The allure of incredible free flights and hotel suites is too tempting to pass up. The problem is that once you actually have the points that make them happen, the points prove to be an endless sea of red tape, availability problems and hassle. Fortunately, there are a few apps, websites and tricks to make using your points everything you hoped they would be. First class here we come…

Find Out How Many Points You’ll Need For Any Flight, In One PlaceΒ – So You Can SetΒ Specific Goals…

People are instantly confused with their points because they never know how many they need for their dream flight or hotel stay. Tools likeΒ RewardExpert are brilliant at taking all the research out of figuring out how many points you need. Simply enter a starting point and a destination, as well as the class of travel- and you’ll get a complete picture of how many miles each different program will charge in points.

Use Pro Tools To Sit Back, Relax And Get Notified If Seat Availability Opens Up…

The most common stress for people who’ve managed to actually earn points- is finding availability to use them. For just $9.99 a month, which you can cancel any time- ExpertFlyer allows you to set alerts for when availability opens up. You simply set alerts for the flights, dates and cabins you’re interested in (unlimited) and if what you want becomes available- you’re first to grab it.

Think Outside The Box With Partners Of Partners, Of Partners…

We get it- this is all very convoluted and confusing, but with a bit of effort you can unlock wonderful possibilities. Who would ever think that turning hotel points into airline miles with one airline, for the purpose of using them on another would be the best way to go. Often it is! Keep in mind that even if the airline you want to fly isn’t directly a partner of your credit card company, transferring your points to an airline which partners with the airline you want to fly can unlock that possibility.

Make Sure It’s Worth Blowing Your Points In The First Place…

The allure of free travel is always so tempting. But do you need this specific trip to be free? Or is it a good value for your points? There’s nothing wrong with using your points however you see fit, but if you don’t earn points with great ease- you want to save them for things that are prohibitively expensive, or hard to come by. You don’t want to use 25,000 Hyatt points on a $250 a night hotel, because those same 25,000 points can cover a $1000 a night stay, if used at another time. Look into cents per mile value. It’s a great indicator of when it makes sense to spend those hard earned credit card points or miles.

To Maximize Fun, Look Into Generous Stopover Rules Or Routings When Booking Using Points…

Some airlines have a zero fun policy when it comes to adding stopovers or extra flights without requiring additional miles. Others however allow you to stop off in a couple places- without paying any extra points. Before cashing in your points for some awesome flights, learn about the routing rules, stopover rules or maximum permitted mileage for any ticket (Google). You may find that rather than just hitting Thailand, you can jet all around Southeast Asia without using any extra points or cash. Worth knowing!

Since Availability Comes And Goes, You May Be Able To Upgrade Your Trip Or Routing As Things Close In…

Have the miles for first or business but only find availability in the cabin behind? Since you (now) know that availability using points comes and goes, based on a variety of factors- and can change up to mere hours before travel- you know that you can always improve a reservation. Even if you’ve found something you’re happy with, always check back to see if a better connection time, a better airline partner offering better seats, or the cabin you’d really love to sit in pops open. It happens all the time.