How to Use the Points or Cash Calculator
- Select your rewards program from the drop-down menu.
- Enter the amount you’d need to spend with just cash for your purchase.
- Then enter the amount you’d spend with just points to make that same purchase.
- Enter any cash fees or taxes, if applicable. (If none, enter a 0 in that field.)
- Tap the “calculate” button to see if you should pay with points or cash based on current values.
When to Use Points and Miles vs. Cash
A few factors may impact your decision to pay with points or cash when booking travel. Here are a few things to consider when making your choice:
- Value: The most straightforward element to consider is the simple value of your miles and points versus cash, and the calculator above can help you figure out these numbers. If snagging the best possible deal is your number one factor, these calculations are the place to start.
- Availability: Your itinerary could influence whether you choose points or cash when booking travel since there can sometimes be restrictions with points you won’t face with cash. But if you have some flexibility in your trip plans, booking with points could pay off. Plus, you may find last-minute or off-peak deals that help you save even more.
- Cash and points balances: If you don’t have a huge travel budget, you may prefer to use points even if it would be cheaper to use cash, especially if you have a lot saved up. In other cases, cash might make sense if the value of your points doesn’t stretch as far as you want when you need to book your ticket.
- Points expiration: If your points or miles are about to expire, it might be best to use them now, regardless of whether it’s cheaper to pay with cash. If your points expire and you lose them, they’ll be worthless, so you might as well take advantage of your rewards while you can.
- Premium travel: In many cases, you can eke out the most value from your points by booking luxury travel like first-class airfare or stays at high-end resorts. The right loyalty program may offer higher redemption rates and other discounts that beat cash value, so consider the type of trip you’re planning and what sort of experiences you’re planning to book.
Finding the Right Rewards Credit Card
Looking for a rewards credit card to fit your lifestyle? We suggest taking a look at our roundup of the best rewards credit cards. From there, you can compare the best rewards credit cards and view detailed reviews, check out pros and cons and see any special offers.