Few weeks ago I wrote a post on ways you can maximize 50,000 Membership Rewards points for family travel. I did some further research and decided to add a few more partner airlines. Without further ado, 50,000 points would equal:
1) Singapore Airlines Krisflyer program: 50,000 miles (transfer takes 1 day)
You can see the award chart HERE
Even though the quoted mileage is for a roundtrip flight, one-ways are allowed for half the price. The best redemption for family would be a ticket within the Continental US (including Alaska) and Canada on United for 12,500 miles, no fuel surcharges.
The best leverage opportunity is to redeem for flights to Hawaii on United for only 17,500 miles one way. Mileage Plus program charges 22,500 miles for the same ticket. 50,000 points would be almost enough for 3 one-way tickets to Hawaii on United. You would have to book over the phone, but there is no fee involved.
Since Singapore Airlines is now a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, you could top off your account using Chase program. Ultimate Rewards can be earned through Chase Sapphire Preferred card (pays me commission).
I didn’t realize this, but apparently, Singapore Airlines flies to Europe en-route to Asia.
It costs 20,000 Singapore Airlines miles for a 1-way award ticket from New York JFK to Frankfurt and Houston to Moscow. If you book online, it’s only 17,000 miles, since you get a 15 percent discount on awards for Singapore Airlines operated flights. Availability is very good.
There are fuel surcharges of around $180 per person per one-way ticket. Still, Houston-Moscow route in the summer for 17,000 miles is a fantastic deal even with surcharges. (h/t Million Mile Secrets blog)
2) Flying Blue Air France program: 50,000 miles (instant transfer)
You can see more info on their award program HERE
The page is not user-friendly at all, and I have read that many have problems when talking to an agent. However, if you are willing to give it a shot, there are some decent opportunities.
You can redeem for one-way awards on Delta for 12,500 miles, since they are partners. The best option would be to watch for when Air France discounts awards to Europe, as even with fuel surcharges it could be worth it for some.
For example, there is a promo from Air France going on now for up to 50% off awards. Economy ticket costs only 12,500 miles one-way from Houston to Europe with reasonable fuel surcharges, if booked in June for travel in August or September. See more details HERE
50,000 points would give you 4 one-way tickets on Delta within Continental US and Canada, and potentially from US to Europe during promotions.
3) Virgin America Elevate program: 25,000 points (instant transfer) The ratio is 2:1, and the point is worth about 2.1 cents in airfare on Virgin America flights.
This is normally not a good deal due to a poor transfer ratio. However, Amex runs transfer bonuses regularly, most likely to make up for it. Read more on this program HERE
Assuming there is a bonus, it could be worth it to redeem for Virgin America flights. You may do well on redemptions for Virgin Atlantic, especially for summer travel. Generally, it’s only worthwhile to redeem for outbound flights to London, since taxes are relatively low.
An example: one-way flight from Orlando-London is 12,000 points in economy (24,000 Membership Rewards) and $135 in taxes. One-way flight from New York to London is 10,000 points. You get a discount on roundtrip redemptions, but taxes kill the deal IMO. 50,000 Membership Rewards points would take care of 2 one-way tickets without the transfer bonus.
Keep in mind, you can just just redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying club miles (also a Membership Rewards partner), since that program does allow one-way redemptions on their own flights. However, it seems like Amex runs transfer bonuses on Virgin America more often than on Virgin Atlantic.
Interestingly, this program is also a decent deal for inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines. It costs 6,000 points (12,000 Membership Rewards) for a roundtrip flight, as through Hawaiian program the same flight runs at 15,000 miles. Not a spectacular deal, but could be useful during a bonus transfer promotion.
So, those are 3 more partner airlines, and it rounds off my list to 8 worthwhile options for a middle-class family. There is a misconception out there that Membership Rewards program is mostly for affluent business types. That’s not really the case! There is no question that it’s an incredibly versatile and potentially lucrative program for a regular family, in many cases surpassing Chase Ultimate Rewards.
I’ve said before that I value Membership Rewards point at 1.1 cents. However, keep in mind, that’s because I currently have a healthy supply of miles and points. If I didn’t, my value would be at least 1.25 cents, on par with Ultimate Rewards.
My advice is to not get intimidated by the fact that a lot of the options are foreign airlines with potential quirks. Most of the time they have English-speaking agents, and occasionally, you can even book online.
If the transfer for that particular partner is instant, you can just call the airline, get the agent to verify availability, and convert your Membership Rewards points on the spot. The savings certainly make up for any inconvenience. So, use miles and points to your advantage, any kind of miles!
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