The Best Points and Miles Programs for Last-Minute Flights


“The Best Points and Miles Programs for Last-Minute Flights” provides valuable insights into maximizing points and miles for last-minute flight bookings. Whether facing unexpected travel plans or desiring the flexibility of booking closer to departure, the article acknowledges the challenges of high flight prices and limited availability. Through the right strategy, travelers can make the most of their points and miles, potentially avoiding over-inflated prices. The article highlights the simplicity of redeeming miles from go-to airline loyalty programs for urgent needs. It also discusses the benefits of using Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points, along with the power of transferable points. The piece concludes by exploring specific programs like Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, Southwest, and JetBlue, offering insights on their advantages and transfer times. In summary, the article provides practical recommendations for travelers navigating last-minute flight bookings using points and miles.

The Best Points and Miles Programs for Last-Minute Flights

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If you are stressed, keep it simple

Booking last-minute flights can be a stressful experience, especially when faced with high prices and limited availability. In such situations, it might be best to keep things simple and use miles from your go-to airline loyalty programs, even if they don’t offer the best redemption rates. This allows you to use the miles you already have and alleviate some of the stress associated with last-minute bookings.

Another option to consider is using Capital One miles. If paid flights are affordable and you’re looking for a simple redemption, Capital One miles can be a great choice. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card allow you to redeem miles for eligible travel purchases at a fixed rate of 1 cent per mile. Simply book your flight through your airline and then request a statement credit from Capital One to offset the travel expense.

If you prefer to book a flight without transferring points, you can also consider using Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points. However, keep in mind that you would need to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal or Citi travel portal to use these currencies. This might not be appealing if you’re already stressed out and would prefer a simple booking process.

The power of transferable points

Transferable point programs offer great flexibility when it comes to redeeming rewards. By earning transferable points, you have the option to transfer your points to multiple loyalty programs and choose the one with available flights and reasonable award rates. This can be particularly helpful when booking last-minute flights, as it allows you to maximize your options.

There are six major transferable point programs that you can consider:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Bilt Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Rewards
  • Capital One Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Within these programs, you have access to over 40 different transfer partners, giving you a wide range of choices for your last-minute bookings. However, it’s important to note that each program has different transfer times for credit card points. Some transfers may be instantaneous, while others may take a few days. It’s advisable to refer to the estimated transfer times for each program to ensure that your points will be available in time for your flight.

Additionally, some airlines may impose additional fees for last-minute bookings, so it’s important to factor in these fees when considering your options.

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Air Canada Aeroplan

Air Canada Aeroplan is an excellent choice if you’re looking to redeem for a United-operated flight. Aeroplan offers good value, especially for last-minute bookings, and does not impose close-in booking fees on award tickets. Transfers from American Express, Bilt, Capital One, and Chase to Aeroplan are generally processed instantly, making it a convenient option for last-minute travelers.

British Airways Executive Club

British Airways Executive Club is a top choice for redeeming awards, thanks to its distance-based award chart. This often results in lower rates for flights operated by American and Alaska when booked through British Airways Executive Club. Point transfers from American Express, Bilt, Capital One, and Chase to British Airways are generally processed instantly, making it a viable option for last-minute redemptions.

The Best Points and Miles Programs for Last-Minute Flights

Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles is a reliable option for booking last-minute award tickets. It is easy to earn Delta miles by transferring American Express Membership Rewards points to Delta, and the transfer usually occurs instantly. This means you don’t have to worry about award availability disappearing while waiting for miles to arrive in your account. Furthermore, Delta does not impose last-minute ticketing fees, making it a cost-effective option for last-minute redemptions.

Southwest and JetBlue

Both Southwest and JetBlue do not impose close-in fees for award bookings, making them attractive options for last-minute travelers. However, it’s important to note that both airlines have redemption rates linked to ticket prices, so it’s worth comparing the cost of a paid fare with redeeming points to see which option offers the best value. Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest and JetBlue are generally processed instantly, providing added convenience for last-minute bookings.

The Best Points and Miles Programs for Last-Minute Flights

Bottom line

While booking last-minute flights can be more expensive and challenging, there are still ways to maximize your points and miles for these bookings. By keeping it simple and using miles from your go-to airline loyalty programs or utilizing transferable points, you can make the most of your rewards and potentially avoid over-inflated prices. It’s crucial to consider the specific programs and transfer times, as well as any additional fees that may be associated with last-minute bookings. With the right strategy, you can navigate the complexities of last-minute flights and make the most of your travel rewards.

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