Points vs. miles: Which is better? A quick look at both and why you might prefer one over the other.

The “points or miles calculator” is a tool that allows users to compare the cost of using points versus miles. The tool also has a list of the best credit cards for each type of reward.

Points vs. miles: Which is actually better?

To promote spending, reward credit card issuers provide points or miles. You may also get incentives as a result of your spending. However, there are several distinctions in the Miles vs. Points comparison that you should be aware of. The miles you earn, for example, are frequently accumulated in a connected frequent flyer program.

The value of points and miles is frequently determined by how and when they are redeemed. Travel dates, fare class, and destination all affect mileage redemptions. Some credit cards allow you to convert points to miles by transferring them to airline reward programs, which may occasionally provide a better return. The quantity of miles you receive for your points in this scenario is determined by your credit card company and the airline partner in question.

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Takeaways

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  • Co-branded airline and hotel credit cards have miles and points that are tied to certain loyalty schemes.
  • Non-co-branded cards provide you more options when it comes to redeeming your points or miles.
  • The worth of airline miles and hotel points varies depending on how and when they are redeemed.

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Is there a difference between points and miles?

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While both points and miles allow you to earn rewards based on your credit card purchases, they have significant variations. Although this is not always the case, credit card miles are usually tied to an airline’s reward program. Credit card points, on the other hand, may or may not be tied to a loyalty program with an airline or hotel. Flexible point reward cards often provide additional redemption choices for the points/miles you earn.

If you receive an American Express Card that accumulates Membership Rewards points, you may use them to pay card charges, make online purchases via various partner merchants, book trips, and a variety of other things. This is also true if you get a card that participates in the Chase Ultimate Rewards program. Both systems, by the way, allow you to transfer your points to other travel partners.

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Miles vs. Points

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On qualified transactions, all of the cards in this category allow you to earn points or miles. Using your card to buy flight tickets directly via the affiliated airline or your card issuer’s online rewards program is often the best method to earn airline miles. Other bonus categories may also have greater reward rates with these cards. The quantity of points you may get is determined on the card you receive. While you may get a flat reward rate on all purchases, category-based purchasing may earn you a greater reward rate.

Some credit cards provide points that are more comparable to miles. Because the Rapid Rewards program employs points rather than miles, this is the situation with all Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards from Chase. Some credit cards, on the other hand, provide miles that are more similar to points. Capital One’s Venture Rewards Card and VentureOne Rewards Card are two examples.

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Different Types of Travel Rewards & Their Pros or Cons

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Different features and incentives are available with travel rewards credit cards. A co-branded card is one that is tied to a certain airline or a group of hotels.

Alternatively, you might choose a flexible points card that allows you to redeem your earnings more freely.

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1. Airline Points & Miles

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Cards that provide airline miles or points might help you save money on your trip tickets. Furthermore, when you use a card like this to purchase tickets directly with the airline or via your card issuer’s rewards website, you normally earn miles quicker. Several miles-earning credit cards also come with a slew of airline and airport perks.

Examples:

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Pros

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  • Spend-based welcome incentives you the opportunity to earn additional miles.
  • When you buy airplane tickets, you make more money.
  • Miles may be used for free airplane tickets.
  • Possibility of receiving complimentary companion tickets
  • Upgrades to the status of loyalty programs
  • Discounts on in-flight purchases, priority boarding, free checked luggage, and access to airport lounges are just some of the benefits.

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Cons

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  • The majority of these cards include an annual charge.
  • Limit yourself to one airline at a time.
  • The value of points might change depending on a variety of things.
  • Normally, miles cannot be transferred to other loyalty schemes.
  • Because to inactivity on your account, your miles may expire.

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2. Reward Points at the Hotel

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Cards that give hotel rewards points are associated with certain hotel chains. When you use your card to make purchases at properties in the group’s portfolio, you usually get a better reward rate. It’s typically simple to exchange your points for free nights. A handful of these cards also come with hotel-specific advantages.

Examples:

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Pros

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  • For new cards, bonus points are offered via spend-based incentives.
  • Spending at properties inside the group earns you more points.
  • Points may be redeemed for free nights.
  • After each account anniversary, certain cards provide complimentary free nights.
  • Upgrades to the status of loyalty programs
  • Early check-in, late check-out, free Wi-Fi, and complementary breakfast are all possible advantages.

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Cons

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  • It’s possible that you’ll have to pay an annual charge.
  • It’s possible that point redemption will be limited to the hotels in question.
  • When it comes to transferring points to airlines, the odds are typically against you.
  • If you don’t utilize your account sufficiently, your points may expire.

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3. Miles and Points in General

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Flexible credit cards that provide points or miles allow you to spend your rewards in a variety of ways. Depending on the card you choose, you may be eligible for high bonus reward rates in certain areas. Several of these cards have no yearly fees.

Examples:

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Pros

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  • You’ll have more options when it comes to redeeming your points or miles.
  • Several no-annual-fee choices are available.
  • It’s possible that you’ll be able to transfer your points or miles to other airline or hotel reward schemes.
  • Travel rewards might include a status upgrade in your loyalty club, access to an airport lounge, priority boarding, and travel insurance coverage.

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Cons

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  • There are no special airline or hotel benefits.
  • Spending will not help you achieve elite status.
  • Premium cards may have high yearly fees.

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Is it true that miles are more valuable than points?

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The monetary value of general travel points is normally predetermined. The value of hotel points and airline miles, on the other hand, is determined by a reward-to-dollar ratio. For example, the value of airline miles varies depending on when you intend to fly, the route, and the class. Their worth is also determined by the loyalty program.

If you are flexible with your trip arrangements, you may improve the value of your hotel points or airline miles. For example, your miles/points may be worth more for a midweek reservation than for a weekend reservation. Additionally, when booking overseas flights, you may be able to receive a higher value for your miles.

Expert Tip: Apply for a flexible points card that transfers to your airline or hotel loyalty program to boost the benefits from your airline or hotel credit card. This provides you the best of both worlds: airline or hotel-specific bonuses from their co-branded card, as well as more earning potential and flexibility from the general travel card. — Credit card expert Lee Huffman of BaldThoughts.com

What is the difference between miles and cash back? 

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How Do Miles Convert to Points?

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Unlike airline miles earned via credit cards, the value of general travel points/miles typically stays constant. When purchasing travel, one point or mile is usually worth one penny. For example, if you have 25,000 miles on your Capital One Venture Card, you may redeem them for $250 in travel rewards.

When booking travel with your points via Chase Ultimate Rewards, however, a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred gives a 25% bonus. 25,000 points are now worth $312.50. This structure shows you just how much your points/miles are worth. However, unlike airline miles, it does not allow you to optimize the value of your points.

Transferring your general points/miles to airline or hotel loyalty programs for aspirational travel in luxury hotels or premium cabin foreign flights is the greatest approach to maximize the value of your points/miles. Depending on the card you have, you may transfer your points to one of Chase’s airline partners at a 1:1 ratio. Most, but not all, American Express and Capital One transfer partners are 1:1. So, before you start a transfer, double-check the transfer percentages to avoid being disappointed. You will not be able to reverse a transfer after it has been begun.

Also keep in mind that the value of your airline miles/points may vary greatly depending on a number of variables, including the loyalty program, redemption method, and when you book your vacation or redeem your miles/points. In general, each point or mile is valued anything from 0.3 cents to slightly more than two cents per dollar, with the bulk falling between between one and two cents.

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How can you figure out how much airline miles are worth?

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Subtract the taxes you paid from the ticket’s face value. Then divide this figure by the number of miles necessary to buy an airline ticket. So, if a one-way ticket costs $130 and costs 12,000 miles plus $5.60 in taxes, here’s how you figure out the value. To get a value of 1.04 cents, subtract $5.60 from the $130 cash price to get $124.40, then divide by 12,000 to get 1.04 cents. This would be considered a bad redemption value by most airlines.

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How can you figure out how much hotel points are worth?

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Divide the number of points required to make a hotel reservation by the total cost of the reservation. For instance, if you require 25,000 points to book a $240 stay, each point is worth 240/25,000, or 0.96 cents. This might be a very excellent value redemption depending on the hotel brand.

Expert Tip: Consider annual fees, introductory offers, reward rates, and travel-specific bonuses when comparing travel credit cards. We combed through over 2,000 consumer and business cards to help you make an informed decision.

Should you obtain a cash-back or points-earning credit card? 

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When deciding between a points or miles card, ask yourself these questions.

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Card with Miles/Points (Airline or Hotel)

  • Do you like to travel with a certain airline or hotel chain?
  • Are you okay with your awards being redeemed?
  • through a certain airline or hotel chain?
  • Do you want to make as much money as possible?
  • Are you willing to change your trip plans?

Regular Miles/Points Card

  • Do you want to be able to fly with whatever airline or hotel group you wish?
  • Do you want to be able to use your rewards in a variety of ways?
  • Do you want your points/miles to be transferable to airline/hotel loyalty programs?

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When Does Getting Both Make Sense?

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Getting branded and generic travel cards may be beneficial to frequent travelers. You may earn points or miles quicker with branded credit cards, and you can optimize your reward potential by redeeming them for free flights or hotel stays.

A standard travel card with points/miles, on the other hand, provides you additional options, which might be useful if you want to use them for non-travel incentives like statement credits or gift cards. Furthermore, if the necessity arises, you may consider moving your points/miles from a non-co-branded card to an airline or hotel reward program.

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Other Concerns You Might Have Regarding Travel Cards

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Answering additional frequently asked questions regarding the credit card miles vs. points comparison can give you a better idea of which will work best for you.

  • When is it better to use Miles vs. Points? Getting a non-co-branded card with points might work better for you than a card with miles if you don’t favor using any particular airline.
  • When should you utilize miles instead of points? If you are a regular flier and devoted to a certain airline, miles may be a better option. Similarly, if you want to stay at a certain chain of hotels, a card with hotel points may be beneficial. If none of these options apply to you, you may want to explore a non-co-branded card with miles or points.
  • What’s the difference between a credit card with miles and one with cash back? The amount of cash back you get is converted into a dollar figure. If you use a 2% cash back card, for example, you’ll earn $2 back on every $100 you spend. The worth of miles, on the other hand, is determined by a variety of variables. Another key distinction between cash back and miles is that the former is often easier to redeem.
  • Is it possible to utilize credit card points in the same way that cash back is used? The way you spend your credit card points is determined on the card you have. If you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card, for example, you may redeem your points for cash or earn a statement credit for one or more qualified transactions. Getting gift cards, paying for Apple purchases, paying for Amazon.com purchases, checking out with PayPal, paying for travel, and transferring your points to airline/hotel partners are all choices. The value of points and cash back, however, may not be the same.
  • Can credit card points be transferred to hotel and airline loyalty programs? You may be able to transfer credit card points/miles to partner loyalty programs if you hold a general travel credit card. Asia Miles, British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Virgin Flying Club, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy are some of the American Express Membership Rewards partners. Aer Lingus, British Airways Executive Club, Emirates Skywards, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United Airlines MileagePlus, Virgin Flying Club, IHG Rewards, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy are some of the travel partners linked with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.

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Questions to Ponder When Examining Specific Cards

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  • What is the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, and how does it work? When you use a Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card to make travel purchases via the Chase Ultimate Rewards network, you may earn points quicker. It’s possible to transfer your points to partner travel reward programs. You may use your points for a variety of things, including cash back, bill credit, and online purchases at approved retailers. The Sapphire Preferred Card and the Sapphire Reserve Card are two cards that are tied to the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
  • What are Citi ThankYou points, and how can I get them? When you make purchases with cards connected to the Citi ThankYou rewards program, you earn Citi ThankYou points. The Citi Rewards+ Credit Card, which has no annual charge, and the Citi Premier Credit Card are two examples of these cards. On bonus categories, both cards provide larger reward rates. Statement credits, direct payments, gift cards, travel incentives, and online shopping via partner merchants are all alternatives for redeeming Citi ThankYou points. Citi also allows you to transfer your points to loyalty programs operated by other companies.
  • What is the Membership Rewards Program from American Express? You may earn points with the American Express Membership Rewards Program on all qualified transactions. On category-based spending, several of the cards connected to this program give greater reward rates. You may use your points to reimburse current expenditures on your card, obtain gift cards, pay for vacation, buy online, or make charity contributions.

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Steps to Follow

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Now that you know where the Miles vs. Points comparison stands from your perspective, determine if you might benefit by getting a card with miles or points or getting both. Once you narrow your list down to a few options, compare them across parameters such as annual fees, reward rates, welcome offers, redemption options and added benefits.

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AlertMe

Points and miles are both forms of currency. Points are used for flights, hotels, and other travel-related purchases whereas miles can be redeemed for cash back or airline tickets. The “points vs cash back amex” is a question that has been asked many times before.

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