earn crazy amounts of points & miles quickly. We use these tools to make the most of it:

Credit card bonus categories

Many credit cards offer extra points for spend within certain categories.

  • Best category bonuses: Visit this page to see which cards have the best bonuses for different categories of spend (e.g. drug stores, gas stations, dining, etc.)
  • Award Wallet Merchant Category Lookup Tool. In addition to keeping track of your point balances, Award Wallet provides an easy way to lookup merchants to see how those merchants have been coded so that you can determine whether or not you’ll earn a category bonus.
  • Doctor of Credit’s Payment Workshop: Doctor of Credit maintains a table indicating whether or not various purchases earned category bonuses with various cards. The data mostly comes from reader reports.

Shopping portals

If you’re planning to buy something online you might as well earn extra miles, points or cash back by starting your shopping with an online shopping portal. Use these tools to maximize your rewards:

Increase credit card spending

It’s possible to increase credit card spend without draining your bank account.

Award bookings

Once you’ve earned points and miles, the next step of the game is to use those points towards maximum value. Here are some tools for getting more out of your points and miles…

Transferable Points

Transferable points, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards, Capital One Miles, and more are awesome because they make it possible to find the best award deals and then transfer your points to the appropriate program to book those deals. Here are some helpful resources:

  • Current Transfer Bonuses: There are often bonuses when transferring points to airline or hotel programs. Use this page to see which bonuses are current and which have expired (the latter gives you an idea of whether to wait in the hopes that a similar bonus will happen again).
  • Complete List of Transferable Points Partners: Use this page to find all transfer options from major transferable points programs.

Hotel awards

  • Trip Planning:
    • Awayz (affiliate link). This tool makes it easy to find points-bookable hotels for your upcoming trips. Simply enter the location where you’re going and the dates when you’ll be there and Awayz will show you all of the points options, cash prices, and will recommend whether each hotel is a better deal paying with points or cash. Our affiliate link will automatically cut $10 off this tool’s first year price. Save $20 off your first year with code FREQUENTMILER20 (Expires April 2 at 11:59 p.m. ET). 
    • PointsYeah Hotels (affiliate link). Like Awayz, this tool makes it easy to find points-bookable hotels for your upcoming trips. PointsYeah also throws in useful information that is uniquely of interest to point-collectors such as the price to book hotels through AA or United (and how many miles you’ll earn), the price for booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts (and what benefits you’ll get), and more.
  • Hard-to-find hotel awards: Some of the most popular hotels can be difficult to book with points or free night certificates because their base rooms fill up quickly. MaxMyPoint (affiliate link) makes it possible to find opportunities to book these hotels through its full year award calendars and flexible alerts.

Flight awards

Finding flight awards can be really tough. Fortunately, 3rd party tools can help.

Flight Award Tools for All Skill Levels

  • PointsYeah may be the best all-around award search tool. It offers flexible flight award searches, “discovery” searches, and hotel searches. It especially shines with what I’m calling “discovery” searches (where it shows you flights that are available across dates and destinations). For details see: A new breed of award discovery tools.
  • Points Path integrates with Google Flights and automatically shows point prices next to cash prices, but only for select airline programs. For details, see: Points Path: An easy “set and forget” award search tool.
  • offers comprehensive award searches and detailed instructions for beginners. Unfortunately, searches run very slowly. For more information see: see: Which award search tool is best?
  • PointsYeah and AwardTool don’t do as much handholding for beginners, but they run much faster than and offer more powerful features including multi-date searches, multiple airport searches, and award alerts. For more information see: see: Which award search tool is best?
  • SeatSpy is an excellent tool for finding specific non-stop routes on certain airlines. Full details about the tool and what it is best used for can be found here: SeatSpy: A tool for finding non-stop awards. Why is that useful?
  • AA Award Map Tool. Find available awards based on how much you’re willing to spend. See this post for details.

Flight Award Tools for Experts

With each of the following tools, you need to know what you’re doing to get the most out of them, but each is very powerful:

  • Seats.Aero: This tool which makes it easy to find unicorn award flights such as Qatar QSuites, Delta One, Lufthansa first class, etc. Full details here: a wonderfully nerdy tool for finding Unicorn flight awards.
  • Expert Flyer: Use Expert Flyer to search for award availability on specific supported airlines. Expert Flyer lets you search a week at a time, but only one airline at a time. It will also let you set alerts for specific flights. This tool is best used when you know which airline you want to fly and want to find award or upgrade space.

More flight award tools

  • Award Alerts: Several services such as Straight to the Points and Thrifty Traveler Premium alert readers when great flight awards are available.
  • Which routes exist? To find the best awards, it helps to know your options:
    • Graphically displays all direct routes from any given departure airport.
    • Shows all flight routes that depart any selected airport.
    • Wikipedia: Pull up the Wikipedia page for any airport, then click to “Airlines and destinations.” This will show you all of the direct flights, by airline, from that airport.
  • How much should an award cost? A number of tools exist to try to answer this question. Unfortunately, they don’t always keep up with the latest award chart changes, but they can be a good place to start your investigations…
  • Additional paid tools to help find awards:
  • Award Booking Services: If you don’t have the skill, knowledge, or time to find the best awards for your needs, consider employing an award booking service instead.

Deal seeking

Often, this hobby is purely about seeking the best deal. Usually these deals are travel deals, but not always. Here are some tools for finding good deals, (with and without points and miles).

Flight deals

Hotel deals

  • Current Hotel Promotions: We keep a running list of all of the best hotel promos here.
  • HotelSlash: Email your hotel confirmation to HotelSlash and they’ll alert you if/when the price goes down.
  • Google Hotels: This is an excellent and easy to use site which shows hotel prices across many platforms.
  • Kayak: This is a general tool for searching for the best airfare, car rentals, hotels, and more. I especially like how it compares prices across many different sites. Make sure to log into Kayak to see member-only pricing.
  • Pruvo: Use this tool to get alerted to price drops after you book a hotel. See this Travel with Grant post for details.

Car Rental Deals

Other travel deals

Non-travel deals

  • SlickDeals Hot Deals Forum: If a good deal exists, it can probably be found here. If you register for an account, you can setup alerts for specific stores or products. Or, if you prefer to see all the best deals as they’re happening, try Live View (see this post for details).
  • Current Amex Offers: Many banks offer deals for using their credit card with specific merchants. Amex, though, tends to have far more offers than its rivals and at times these offers are crazily generous. Use our Current Amex Offers page to see which offers are current before logging into each of your Amex cards to see if you’ve been targeted for any of those deals.

Elite perks

  • Best Credit Card Offers: Many credit cards offer elite status directly or elite benefits (such as lounge access). This page shows the top perks for each listed credit card. Look for the “noteworthy perks” section for each card.
  • Best Big Spend Bonuses: Many credit cards offer elite status with high spend. This page lists the best options for earning status with big spend.
  • Lounge Buddy: Lounge Buddy is an app that details lounge options at airports. You can set up Lounge Buddy with information about the credit cards you have that offer lounge access and any elite status you may have with airlines. Lounge Buddy will automatically use this information to tell you which lounges you should have free access to.
  • One of the best ways to get elite status is by asking for a match from another program. StatusMatcher is a useful site for finding out what status matches work and don’t work before trying yourself.

What should beginners do?

I imagine that this post must be overwhelming to those just starting out in this hobby. If that’s you, I recommend starting with these free tools for points and miles enthusiasts:

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Awardmapper is now defunct. That was the only one I found useful. Data wasn’t reliable but at least I could see what hotel chains existed in a part of town I wanted to stay in. Location is the most important for me and it was the only useful tool that aggregated all the chains into one map.


Extreme Hotel Deals appears to be defunct, it’s now showing an expired domain page

Vu Tri

What do you think of PointsYeah?


Excellent episode! Regarding whether it’s useful to check in online for an international flight, I still think it’s worth the time savings — sometimes I can get a boarding pass and just have my passport checked at the gate.

A specific incident in favor of this applied to me today: I’m flying LAX-BNE-ADL tonight booked on Qantas through Alaska (thanks to last summer’s tip here about wide-open Qantas business-class availability!) but had a positioning flight this morning booked separately (EWR-LAX on JetBlue). Having the Qantas boarding pass meant that I could freshen up in the AA Flagship Lounge on arrival at LAX and have a bite there.



As a Chicagoan, I’d add SpotHero to the ParkWhiz mention. SpotHero usually has many more options.


The Kivalens link is insecure non-https://. Hope it is a reliable site. The last comment in your old “Kivalens resurfaces better than before” post is from 4 years ago.


You guys Rock! for parking deals at airports when you are travelling – YMMV on rates/airports/dates.


I Told u that Many years ago the best thing u ever created . Anyone can travel the world or at least upgrade what their doing . V Bernie


Another one I like is WalletFlo. Good for those that can’t remember which card to use for which category

Last edited 1 year ago by Tom

Great resource


For hotel availability, I use to find availability at a glance, especially for Hyatt since the native award calendar/search is not useful for seeing availability


Shouldn’t the car rental section be a little more than just autoslash, esp considering the latest post from Nick?


AVS but not ExpertFlyer?


I am a longtime churner (>8 years). I am a regular reader of Reddit r/churning as well as this site and have learned much from the blogs, but find them often inefficient to slog through as they does not summarize DPs (data points of various persons’ experiences).
Q: Many churners struggle with failed cc applications. Is there any good relatively accurate tool available to predict the probability of (a) the success of a credit card application and (b) which credit bureau it will pull from, based on others’ recent data points, using data like: card applied for, applicant history (x/6, y/12, z/24), applicant residency state, income, applicant made reconsideration call, applied online/at bank etc? I know DoC did a very valuable survey like this (link) but it was short lived and is now 6 years old.
Q2: If not, isn’t this a REALLY GOOD idea?