Best Uses Of Flexible Points (USA) For Eco-tourists

I’m a big fan of flexible points because they give so many options for flights to the more remote, exotic locations eco-tourists want to visit.  Here are a few of my favourite uses.


Flex Chase UR

Mostly I transfer points to United as the award chart is still pretty good to get to Asia and Africa.  They are also useful for routes within Central & South America on Avianca & Copa.  Singapore Krisflyer can be used for the same routes as United as they are also Star Alliance but beware of surcharges on routes between Australia & Asia & Africa.  I use British Airways for shorthaul economy within South Africa and on LAN flights in South America.


Flex Citi Thankyou

I’ve been using Thank You points mostly on Flying Blue for an upcoming redemption on Kenya Airways within Africa.  They can also be used on Garuda to many birding hotspots in Indonesia.


Flex Amex MR

I had a Premier Rewards Gold a few years ago and made good use of the points with a transfer to Flying Blue for Kenya Airways redemptions.  A few stray Amex MR also went to Singapore & British Airways.  You can only get any American Express card bonus once in a lifetime so I won’t be getting this card again.  I cancelled the one I had before the annual fee was due.  Considering that other cards also transfer to most of these partners and Amex isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard, this would be a last resort card to get.  The Australian version of the Membership Rewards cards is a better option (for my Australian readers) as there aren’t as many cards to compete with it.


Flex SPG

SPG points are extremely valuable as they have so many airline partners but unfortunately their credit card is issued by American Express and it’s another one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” cards.  I’ve highlighted the partners I use them on and they were extremely useful transferred to LAN to top up the miles from the LAN Visa so we could get free tickets to the Galapagos.  When Starwood is merged into Marriott, these options are likely to go away.

Flexible Point Earning Credit Cards USA Edition And Best Uses For Eco-Travelers

This is the 3rd part in my reference guide series of USA based credit cards and the best uses for eco-travelers.  Please see my other two guides for more details.

Airline Mileage earning credit cards (and some basic info and a glossary)

Hotel Point earning credit cards


There are several options for Americans to earn flexible points that will transfer to a variety of airline and hotel programs, but the main two of interest to eco-travelers will be Chase’s Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards.  Amex also has a similar program in Australia so if you live there, please visit this post.  Of the USA based programs, I feel that Ultimate Rewards have the best options for eco-travelers so I will start there.


These come in personal version (Sapphire and Freedom) and the business versions (Ink series).  Chase cards are usually not churnable for the same product but you can get one of each card as long as you can convince Chase to give you a sufficient credit limit to qualify for the card.   The screenshots below are from Chase’s website and may not represent the best offer on the market.  You should always check the Flyertalk MileBuzz forum as new deals get posted there pretty quickly when they come out.  The Ultimate Rewards points are only transferable to airlines and hotels with the Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards.  The other cards earn you points that you can spend for travel in the Ultimate Rewards Mall.  Transfer partners are United Airlines, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, Priority Club Hotels, Marriott Hotels, Ritz Carlton Hotels and Amtrak.

Of these, the best options are United Airlines for Star Alliance Awards and British Airways for short-haul Avios awards.  More details can be found on this page as to redemption ideas.





Like Chase’s cards, Amex cards also come in personal and business versions.  They have a wide range of products and it is best to see their website for the latest offers and features of each card.  Amex’s website is very detailed and too long to screenshot the whole thing so I will provide the main details on the personal cards and direct you to their website to see Amex Business Cards.   Flyertalk has extensive information about these cards in their own forum and new deals also tend to be posted in MileBuzz so always check there before applying for a card.  Also be on the lookout for transfer bonuses such as the recent 30% bonus to British Airways Avios.

See the Membership Rewards page for a complete overview of the program and these pages for a complete list of transfer partners.  Page 1, Page 2.

The best options for eco-travelers would be Delta for use on Skyteam awards or British Airways for use on short-haul Avios.  Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic can also be useful for redeeming on Virgin Australia.  Qantas is a partner but the award cost is higher than using Delta to Australia.  Be careful when transferring to any of the European and Asian airlines as they often have huge fuel surcharges even when redeeming on partner airlines.  Singapore Airlines is good for Air New Zealand redemptions between Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Islands such as RarotongaAmex1 Amex2 Amex3 Amex4


There are some credit cards that earn points that you spend within the bank’s program on travel.  You can’t transfer them to airline miles or hotel points but you can use them to purchase travel from their affiliated travel agent.  These are not usually a great value unless there is a huge signup bonus.  If you have exhausted all the mileage earning cards and flexible point cards and are looking for somewhere to put your everyday spend, you may want to consider a 2% cash back card.  Many of these have no annual fee but there may be restrictions on how you get your cash back so be sure to read the T&Cs of the program.  Here are a few links to look at, but as always, check on FlyerTalk for any special deals that may be posted.

FlexPerks – US Bank

ThankYou Rewards – Citibank

Venture Rewards – Capital One

WorldPoints – Bank of America

Discover Card


This is just a VERY brief summary of what’s available.  Signup offers change very quickly so you always need to do your homework to make sure you get the best offer.  Take into account your ability to meet the minimum spend to get the bonus miles.  The odds are you will see some credit card offers in my advertising sidebar that will be directed to you based on your physical location.  I have no control over what ads you see.  Clicking on them helps me and the blog and a purchase or credit application is not required for me to get credit.  Please feel free to ask me any questions here in the comments of this post.



Free Points For Everyday Living – Australian Edition

Did you know that you can get free frequent flyer miles and points just for your basic every day living expenses?  Over the last couple of weeks, I wrote about credit card options for Australians so right there if you can route all your expenses for groceries, petrol, utilities via the card (and pay it in full each month) you will accumulate a LOT of points.

There are also ways to earn points that don’t require a credit card.


1.  Join Everyday Rewards.  Then swipe your card when you shop at Woolworths, Big W, Caltex Woolworths Petrol, Dick Smith and BWS you will earn points.  They sometimes email you special offers such as “Spend $25 on pet food and get 300 bonus points”.  They have more recently been giving fuel vouchers as bonuses but hopefully they will return to bonus Qantas points soon but you always earn the base points, so why not turn your groceries, petrol and other shopping into free points?

2.  Link your Optus phone and internet account and get 2 points per dollar for your normal phone and internet expenses.  You can do this whether you are new to Optus or been using them for years.  You pay the same bill you have always paid but now you are getting points for them!

3.  Use Rental Rewards to pay your rent!  In the example here, they show you how you can get 20,000 points per year!

4.  Life Insurance can earn you 10,000 points.  Check here for details.

5.  Restaurants – if you like to eat out, check here to see if your favourite restaurant will give you points with your meal!


1.  Virgin Mobile – if you switch to Virgin Mobile, you will get a bonus of 4000 points plus $3 per dollar on every monthly bill thereafter.

2.  On the same page, you will see bonuses for getting Foxtel, Quickflix, and tickets for events.

3.  Online shopping – Velocity partners with Westfield and most of us do shop at Westfields pretty often so check to see if you can get points for it.  They also have their own online shopping mall and partner with Ebay, the Iconic, Booktopia and more!

4.  Insurance and Financial – maybe not an everyday expense but if these are services you are shopping for anyway, why not get points by using the click-thru link?

5.  Wining and Dining – once again, if you like going out or joining a wine club you can get points!


I know if you are just starting out, this seems kind of daunting, but once you get started, it becomes second nature.  If I get a bonus for pet food, I stock up on bird seed.  I plan my grocery shopping for days when bonuses are on offer and fill my car with the maximum petrol voucher as those also get me points.  It all adds up-it has only taken me a year to get over 16,000 Qantas points just from groceries, petrol and Optus!  Purely free travel!


Oh and if you have a miles/points earning credit card you get to double-dip!  That means you earn the points from the card and from the retail partner.  For example, I spend $150 on groceries at Woolies.  I pay for it with my Amex.  I just got 130 Qantas points and 150 Amex Membership Rewards for stuff I had to buy anyways!


Frequent Flyer Miles Earning Credit Cards – Australian Edition 1

I am sure that many Aussies have looked with envy at the huge credit card signing bonuses available to Americans and the free trips they brag about in forums such as FlyertalkMilepoint and some blogs.  Amex Bluebird, Vanilla Reloads, Green Dots, Chase Sapphire Preferred and similar are out of  reach for most Aussies but cheer up!  While Australia doesn’t have nearly the amount of affiliate cards as the USA, there are still a few good options.  Disclaimer:  I do not have any affiliate relationships with any of these banks.  The links below take you directly to the bank’s website or the airline’s website.  I am not a qualified financial advisor and the links are only to let you know what is available.  It is up to you to analyze your own financial situation.  I personally RARELY carry a balance on my credit cards and if I do, it’s only for a month.  Interest charges can be very high, please be aware of these charges on the bank’s website.  The invitation I offer in the red text below is available to most people once they have a similar American Express card.


These come in various types with different mileage earning partners.  Click HERE and let’s compare the options, scroll through the different options and take some time to read the T&Cs of each card.   There are two types of cards that will get you miles.  Travel cards are affiliated with a particular airline such as Qantas or Virgin Australia and will automatically sweep into the airline’s program each month.  Rewards cards will earn Membership Rewards points which you can transfer manually to your choice of programs.

When you click on each card in turn, the details of that particular card will show on the right.  For example we can see that the Velocity card has no annual fee and a 7500 sign up bonus.  You have to apply and be approved by 28 February 2013 and spend $300 on your Card within the first 3 months.  The Qantas version of this card is much the same so you would choose which program you want to earn points in first.

Now let’s look at the Rewards card which comes in several varieties.  The most expensive one, the Platinum Card has a $900 annual fee and you receive 45,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you spend $500 on your Card within the first 2 months of receiving it.  While the fee may seem high, it does come with other benefits, so have a read through and see if they appeal to you.

Much cheaper is the Platinum Edge card with a $149 annual fee, a free flight on Virgin to your choice of several selected destinations.   These are short haul domestic trips.  The sign up bonus is 10,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you spend $500 on your Card within the first 2 months.

And then there is the Platinum Reserve card with a $395 annual fee.  Some Aussies got grandfathered into this card when Amex discontinued the Gold Rewards Maximizer so we have a lower annual fee but no free domestic flight.  This is the currently offered version of the card.  There is no publicly available sign up bonus at present but I can refer you for a limited time special until 31 Dec.  You will get a large bonus and I will get a smaller bonus for referring you.  These bonuses come up throughout the year so once you have a card, you can then refer your friends and family and get bonuses for yourself!  The included flight with this card is much more generous and depending on your city of origin, you can even go to Bali or New Zealand!  For example if you live in Brisbane, you can go to Perth, Darwin, several cities in New Zealand- all flights which compensate for the annual fee.  Plus you get other benefits such as free lounge access via Priority Pass, travel insurance and more-you really need to read the whole description on the Amex site.


The special offer is:

You will receive 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $500 within the first two months of Cardmembership. If you have already applied for The Platinum Reserve Credit Card without using this recommendation, you will not be eligible for the bonus Membership Rewards points. If you already have an American Express Card, you will not be eligible for the bonus Membership Rewards points as this offer is not valid for upgrading Cardmembers. Please allow 8 to 10 weeks for the Bonus Points to be awarded once approval is made. Offer expires 31 December 2013. Subject to the Terms & Conditions of the Membership Rewards Program.  The email invitation you get will have the T&Cs and more details. 

UPDATE FOR 2013:  I can give referrals for the following American Express products:

PLATINUM CARD – You get 60,000 points

PLATINUM RESERVE CREDIT CARD – You get 40,000 points

PLATINUM EDGE CREDIT CARD – You get 15,000 points

GOLD CARD – You get 30,000 points

AMERICAN EXPRESS CARD – You get 10,000 points

If you would like a referral, please use this contact form.  I will need you email address to send you an invitation.




You can either spend them directly with online shops or transfer them to airline partners.  Obviously, the biggest value is in transferring them to airline partners for free or greatly reduced flights.  In most cases, you will have to pay some taxes but if you transfer to Virgin Velocity there are options for using points to pay the taxes and even the checked bag fees!  Here is an overview of the Membership Rewards Program.  The participating airlines and transfer ratios are HERE and the participating hotel programs and transfer ratios are HERE.


I will tell you how I use my Membership Rewards points to best advantage having been a member for 7 years.  I use 3 transfer partners.  Virgin Velocity (usually to top off what I get from my NAB card), Singapore Krisflyer for cheap awards to Pacific Islands and SPG to use on either hotels or transfer to airlines in blocks of 20,000 to get a free bonus of 5000 miles.  Transferring SPG to American AAdvantage works best for me.  If you have a 40,000 sign up bonus and you use the card for your everyday expenses like groceries, phone bills, fuel, etc; you should have 50,000 within 6 months to a year.  Here’s some ideas!

Keas, Kakarikis, Kakas and maybe Kakapo if Sirocco is doing one of his tours in New Zealand.  Remember, you get one trip included with the card so use the points to take a friend!  45,400 with no additional taxes!   Here is an example.

Or how about the Pacific Islands?  Rimatara Lorikeets and Tahitian Blue Lorikeets in the Cook Islands?  Ultramarine Lorikeets in French Polynesia?  Shining Parrots in Fiji?  Although you will need some domestic flights at additional cost, you can get from Australia to the main airports of Rarotonga, Papeete or Nadi using a Star Alliance award with Singapore’s Krisflyer.    Awards within South West Pacific are the greatest bargains in this region!

I think I’ve probably overloaded you now with information and lots of studying to do, so I will continue next week with other mileage earning credit cards in Australia.  I have seen on Flyertalk how most people dislike seeing credit card posts all the time so I am not going to do that.  I will do one edition each week until I have most of the world covered, then just link them all on a master list.  If you have any specific questions, please ask in the comments.