Home Points & Miles Why Booking Through Portal With Miles is Better Than Transferring Points

Why Booking Through Portal With Miles is Better Than Transferring Points

by joeheg

When searching for flights, you may come across amazing deals that are difficult to resist. For instance, when I planned our vacation to Iceland, I found a round-trip ticket from JFK to Reykjavik for only $500 with Icelandair. I was certain that no points transfer could beat this deal. Nevertheless, I still wanted to use points to buy our tickets.

We booked our flights on Icelandair through the Citi ThankYou travel portal.

I was looking for a way to burn our Citi points and this was a great option, even more so because I received 10% of the points back because we have the Citi Rewards+ card. There was an additional advantage of booking our flights through the Citi ThankYou portal. Our tickets were treated as if we had paid cash for our flights.

Let me explain.

If you have Delta SkyMiles and book an award ticket for 10,000 miles, you’re not going to receive any credit for that flight (except for miles flown). In other words, you’re not going to earn redeemable miles for flights paid with an award ticket.

But if you pay for a ticket with your miles from a credit card travel portal, it’s the same as booking the flight yourself and paying with a credit card. That’s because the portal buys the ticket and removes the points from your account. You’re not using miles in a frequent flyer program to pay for the ticket.

This means your ticket is eligible to earn frequent flyer miles. For our flights on Icelandair, I was able to attach our frequent flyer numbers to our tickets. Neither Sharon nor I belong to Icelandair’s loyalty program but I found that the airline has several partners to credit our flights.

I put my JetBlue TrueBlue number on my reservation and then added Sharon’s Alaska Mileage Plan number.

Shortly after our flights, we both received 1,297 miles in our accounts. The flight from JFK-KEF is 2,593 miles and at the time both programs awarded 50% of miles flown for Icelandair basic economy tickets.

I’m sure that many of you are cringing that I didn’t choose to earn AS miles for my flight but I didn’t have an Alaska Mileage Plan account. I’ve since fixed that problem. I was also curious if the points would be posted to each program, so I took the loss for the website.

So while it’s often a better value to transfer your points from a transferrable point program to an airline to make an award booking, there are several reasons why it makes sense to book a flight directly through a credit card portal. It might cost fewer points and you’re also able to earn frequent flyer miles for the flight.

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.

Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Omar September 16, 2023 - 4:34 pm

Unless you have unlimited points, you would have been better off using cash for this trip and transferring points for a future booking. Getting 1.1-1.2 cpm for citi points is a bad deal no matter how you slice it.

2808 Heavy September 21, 2023 - 1:57 pm

That sounds like a good idea until the moment you need to make a change. That’s when you’ll probably find yourself wishing that you had just transferred the points. The customer service associated with most travel portals are absolutely horrible. I’ve actually given up on a ticket or 2 over the years because I hated dealing with cxLoyalty just that much.

LEE/J September 21, 2023 - 3:53 pm

Booking through the portal turns the ticket into a third party reservation…no better than a Orbitz, Travelocity, Hotwire or other OTA ticket. Trying to get changes to such tickets are difficult. The actual customer is the OTA, not the pax.

The airline would be correct when they say they can’t make changes to the ticket (if such changes become necessary)


Leave a Comment