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Every now and then, airlines and hotels put some of their inventory on sale either during low seasons of travel or to stimulate travel to new spots on their destination maps. These are not always broadly advertised, so it can pay off to know which companies offer these discounted awards and when they are available. United offers discounts occasionally, but here’s a roundup of some of our favorites that regularly offer these bonus redemptions.
American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards
These awards are a great perk for many of American’s co-branded credit card holders because they can shave as much as 7,500 miles off an award ticket. Unfortunately, they are not as straightforward to book as it may seem. It involves reviewing this chart to determine which award code your credit card qualifies you for. Then, call American’s special phone number to reference it for the discount as they cannot be booked online.
Another important point is that the destinations that qualify for these awards vary each month. The chart identifies when and where the discounts may apply. A check on the chart does not mean that it is available for award redemption every day, but travelers can check availability for low-level saver availability on the American website in advance if they wish. If space is available at the saver level, then the discount can be applied.
Don’t forget that American imposes a $75 fee to non-elite fliers that book award travel within 21 days of departure.
Flying Blue Promo Awards
The loyalty program of Air France and KLM regularly puts many of its flights, in economy, premium economy, and business class on sale between select destinations. These include flights between North America and Europe or within Europe. One-way domestic flights in France can be as low as 3,600 miles. Don’t forget credit card partners like American Express Membership Rewards allow you to transfer points to Flying Blue. This can represent tremendous value if you are traveling between certain destinations.
Current great bargains include 50% off business class awards between Vancouver and Europe or 50% off premium economy class awards between Europe and Dubai. These can be booked either online or via phone (it’s best to check for availability online before calling). Pay attention to the dates as there is usually a deadline for booking these awards and a specific set of dates for travel.
IHG Points Breaks
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) puts some of its hotels around the world on sale for between 5,000-15,000 points, which can be a drop in the bucket in the points and miles world. Hotels put a limited set of inventory on sale for a few months, which can go quickly. When the seasonal list is announced (there is one every quarter), it is best to jump on it.
Hotels for this quarter include the InterContinental properties in Mendoza and San Salvador, Crowne Plaza Istanbul-Harbiye, and the Holiday Inn Hamburg City Nord in Germany among dozens of others. If you are short on points, IHG allows you to buy points, often with a promotional bonus, to top off your account. You can also transfer points to IHG from various Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Delta is not known for having a particularly rewarding loyalty program when it comes to the value that can be garnered from competing programs. But it has started offering monthly flash sales with discount award tickets for a short window of time. These require booking awards quickly, and Delta provides little advance notice of these sales. Travel must be completed between a set of dates, and they are usually for economy class awards (although business class discounts can be had from time to time).
One-way tickets can be booked for as few as 5,000 miles. Delta lists numerous city pairs on its SkyMiles Deals page, but there are often many more city pairs where discounts are available. These sales usually take place toward the beginning of each month.
Marriott Rewards offers PointSavers awards at many of its hotels. Unfortunately, there is no way to view a full list of availability in advance, but it is easy to search a preferred hotel on Marriott.com or the Marriott app to check and see if a discounted rate is available. These discounted points rates chop off one-third of the Marriott Rewards requirement for a hotel. They are valid at any category of hotel as long as there is discounted room inventory.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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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.