5 Underpriced Awards on Obscure Award Charts

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With the proliferation of transferable points like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, Americans have access to cheap awards through tons of foreign programs.

Here are five underpriced awards on foreign award charts and how to get the miles needed to book the awards.

1. Singapore Awards Between Hawaii and the Americas

Singapore Airlines puts Hawaii and Central America–you know, those two places that are thousands of miles apart–into one region. This leads to awards “within” the region to price out at a ridiculously cheap 17,500 miles each way and 30,000 miles in Business Class.

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Roundtrip Award Prices

Similarly, Hawaii to South America is only 25,000 miles each way in economy and 40,000 miles in Business Class.

This is huge even if you don’t live in Hawaii because roundtrip Singapore Airlines awards allow for one free stopover and up to three more stopovers for $100 each.

That means you can book a roundtrip from Hawaii to South America with a stopover at your home airport in both directions for 50,000 miles + $100 + taxes. That would give you a roundtrip to South America plus two one ways to and from Hawaii on three separate trips.

Full details:

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

2. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Southern South America

Virgin Atlantic has a number of partners including Delta. On Delta, to anywhere in South America costs only 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip or 90,000 roundtrip in Business Class.

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Compare that to the 60k or 125k Delta miles the same flights to Southern South America would cost.

People disparage Delta award availability, but I find decent economy award space to South America on the carrier.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

3. Promo Awards to Europe, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, or the Canary Islands with Flying Blue Miles

Every month, Air France Flying Blue offers awards to Europe for 25% and 50% off from select cities. Here are the current offers to cities in North America.

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Oddly Flying Blue also classifies Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, and the Canary Islands as a part of Europe, so sometimes you can find award prices as low as 12,500 Flying Blue miles (50% off) to these distant destinations.

There are fuel surcharges, but I often think the deal is still too good to pass up in economy.

I also really like Promo Awards from Brazil to Europe because flights leaving Brazil have no fuel surcharges by law. These enable a THINK BIG trip like your home airport to Brazil to France to your home airport.

Full details on Promo Awards: Fly to Europeflying blue or Israel for 12,500 Miles

Flying Blue miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints.

4. Alaska Awards to South Africa on Cathay Pacific

Alaska Airlines charges a very reasonable 70,000 miles one way between the United States and Asia in Cathay Pacific First Class.Screen Shot 2016-08-30 at 4.58.42 PMIt charges the same amount to Africa from the United States in Cathay Pacific First Class.

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Hong Kong (Cathay Pacific Hub) to Johannesburg is now served by a plane without First Class, but you can still get 16 hours in First Class from the USA to Hong Kong plus 13 hours in Business Class more to Johannesburg for only 70,000 Alaska miles. If you love flying, this is the deal for you.

Alaska miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. You can also get Alaska Airlines miles from their churnable personal and business credit cards.

5. Virgin Atlantic Awards to Europe in Economy and Premium Economy

Virgin Atlantic economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles for a one way flight to the United Kingdom.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $134.60!

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Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles plus $135 and return from a low tax country to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

You can also fly one way from Atlanta, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago, or Detroit to London to in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles and $264.60.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles: Awards to Europe for as Little as 10,000 Points.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

Virgin Atlantic miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints. Plus there is the “90k offer” on the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Purchasing the Award

Pay the taxes and surcharges for these awards with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes on an award ticket definitely count.

The card also comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to 12 types of airline miles or used like cash toward the purchase of any ticket. And tomorrow (8/31) is the last day to get the Prestige to be eligible for the American Airlines lounge access benefit!

Your Turn

Did I miss any of your favorite awards on the obscure foreign award charts? Tell us about it in the comments.


Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

The comments section below is 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 questions are answered.

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Is Cathay releasing award space for their BOS-HKG direct flights yet? Each time I search on ba.com for the bos-hkg direct, it routes me through JFK or NRT.

  2. Would US Airways charge both the change fee AND the close-in fee (since the change is within 21 days of departure) if you were to change an existing award to first last minute?

  3. Would this work:

    1. One way from Central America to your home airport
    2. Stopover at your home airport
    3. Roundtrip from your airport to Hawaii
    4. Stopover at your home airport
    5. One way from your home airport to South America

    Would that price out to 42,500 miles potentially?

  4. The last paragraph (Talking about Virgin Atlantic) under Section 3 (Flying Blue) belongs at the end of Section 2 (virgin atlantic). I presume you also wanted to add at the end of Section 3 that Flying Blue is a transfer partner of Amex MR and Citi Thank You.

    • Thanks, I made the bottom of the Flying Blue section (3) about getting Flying Blue miles. I think that one change solved the problem.

  5. Can you transit other regions on Singapore awards? For example, can I transit Europe when traveling from South America to North Africa? I’m looking at GRU-IST-CAI for 70k in Turkish Airlines business, which seems cheaper than other charts (and actually 8k cheaper than going from South America to Europe). But is it legal?

    • I’m not sure. I wish I knew. I kind of get the sense that the agent prices it manually, so that would make a ‘yes’ more likely. Let me know the result if you experiment.

  6. Scott: I love these articles and the concepts. However, in practicality, the first one (Singapore miles to Hawaii) still relies on United availability and they often don’t have any availability.

  7. Don’t forget about ANA from US to Europe. As a Star Alliance member you can get a Business Class round Trip from the States to anywhere in Europe for no more than 85000 points. and some are as low as 63,000

  8. CHECK ASIAMILES AWARDS ON AA METAL FROM POINTS IN US TO MEXICO. NOT AS GOOD AS BRITISH AIRWAYS SHORT HAUL BUT NOT BAD EITHER. CERTAINLY BETTER THAN AA MILES.

  9. On Cathay North America to HKG to South Africa are you allowed a stopover in Hong Kong? Great article

    Thanks
    Rob

  10. great article. i like the cathay flight to hong kong, then to south africa for 70,000 miles. how about some more in depth posts about Asiana miles to South America, to Korea, and from Europe to US?

  11. I think what is missing is the availability of these flights. Can you comment on that and how far out do you have to book to increase the availability?

  12. For the “Roundtrip to South America, Two Free One Ways to Hawaii for 50,000 Miles,” could you use the same concept to go to Europe. In other words, Hawaii to US. Stopover in US for as long as you want. US to Europe – destination. Europe back to US – all for 55k miles?

    There is a restriction on the Singapore Airlines website about stopovers which says “No stopovers are permitted for purely domestic travel, or within the country of departure in an itinerary. No stopovers are permitted if an itinerary contains only European cities, or is between continental USA and Central America or Canada.” Technically, stopping over in the US when departing from Hawaii would be a stopover “within the country of departure,” however, since Hawaii and North America are different regions in their award chart, they may not apply this rule.

  13. Scott, I used your advice to book a flight (HNL-LAX-PHX) on United using Krisflyer miles, thanks. The question I have is that the only thing available was in 1st class on a mixed-cabin ticket. At 30k one-way it was still cheaper than anything else I could find for that date but I was wondering if I should be able to call up United and get waitlisted for the HNL-LAX segment that is in economy. I’ve read on several blogs that I could if the ticket was bought using United miles but nothing about if Krisflyer miles were used. I’ve called a couple of times and talked to agents who wanted more miles in order to waitlist me(which I don’t have). I tried explaining that I already paid for a 1st ticket there just wasn’t availability on 1 segment but I couldn’t get them to see things my way. What’s the best number at United to call to talk to someone who might be able to help me?

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