Aoraki / Mount Cook surrounded by mountains

We have a rule of thumb here at God Save The Points- and it’s that if you’re going to travel halfway around the world- you better see a lot. Flying all the way to Japan or New Zealand just to take in one city is simply not enough. These are two of the best countries in the world- with topography, culture and spirit which is so diverse from city to city. Without breaking the bank, you can jet around for 12,000 points round trip, and some one way options as low as 4,500 points…

a credit card and a cardWe’re Using Amex, Virgin Atlantic Or British Airways Points…

But we’re not flying on Virgin Atlantic or British Airways. Partners are the key to points. British Airways charges no taxes and just 4,500 points for short flights within Japan on Japan Airlines. Virgin Atlantic charges just 7,500 one way or 15,000 round trip in New Zealand on Air New Zealand and 15,000 round trip in Japan on ANA. But thanks to an Amex transfer bonus (if you have Amex Points) you can score even better deals.

a red bridge over a stream

Take 30% Off 7,500 Point Or 15,000 Point Trips

Through November 30th, for every American Express Membership Rewards Point you transfer, you’ll get 1.3 Virgin Atlantic miles. You can immediately turn around and use these points for travel on Virgin Atlantic’s partners. So- round trip anywhere within Japan would be just 12,000 points. Same for New Zealand. With New Zealand you can also do one ways, which now require a mere 6,000 points. That’s peanuts.

a road with trees and mountains in the backgroundBut Is It A Good Deal? Here’s How To Know

Cents per mile is the technical way of figuring this out. In terms of points- it’s a great deal in theory because it’s a low amount of points. The question is- can you pay less than 12,000 points worth of cash for these same flights. In other words: Can you pay $100 for a flight that would require 12,000 points? If so- you’d be better off just paying cash. But then again- points are personal and if you just want to save some money, there’s nothing wrong with that.

a seat in an airplane

How To Book These Opportunities

If you’re trying to book flights under 650 miles within Japan- use British Airways miles. Just 4,500 miles will cover a one way ticket and you can search and book these flights online on the British Airways website. If you’re using Virgin points, you’ll need to find space on ANA or Air New Zealand. We suggest using the United Airlines website (and ignoring the numbers they quote). Look to see if there is “saver” space available on ANA or ANZ flights. If there is, you can call Virgin Atlantic in and book it. Here’s a hack to beat call center wait times, by the way. Before booking, remember to transfer your Amex points over to Virgin Atlantic to save 30% off. If you only have Virgin Atlantic points, rinse and repeat this advice- minus the 30% off part. Easy, effective stuff. Enjoy.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Appreciate all the great info that you share. This is perfect timing. I’m headed to Japan for Christmas and had only purchased the longest leg of the flight. I still need to get my family from HND to my wife’s hometown, and BA has the exact number of seats we need for 9,000 Avios R/T each.

    I tried checking United’s site, but since I’m not a CC holder, it won’t show domestic reward chart (for research on ANA). Any recommendations on how to bypass this?

    Appreciate your help!

  2. For Domestic Japan flights, United is the best deal for points. 5k points anywhere within Japan. I used them for Okinawa to Nagasaki while cash rates were $300+

  3. Is the 30% Amex transfer available in the UK?
    I called about 2 months ago when I read about another similar claim in a post and no one knew anything about it.

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