This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Disclosure, visit this page.

Traveling miles come in various forms. They have different redemption options as they are usually tied to a particular airline or loyalty program. Each platform has different mile redemption values and booking options.

Credit: Johnny Jet

Are Points and Miles the Same Thing?

Yes. Traveling miles can also be known as travel points, airline miles, or travel rewards. They can be associated with a particular airline or credit card rewards program. The precise name varies by program, although “miles” almost always implies the most valuable redemption option is for flights.

One example is Capital One Miles, which can be redeemed for nearly any travel purchase, including flights, hotel nights, car rentals, campgrounds, and cruises.

How Traveling Miles Work

In most cases, you earn miles for each dollar spent instead of the travel distance. However, qualifying for airline elite status may have a travel distance component.

Some international airlines still use a distance-based award chart that prices their award flights by distance instead of the current ticket price if you pay with money instead. For example, flying more miles from Los Angeles to Europe can be necessary than from New York to Europe.

You may also compare travel times and earning potential using Travel Math to compare driving and flight durations.

When you have enough miles to book a trip, you can redeem them through the airline for carrier-operated flights or an alliance partner. One example is redeeming United Airlines miles for a Lufthansa flight.

If you have a travel credit card, you may be able to redeem your miles through the credit card travel portal for flights, hotels, and car rentals. Other cards may let you transfer miles to participating airlines and hotels or as a statement credit.

How Much is a Travel Mile?

A travel mile is usually worth one cent for most airline reservations and credit card booking portals. Most airlines use dynamic pricing with first class, business class, and international flights more likely to have a better redemption value from 1.3 to 3 cents per mile.

Your credit card travel miles can be worth 25% more with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Bilt World Elite Mastercard® when booking award trips through the respective travel booking site. You may prefer this option when you like booking trips from a third-party travel portal instead of directly from the airline when you’re looking for the best flight option based on your current search results.

How Much are Hotel Points Worth?

While we’re mostly focusing on airline miles, hotel points deserve a mention, too, if you stay with a particular program consistently. Several credit cards also let you convert credit card points into hotel points, which is an enticing option to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.

Unfortunately, hotel rewards points are not a good option in most situations as they are usually worth 0.5 and 0.7 cents when redeemed directly through the hotel. Each point can be worth 1 cent through credit card programs. World of Hyatt also has good redemption values.

Instead, consider credit cards with hotel anniversary nights to defray lodging costs and use traveling miles for flights. You are more likely to get a higher average redemption value with this strategy.

How Long Do Travel Miles Last?

Airline mile expiration policies differ from most domestic carriers, who no longer enforce an expiration date. U.S.-based airlines without expiration dates include Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines.

American Airlines AAdvantage miles expire after 24 months of account inactivity. One of the easiest ways to avoid expired miles is by having an American Airlines credit card, which renews your mileage balance’s expiration date after each month with a credit card purchase.

Related: How to Protect Your Miles and Points From Expiring

Is It Worth Paying for Miles?

Buying travel miles usually isn’t worth it unless you qualify for a discount or bonus miles. Typically, miles cost as much or more than the redemption value, and you may decide only to buy miles when you need to top off your account to book a trip or you need to renew your balance at the last second.

An indirect way to buy miles is to use a co-brand credit card with your favorite airline or hotel loyalty program. You earn at least one mile per $1 spent and bonus miles with select categories such as traveling with the linked airline, groceries, and restaurants.

Several cards also provide annual spending bonuses, such as bonus elite night credits after spending $5,000 or a free award night after $15,000 in annual purchases.

Another exciting offer comes with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards. Your annual card purchases also help you inch closer to the annual points requirement for the Southwest Companion Pass®. New card members can get extra credit by earning the signup bonus.

Can You Cash Out Miles?

Most travel miles don’t have a cash value, and you must redeem them for trips through the carrier or a travel partner. Some programs may let you exchange them for shopping, experiences, or charitable donations, although the redemption value is inferior.

Are Flight Miles Worth It?

Before deciding to focus on earning a particular reward currency, it’s worth asking, “Are airline miles worth it?” to avoid accumulating a stack of miles you struggle to find flights for. Frequent flyer miles can be worth earning when you have a redemption value of 1 cent or more and you travel with that carrier regularly to avoid future program devaluations or expirations.

Some travelers don’t like airline-specific flight miles due to the inflexibility when your home airport has many legacy and discount carriers to choose from. If so, a rewards credit card can offer competitive redemption values. You may be able to transfer miles to your preferred airline at a 1:1 ratio when booking directly from the carrier is better.


In conclusion, loyalty has its perks. Travel providers provide points and miles to passengers for each paid trip booking and other qualifying activities. Traveling miles are also a valuable currency that can help you get free flights or hotels. You can scoop up more with the best credit cards with the best deals that may help you book your next luxury vacation or group trip sooner.

Related Articles:

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *