Thought you were short on miles and points for your next trip? Think again. Many airlines and hotels offer discounted redemptions at different times of the year or even shave down the cost for members that hold certain types of credit cards. Could you be one of the lucky ones? Read more to find out!
American off-peak awards
American Airlines puts many of its economy class award redemptions on sale for travel during off-peak times of year when demand slows. This doesn’t mean it is not a good time to visit; it just means it isn’t prime time. Hawaii drops from 45,000 to 40,000 miles roundtrip between mid-January and early March and between mid-August and mid-December. Northern South America (including Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru) drops in price from 40,000 to 35,000 miles roundtrip from mid-January and mid-June and between mid-August and the end of November. Discounts to Europe go from 60,000 to 45,000 miles between mid-January to mid-March. Northern Asia (including Japan and South Korea) price out 65,000 miles (down from 70,000 miles) roundtrip between January and April and between July and November. No special codes needed. If off-peak, saver award availability is there, it automatically prices out at the lower rates on aa.com. The dates may change slightly each year so be sure to check online.
American mileage discounts for Citi AAdvantage cardholders
If you have an American Airlines co-branded credit card from Citi, you may be eligible for a discount on your next award redemption. One of the perks of the card shaves off miles for award redemptions, but the amount depends upon the type of card you have. Cards like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® or Platinum Select-branded Visa, MasterCard, or American Express options each come with a 7,500 mile discount for roundtrip travel on flights over 500 miles or 2,000 mile discount for flights under 500 miles. Citi AAdvantage Gold cards or the AAdvantage Aviator Blue MasterCard come with a 5,000 mile discount on roundtrip flight more than 500 miles or a 1,000 mile discount on roundtrip flights under 500 miles.
Short flight discounts
Mileage programs have certainly become greedier over the years, raising rates for free flights. But, one area that has benefited travelers is the redemption for short-haul flights. American sells award flights for 7,500 miles if the travel distance is less than 650 miles. United puts its awards on sale for 10,000 miles if the distance is less than 700 miles. Both would normally charge 12,500 miles for a one-way saver ticket. Delta is not as generous. It puts flights on sale for as low as 5,000 miles, but it does not do it with any regularity making it quite hard to plan. There is no mileage distance that is traditionally discounted, but if you’re willing to take your chances (like many things with the SkyMiles program), Delta.com might price out a one-way award ticket for less than the standard 12,500 miles.
Alaska Airlines puts some of its one-way awards on sale for 5,000 miles on occasion like its bigger competitors. But for those traveling wholly within Alaska, it always sells award tickets for 15,000 roundtrip (instead of the standard domestic saver price of 25,000 miles). The same goes for redeeming American miles on Oneworld partner airlines when travel remains wholly within certain countries. For example, domestic flights wholly within Argentina, Australia, Brazil, mainland Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Fiji, Finland, Germany, India, Japan, Jordan, Peru, Russia, Spain, and United Kingdom price out at a discounted mileage amount from what other awards within those regions would typically cost. The same goes for flights on American’s partner Hawaiian Airlines. Inter-island award redemption price out cheaper than typical domestic award tickets.
Flying Blue Promo Awards
The loyalty program of Air France and KLM puts flights on sale for award redemptions each quarter, and it releases a list of specific routes and cabins of service in advance. Before you bemoan the fact that you don’t collect Flying Blue miles, it can pay off to sign up for a free account since the program is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards points. Discounts on offer this season include 25% off business class flights between Boston and Europe; 20% off economy class redemptions within Europe to cities like Luxembourg, Milan, and Prague; and 25% off business class redemptions between Europe and cities in China including Beijing, Chengdu, and Xiamen.
IHG Point Breaks
Intercontinental Hotels Group puts on a quarterly sale that is one of the best bargains in the market. It makes hotel redemptions around the globe available for only 5,000 points each. Of course, you’re not going to find the most popular hotels in the most popular cities at these rates. But, there are some fantastic bargains out there. The hotel group publishes a list each quarter of the best hotel redemption bargains. This quarter, the list includes hotels everywhere from Alabama to Zimbabwe.
Marriott Point Savers
There is no way to plan in advance for these discounts, but occasionally Marriott will discount some of its standard redemption nights by a few thousand points. If they are available, Marriott will automatically give the discount online.
Starwood Preferred Guest weekend discounts
On weekend nights, Starwood discounts its category 1 and 2 properties by 1,000 points. For example, the Westin Atlanta Airport goes from 4,000 points to 3,000 points on Friday or Saturday nights. There are no special codes needed. If you make a reservation through a Starwood channel, the points discount is automatically applied on eligible nights.