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Frequent flyer miles are some of the most valuable travel rewards because your points can easily be worth two cents per mile. If you’re looking for the best value, you need to consider some of our suggestions for the cheapest domestic award flights. You can enjoy the benefits of both quantity and quality at the same time.
Southwest Award Flights for 5,000 Points or Less
Southwest doesn’t have a fixed award chart, so you will have to do some digging to find the best award flight prices. On some routes, you can easily find a seat for less than 5,000 points (even from Orlando to LA!) and here are a few tips:
- Award flights point requirements are based on the current ticket price
- Major hubs charge fewer points
- Shorter routes are cheaper
- Use the flexible dates calendar
- Wanna Get Away fares will always be your cheapest award option
In short, if you don’t like the current award flight price, check back later as the cash value might drop, causing the award price to drop accordingly. Or, try flying through a different airport to find a lower price.
What can make Southwest award flights extremely affordable is that you only have to pay the fees and taxes for your travel companion when you have the Southwest Companion Pass. In most cases, it’s $12 roundtrip.
Southwest is also a Chase Sapphire travel partner which makes it extremely easy to transfer your points on a 1:1 basis. You can see here how the Chase Sapphire Preferred compares to the Southwest credit cards.
JetBlue Flights from 4,000 Points
If you live on the East Coast, JetBlue can be on your radar as they serve several destinations that Southwest doesn’t. Even when there is some overlap, you can find award flights for 4,000 TrueBlue points.
For example, you can fly from New York to Orlando for 4,000 points plus $5.60 each way depending on the travel day. The same flight on one of the “Big Three” carriers will cost you 12,500 miles. How sweet is that?
Be sure to highlight the flexible travel dates to see the lowest prices available.
JetBlue is an Amex Membership Rewards travel partner if you own the Platinum Card.
American Airlines Short-Haul Flights for 7,500 Avios
When you have a flight that’s 500 miles or less within the lower 48 states, it only costs 7,500 Avios for a one-way economy flight. For domestic flights at least 501 miles, you’ll pay 12,500 Avios which is still reasonable.
You might fly American if you want to fly from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for a weekend getaway.
To secure this low rate, you will need to book the MileSAAver Ticket.
American Airlines accepts the Avios rewards currency. They are a 1:1 transfer partner for Chase and American Express when you book a partner flight with British Airways. Citi will allow you to transfer your credit card rewards on a 1:1 basis as well, and they also offer the co-branded American Airlines credit cards.
Short-Haul United Airline Flights for 10,000 Miles
If you need to fly up to 700 miles one-way, a domestic award flight only costs 10,000 miles. All flights 701 miles or longer cost 12,500 miles. When you have the option of flying United or American and are right around that 500-mile range (American’s mileage ceiling), keep United in mind.
If you own a Chase Sapphire product, you’ll be able to transfer your rewards points to either loyalty program on a 1:1 basis and will have no problem booking a flight on United or American (via British Airways). United also has several co-branded credit cards to choose from.
Alaska Air or American to Hawaii for 25,000 Avios (Round-Trip)
Hawaii is within your reach when you fly Alaska Air or American Airlines to Hawaii. The secret is that you have to book a partner flight with British Airways Avios with your Chase Ultimate Rewards or Amex Membership Rewards miles.
A round-trip economy ticket on either carrier will cost 25,000 Avios. You will probably have to call British Airways to book the award ticket by phone as award availability for Alaska Air and American don’t always show up in your British Airways Executive Club account.
These same flights when booked directly through Alaska costs 17,500 miles one-way and 20,000 miles for American one-way.
Bonus Tip: Other Cheap Award Flight to Hawaii!
As a sixth award flight tip, you can also fly Delta to Hawaii for 30,000 miles roundtrip when you book through Korean Air Skypass or Air France Flying Blue. Both of these loyalty programs are Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners.
Two other rewards programs to keep your eyes on, are flying United for 35,000 miles roundtrip when you book the flight through Singapore KrisFlyer. And, in 2018, Southwest will begin selling tickets to Hawaii as well from the U.S. west coast but prices and flight schedules still need to be announced.
How To Quickly Accumulate Frequent Flyer Miles
If you’re new to the “travel rewards” world, booking cheap domestic award flights might be your way of getting your feet wet before you book an international award flight or a first class flight that will require more miles.
Here are three excellent options to quickly earn miles to book award flights more often:
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points (Sapphire or Ink Plus)
- American Express Membership Rewards (Platinum Card)
- A co-branded airline credit card (earning and redeeming miles for only one airline)
The most valuable of these three options will most likely be the Chase Ultimate Rewards program because you can directly transfer your points to Southwest, United, British Airways Avios (American and Alaska Air partner flights), or Flying Blue and Singapore Air to book a partner flight on Delta.
The Amex Membership Rewards program is also a great option as you can transfer your points to JetBlue and several other international carriers, but you won’t be able to transfer to Southwest Airlines. Owning the Amex Platinum will also give you an annual $200 air travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, and the opportunity to earn 5x miles on airline purchases making this card the most lucrative for earning air travel rewards.
Finally, your loyalty to a specific airline can be beneficial too. Your points can only be redeemed for that airline, but you will earn frequent flyer miles on every purchase. And, you can also enjoy additional benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, elevated frequent flyer status, and anniversary point bonuses that can be the equivalent of one award flight.
The major carriers and the discount airlines all offer low-priced fares. For longer flights, be sure to check out the discount carriers first. If you own a flexible travel rewards credit card, don’t forget about transferring your points and booking a partner flight which can sell at a discount.
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.