Most of us work very hard to accumulate as many credit card points as possible. We do so because of the rewards we will end up getting out of it. It might be a free flight or even a free hotel stay. Maybe it's enough cash back to purchase something new for your home.
Whatever the reward might be, it's not easy racking up a substantial amount of points. Because of that, it's important to make sure the value you are receiving upon redemption is as high as possible. Here are five tips for receiving better credit card rewards redemptions.
Take Advantage of Transfer Bonuses
If you have a credit card that is part of a transferable point program, then one of the best ways to get maximum value for your credit card rewards is to take advantage of transfer bonuses.
Chase won't typically offer transfer bonuses through their Ultimate Rewards program, but we frequently see bonuses with American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points.
To give you a better idea, let's consider a transfer bonus that was offered earlier this year. You were able to cash in your Citi ThankYou points with a 25 percent bonus on Virgin Atlantic Airlines. Typically, you can get a redemption value of 1:1, but with this promo, it was 1.25:1. If you transferred 20,000 Citi ThankYou points, you would have received 25,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.
It's important to keep in mind that transfer bonuses usually only last a couple of weeks. This means it's important that you act fast, and not on a purely speculative basis. You don't want to transfer the points without having a plan to use them in the near future.
Reduced Mileage Rewards
With all the devaluation that has happened within the airline industry the past several years, it's crucial that you do your research to make sure you are getting the best deal on award flights. A few of the U.S. legacy carriers have reduced mileage award tickets. These allow you to book an airline ticket to different parts of the U.S. for a discounted rate.
One of the more popular and widespread programs is through American Airlines. If you have one of the American Airlines co-branded Citi credit cards, then you could book a flight for up to a 7,500-mile discount. Throughout the year, American Airlines will release a new list of cities that are eligible and it's typically pretty extensive.
In 2015, Delta Airlines announced that they would start offering some of their award flights for just 5,000 miles each way. Unlike the program with American Airlines, there aren't any set destinations that Delta offers their discounted flights on. It's mostly based on the cash price. Cheaper flights, like those from Los Angeles to San Francisco or Portland to Seattle, would be the flights most likely to show the discounted rates.
Another program that also runs discounted award tickets is United. However, it is much more limited than both American and Delta. United will run sales occasionally where you can book certain tickets for a percentage off the number of miles normally needed.
Discount Hotel Rewards
Just like how some airlines offer discounted award flights, there are a couple of hotel chains that do the same for hotel nights. The first is IHG PointBreaks. Every few months, IHG will offer different hotels around the world for a deeply discounted 5,000 points per night. Some included properties are at Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza and even some InterContinental hotels.
Another discounted hotel reward program is Marriott PointSavers. Typically, a Marriott hotel will cost between 7,500 and 45,000 points per night for an award stay. They also publish a PointSavers award chart where prices are anywhere from 1,500 points to 5,000 points off per night depending on the hotel category. These discounted rates are not available at each hotel, so it really depends on where you are planning to visit and the dates.
Free Hotel Nights
Everyone loves to earn free hotel nights, but did you know there are multiple ways to get a free night with your points? When you stay at a Marriott hotel and redeem your points for a four-night stay, for example, you will receive a fifth night for free.
Another hotel chain to offer this benefit is Starwood. When you redeem your Starwood points for five nights, your fifth night will be free. This is valid on any category three through seven properties.
In addition, if you are a Citi Prestige cardholder, then they have a benefit where you can get a free night when you book four or more nights. The free night comes in the form of a statement credit. To take advantage of this, you must book your stay through the Citi Travel Concierge service.
The last way to get better credit card rewards redemptions is by taking advantage of redemption bonuses. If you have Starwood points and want to transfer them to one of their many airline partners, then they offer a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. This is a great way to earn a few extra miles towards your next trip.
The next time you book a hotel or a flight using your credit card rewards, make sure you are using one of these strategies. They will allow you to receive added value from your credit card rewards redemption.
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