This is step five in our six-step series Beginner’s Guide to Free Travel & Rewards.
In this post we will give a general overview of how to redeem hotel and airline points for free travel.
Redeeming points may be the most complicated part about travel rewards. While hotel points and free nights are relatively easy to redeem, airline rewards can be more complex.
We will start off with hotel points and then get into airlines.
How to Redeem Hotel Points for Free Nights
It’s easiest to go to the hotel chain website to look for rooms. Check the box for using rewards points. If the room type comes up as available book it and you’re all set!
Things to keep in mind:
- Usually only the base room type is available for free night bookings. Some hotel chains allow you to book a higher level room or suite for an additional amount of points (Hyatt, Hilton).
- Most hotel programs don’t have “black out dates”. If the base room type is available to be booked with cash it SHOULD be open to book with points.
- Most hotel programs have free cancelation for free night bookings, up to 3 days before check-in. However this may change especially during peak season.
How to Redeem Airline Points for Free Flights
A few very important points to note about redeeming AIRLINE Points:
- Using airline points/miles means that you are using those points to book a flight on that airline or any of the airline’s partners.
- You will need to need to understand point redemption and routing rules for the airline whose points you are using.
- You are NOT transferring those airline points to another airline to book the flight.
The best way to understand this is through an example:
How to Use United Airline Points for a Flight to Europe
- Lets say you want to book a flight from the United states to Europe using United Airline points.
You could obviously book a flight on United, but since United is a member of Star Alliance, you could book a flight on any of United’s 27 other Star Alliance partners as well (Air France, Lufthansa, Eva Air etc).
Let’s say you like this Lufthansa flight
- You can actually click through and book the flight online and you’re all set for fine champagne and caviar.
- Some other airlines will not allow you to book flights online however. You may need to call the airline whose points you are using to book the award flight.
- Keep in mind you are NOT transferring United points to Lufthansa to book the flight. Lufthansa is not involved in the transaction at all. Their only involvement is when you call them to choose your seat assignment, to fly the plane once you have that comfy first class seat and to serve you champagne and caviar at 25,000 feet 😉