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The Best Ways to Fly Economy Using Points and Miles

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Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

Attention Thrifty Traveler Premium members:

You’ve likely already received these deals. If not, log into your Premium deals hub to see every recent alert we've sent.

If you think you don't have enough credit card points or airline miles to book your next vacation, think again.

While many travelers like to hoard points and miles in an effort to save up for business or first-class seats, with just a few points and miles, you could book some really great economy award fares to fly to some of our favorite destinations around the world. You can stretch your points further than you think if you're willing to fly economy.

Whether it's a roundtrip flight to Chicago for 4,000 miles or a 70,000-mile roundtrip flight to Australia, there is no shortage of ways to squeeze every possible cent out of the points and miles you do have when you fly economy.


japan airlines economy


And you can have all sorts of points and miles to take advantage of these deals. Below, we'll show you examples of flights bookable with Delta SkyMiles, American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Bilt Rewards points, AAdvantage Miles, United MileagePlus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, and Virgin Atlantic miles.

But maybe the best thing about booking economy award tickets is that award availability – flights you can actually book with points and miles is simply much easier to find for economy than business and first class flights. That's especially true if you are looking to travel with two or more people.

Interested in Flying Up Front? Check out the Best Business Class Award Deals We've Found This Year

The only thing in common with all of these deals is that they were sent to our Thrifty Traveler Premium subscribers. Premium members get every points and miles deal we send from their home airports, with an option to also get every premium cabin deal we send – regardless of which airport it departs out of.


Delta SkyMiles Economy Flash Sales

When it comes to flying economy, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better value than Delta SkyMiles. Delta's points currency tends to fall short (waaaay short) on premium cabin bookings, but its economy award fares can be the most competitive in the business.

That's because Delta doesn't publish an award chart and employs a dynamic pricing model for SkyMiles. That leads to four of our favorite words: Delta SkyMiles Flash Sales.

When Delta puts its economy award fares on sale, you get this:


Europe SkyMiles


This deal is long gone. Join Thrifty Traveler Premium so you don't miss the next one!

If you have 40,000 Delta SkyMiles in your account (or Amex points that you can transfer to Delta), you have a roundtrip flight to Europe!


Europe SkyMiles deal


Plus, when Delta runs flash sales like these, it's not uncommon to see hundreds of U.S. airports included.

Crossing the Atlantic will only cost you 40,000 SkyMiles, but you can also cross the Pacific for a little bit more.


Sydney, Australia


This latest Delta SkyMiles deal to Sydney, Australia (SYD) included dozens of U.S. airports all under 78,000 SkyMiles roundtrip flying down under. If you're calculating the value of your SkyMiles on a miles-flown per SkyMile-spent ratio, this is about as good as it gets!


Sydney, Australia


While a little closer to home, Tahiti, French Polynesia (PPT) is still a good long-haul from the U.S. But Delta loyalists can fly their favorite airline there nonstop from Los Angeles (LAX) every day during the winter season. Those flights are rarely full, so Delta runs some sweet promos to get you to pick up those tickets using your SkyMiles.


Tahiti Delta SkyMiles deal


Perhaps my favorite way to redeem Delta SkyMiles, however, is on short-haul flights. Using your miles for shorter flights within the United States, Mexico, and the Caribbean can net you huge savings on tickets that can otherwise get pricey. Maybe you want to fly down to Jamaica and only have 20,000ish SkyMiles in your account…


Montego Bay, Jamaica flight deal


You're golden! You don't need very many SkyMiles to book a memorable trip. And you don't even need a passport to book sizzling SkyMiles deals like this one.


Miami SkyMiles


Delta SkyMiles deals to Florida – especially Miami and Orlando – are not hard to find if you know where to look. Aim your search to fly on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays, and you'll be shocked to see how few SkyMiles you'll need to take the family to Disney or to have a romantic weekend away in South Beach.


MIA SkyMiles flight deal


Plus, thanks to the TakeOff 15 benefit, Delta SkyMiles cardholders get an additional 15% off any SkyMiles award booking – as long as it's on a Delta-operated flight.


American Airlines AAdvantage Miles Sales

Delta SkyMiles flash sales used to be the gold standard in economy points and miles deals, but American Airlines may now have the upper hand.

Why? Because for similar rates, you can fly American Airlines using your AA miles in Main Cabin – meaning your fare is changeable and you can select your seat.


AA to Europe flight deal


Let's say you wanted to fly to Europe this year. For just 38,000 AA miles roundtrip, you could book a changeable fare with seat selection to almost every city American serves across the pond.


AA to Europe flight deal


American runs sales like this a few times a year, so make sure you're ready to go with the points in your account to snag the next great one.

AA miles are also the most valuable points you can earn to fly to the Caribbean. Take this Dominican Republic example. Just 16,000 miles roundtrip will get you from almost any American Airlines city to Punta Cana (PUJ) for the price of a ticket to Chicago!


Dominican Republic AA miles


American also structures their sales uniformly, meaning almost every city pays the same rate. So whether you're based in Miami (MIA) or all the way out in Los Angeles (LAX), your Punta Cana fare is still just 16,000 roundtrip!


American Airlines miles to the Domincan Republic


And yes, your AA miles can take you across the Pacific, too. This Tokyo, Japan sale was especially memorable because it included availability during Cherry Blossom season.


AA Miles to Japan


Same thing here: These are all flexible, Main Cabin fares with seat selection and a checked bag included. That's a stress-free booking of a bucket list flight. What could be better?


AA miles to Tokyo


Your AA miles can take you around the world and back again with far more flexibility than its competitors.


Southwest, United, and More: Economy Deals With All Kinds of Points and Miles

Not to be outdone, airlines worldwide occasionally like to swing for the fences with some lovely little economy award sales of their own.

This one was especially memorable for our Thrifty Traveler Premium members.


Chicago Rapid Rewards


That's right, just 4,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points could get you a roundtrip flight to Chicago (MDW)! You might have 4,000 Rapid Rewards in your account and not even know it.


Rapid Rewards Chicago


See the other best Southwest Rapid Rewards deals we've sent lately! 

Southwest points are sneakily one of the most valuable points currencies out there. So long as you don't want to cross an entire ocean, Southwest can get you there for a tremendous value. Mexico, anyone?


Mexico Rapid Rewards


This roundup of sub-9,000 Rapid Rewards fares to Mexico was one of our favorite deals of the year. The possibilities for travelers with families are endless on this one. You could fly from Chicago (ORD or MDW) to Cancún (CUN) with a family of six for 36,000 Rapid Rewards points!


Rapid Rewards points


Don't have Rapid Rewards points? You still might if you Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the *chase sapphire preferred*. Chase points transfer 1:1 to Southwest instantly, so you also could snag the next great deal using those points.

Chase points also transfer to United Airlines, which has a tougher-to-use, but still occasionally fruitful miles program. United MileagePlus miles can get you to Europe and back, too.


United Miles to Amsterdam


It's not quite the 38,000-mile Main Cabin redemption that American offers, but if you have a stash of United miles (or Chase or Bilt points), 50,000 miles roundtrip to Amsterdam (AMS) is a great use of points.


Amsterdam United


These next few deals might appear to be head-scratchers for some travelers. You might say, “Hey, I'm not collecting Virgin Atlantic points or Turkish miles. Why would I want a deal bookable with those currencies?”

The answer to that question is flexible points currencies. If you earn American Express Membership Rewards, Capital One Venture Miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, or Bilt Rewards, you can transfer them to many airline programs to take advantage of these deals.

See our master list of credit card transfer partners! 

So, let's say you have a measly 14,000 points in your Capital One account. What could you possibly do with those?

Fly to Mexico and back, that's what!


Mexico Virgin points


Aeromexico is a SkyTeam airline alliance partner with Virgin Atlantic, meaning you can book Aeromexico's nonstop routes to Mexico from the U.S. starting at just 14,000 Virgin points roundtrip!

In fact, Chase, Capital One, Amex, Citi, and Bilt are all Virgin transfer partners, so you could transfer points from any of those banks (or multiple) to piece together enough points to book one of these flights.


Mexico flight deal


Turkish Airlines also has a nice set of transfer partners that could help you book roundtrip, nonstop flights to Istanbul (IST) this year!


Turkish airlines


Turkish Airlines often runs lucrative promos that can help stretch your miles further. This deal above was one such promos that offered economy roundtrip flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Istanbul (IST) for just 30,000 points. And then a few months later they did the same thing for roundtrip flights from Chicago (ORD)!


Turkish Airlines ORD


This was another boon for our subscribers with Capital One, Citi, or Bilt points, all of which transfer to Turkish.


Bottom Line

Whether you're looking for a weekend in Miami or a bucket list excursion to Tahiti, the right economy trip booked with points and miles shouldn't break the bank.

While we love booking business and first-class award tickets, there's some enormous value in booking economy fares using your hard-earned points and miles, too. You just have to know where to look!

Our Thrifty Traveler Premium members know all about it and have been given the first crack at finding these sizzling award deals for travel in 2024.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

1 Responses

  • This is mazing!!! Just started with the points game couple months ago and already have 2 trips lined up for my family!! Love it!!!
    Thanks guys!


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