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Earning points and miles has become more difficult over the last decade. There are more travel credit cards than ever and many offer massive welcome bonuses. However, some banks have implemented rules restricting the number of credit cards you can get approved for, so you'll want to be sure you can stretch a bonus as far as possible. 

You can do this by being savvy with how you redeem points and researching ways to book travel for less. Not all loyalty programs are the same and with a little research and flexibility, you can get further with fewer miles. Here are some ways to stretch your points and miles further for travel redemptions.

Shop Around

ANA All Nippon Airlines

As with any purchase, you can save a lot of points by shopping around. Not all airlines require the same number of miles for a flight. By having miles with multiple programs, you have more options. Meanwhile, hotel loyalty programs have a vast range of redemption rates in the same city (and even the same neighborhood). This is where a well-diversified points portfolio comes into play. It provides options so you can book the cheapest possible.

By shopping around, you might find cheaper flights and hotels than if you stick to one program. For example, United MileagePlus® often charges around 120,000 miles one-way for a business class ticket to many cities in Europe. Meanwhile, fellow Star Alliance member All Nippon Airways (ANA) may charge just 88,000 miles round-trip to European destinations. By shopping around, you can save thousands of points and stretch your existing stash further.

Recommended Travel Credit Cards

Credit Card Intro Bonus Annual Fee Rewards Rate Learn More

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

60,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Dollar Equivalent: $1,380 (60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

$95 1x- 5xPoints More Info

Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

$69 1x - 2xPoints More Info

Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partners. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.

Citi Custom Cash® Card

$200Cash Bonus More Info

Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

$0 1% - 5%Cashback More Info

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

70,000Citi ThankYou® Points More Info

Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at Dollar Equivalent: $1,260 (70,000 Citi ThankYou® Points * 0.018 base)

$95 1X-10XPoints More Info

10x on Hotels, Car Rentals, and Attractions booked through 3x -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on Air Travel and Other Hotel Purchases 3x -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on Restaurants 3x -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on Supermarkets 3x -- Earn 3 Points per $1 spent on Gas and EV Charging Stations 1x -- Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on All Other Purchases

Book Longer Hotel Stays

dining at IHG resort
IHG Hotels & Resorts

Several loyalty programs offer significant discounts when you book hotel stays of three nights or longer. Booking longer stays can help you stretch your points further and generate more value out of your stay. For example, Hilton Honors® and Marriott Bonvoy® members get their fifth night free on award stays. So if you're booking a four-night stay, why not add an extra night for free? The same goes for select IHG® One Rewards credit card holders, who get their fourth night free on award stays. 

Also make sure to check the offers section when booking on a hotel's website, as specials may be available when redeeming points or to earn additional points during your stay that you can apply towards a future trip.

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Off-Peak Pricing

Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana
Hyatt Ziva Cap Cana

Most loyalty programs have adopted some form of dynamic pricing, raising point rates when demand increases and dropping them when demand lowers. Some programs even publish award charts with clearly defined travel dates for peak, off-peak and standard awards. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you can save a lot of points and enjoy fewer crowds during your travels. 

Off-peak pricing varies depending on the loyalty program and destination. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage®, ANA Mileage Club and World of Hyatt® publish award charts that include peak and off-peak pricing. ANA even includes off-peak travel dates for each region. 

A great tool that many airline miles or points programs offer, including Southwest Rapid Rewards®, is the low-fare calendar for award travel, where you can view which days have the lowest required miles or points. Sometimes, the airline's online booking system will show you automatically—for example, United displays the cost for each day of the week you have chosen to travel. So, if you chose Wednesday for your flight and it is 30,000 miles one way, but you see that it is 15,000 on Tuesday, you could decide to change your travel date and save a great deal of miles.

The difference can be tremendous for a hotel stay, too. For example, a peak award at a Category A all-inclusive Hyatt property costs 18,000 points per night. That's pretty reasonable, but you can save around 33% by booking that same hotel during the off-season.

Compare Southwest Consumer Credit Cards

Credit Card Annual Fee Intro Bonus Perks Learn More

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

$69 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance
$99 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • Lost luggage reimbursement
  • Baggage delay insurance

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

$149 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

  • $75 Southwest annual travel credit
  • 25% back on inflight drinks & Wi-Fi
  • 4 upgraded boardings when available

Discounted Award Tickets

Delta plane taking off

Some airlines run award ticket sales that can help you save a lot of miles. The most prominent example is Flying Blue's Promo Rewards, which knock the price of airfare down as low as 50%. A new list of discounted routes gets released every first weekday of the month and can save you miles year-round.

American Airlines doesn't publish a list of Web Special awards, but you can stumble across one-way fares as low as 5,000 miles. Delta SkyMiles® Deals is another excellent source for discounted award tickets. Simply enter your preferred airport and you'll get a list of discounted routes. Delta SkyMiles is a 1:1 American Express Membership Rewards® transfer partner. So if you come across an excellent fare on the SkyMiles Deals page, you can transfer points instantly and redeem them quickly.

Companion Passes

family traveling on American Airlines flight watching movies
American Airlines

Traveling solo can be rewarding in many ways: You can go where you want, do what you want and redeem fewer miles. But if you decide to bring a travel companion along, nothing will stretch your miles like a companion pass. You can save as much as 100% on the cost of a companion's airfare by taking advantage of these passes.

The most famous one is the Southwest Companion Pass®, which lets you fly a designated companion free of charge (plus taxes and fees). This can be incredibly valuable if you fly to popular destinations like Hawaii and the Caribbean during peak travel season.

But Southwest isn't the only airline offering a companion pass. American Airlines and British Airways also have companion passes that you can redeem towards award flights.

American Airlines

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®, from our partner Citi, issues a companion pass every year you spend $30,000 on the card. With the AAdvantage Companion Certificate, you can book a domestic companion fare for just $99 plus taxes and fees. Taxes range from $21.60 to $43.20, depending on the route. So you won't pay more than $142.20. 

The Companion Certificate is valid on Main Cabin fares on American Airlines or American Eagle. That's not quite as limiting as you might imagine, since American operates a vast route network within the U.S. You can fly to every major city, as well as many smaller markets. 

British Airways

The great thing about the British Airways Travel Together Ticket is that you can use it for solo travel. You'll save 50% on your award ticket or you can bring a companion and only pay their taxes and fees. You can earn the Travel Together Ticket after spending $30,000 on your British Airways Visa Signature® card in a calendar year.

This companion pass is different from the others because you can use it on international travel, rather than being limited to domestic flights. 

Southwest Rapid Rewards

The Southwest Companion Pass is perhaps the most well-known companion ticket and the most coveted. You can earn the Southwest Companion Pass after completing 100 one-way flights or earning 135,000 points. The best part? Points from the Southwest credit cards count toward this requirement, including the welcome bonus. 

The Southwest cards are issued by Chase, so you'll want to read up on the 5/24 rule before applying for a card.

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Redeem Points Through Travel Portals

Sometimes, redeeming points through a travel portal is cheaper than transferring them to an airline or hotel loyalty program.

Say an award night at a Marriott Bonvoy property in Miami, Florida, goes for 56,000 points in December when booked directly. But the same hotel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel portal is 26,500 points per night or $265 (the value of one Chase point usually averages 1 cent).

Ifyou have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your points are worth 1.5 cents for travel, so you would only need roughly 17,725 points. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, points have a value of 1.25 cents each, making this stay cost 21,200 points. With either card, the highest rewards rate is earned from purchases through the travel portal.

By choosing to book through the Chase portal instead of transferring points to Marriott Bonvoy, you could save nearly 30,000 points or more.

Bottom Line

Points and miles can open up a world of travel opportunities. With the right strategy, you can see the world and make lasting memories, even on a budget. Follow these tips and you'll save your hard-earned points or miles and get to travel more, which is always the goal.

Featured photo courtesy of Dreams Punta Cana Resort & Spa


Ariana Arghandewal

Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser, an online publication dedicated to rewards travel topics. She brings over a decade of experience writing about travel, points, miles and credit cards. Her expertise includes her roles as an editor for distinguished travel and finance publications such as NerdWallet, The Points Guy and FlyerTalk. She has also authored many articles featured in major financial news & travel channels like Forbes, U.S. News Weekly, Business Insider & Fodor’s Travel.