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The average number of points you need for a free flight depends on the airline you choose to fly with, your destination, and when you decide to travel. Keep in mind there are no completely free flights, even if you use your points. You’ll still have to shell out the cost of taxes and any applicable fees imposed by the carrier.
Here’s what you need in regards to points for free flights, based on some of the biggest U.S.-based airlines.
Points for Free Flights with American Airlines
American has AAnytime awards for seats on an American Airlines or American Eagle flight. Flights can cost around 20,000 miles each way, plus any applicable taxes and carrier-imposed fees.
They also have MileSAAver awards that are available for 7,500 miles each way (plus taxes and fees). There aren’t any blackout dates, so the availability of these types of fares may be more difficult to book.
Points for Free Flights with United Airlines
Similar to American Airlines, United has their Saver Award, which can be used for flying anywhere on United, United Express, and MileagePlus airline partners. One-way domestic flights cost anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 points.
Here’s a screen grab from United’s site, based on flights within the U.S. and Canada:
Saver Awards may require less points than their Everyday Awards. But again, it might be harder to find flights due to high demand. There are typically more seats available using Everyday Awards.
Points for Free Flights with Southwest Airlines
Reward pricing on Southwest Airlines depends on destination, time, date of travel, and other factors. One of the easiest ways to earn rewards with Southwest is to take advantage of their bonus offers that come with their credit cards.
The easiest way to see how much fares cost is to go to their site and put in your flight information. At the top of the page, you can choose the “points” view.
The following screen grab will give you an idea of how much it costs for a coast to coast flight (LAX to NYC). It looks like points vary anywhere from 16,000 to 49,000 and higher.
Points for Free Flights with JetBlue
Redeeming points for a free flight on JetBlue requires a minimum of 3,500 points.
JetBlue has a deals section — and one-way flights start at 7,600 points, plus taxes and fees. For domestic award flights, taxes/fees is $5.60 for one-way and $11.20 for round-trip flights. For international award flights, taxes/fees range from $5.60-$161.50 for one-way and $27.60-$171.60 for round-trip flights.
To find out exactly how many points you need for a particular flight, you need to visit JetBlue’s website and filter with the “points view.”
Points for Free Flights with Alaska Airlines
Flights that can be redeemed with points range from 5,000 miles to 70,000, depending on long far you fly and what class ticket you book.
Alaska Airlines offers Money & Miles awards, in which you can get up to 50 percent off on most coach and first class tickets. The maximum discount is $100 off of a base fare ticket for 10,000 miles or $200 of the base fare for 20,000 miles. The can still earn all of the miles flown when you choose this award.
Points for Free Flights with Air Canada
Air Canada uses their Aeroplan program, and flights redeemed with points start at 15,000 points and go all the way to 260,000.
Air Canada takes advantage of their robust airline partnerships, which means you can easily fly to 1,300 destinations worldwide using the Star Alliance member airlines.
See their helpful chart of how many points you need to redeem a free flight.
Bottom Line When Looking at Points for Free Flights
The best way to earn points is to sign up for a travel credit card or airline-branded credit card. They offer simple ways to earn extra points.
The best of the best include the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card from American Express, and more.
See our complete list of the best travel cards and use the one that is right for you.
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