Let's cut to the chase. Some links on this site pay us referral fees for sending business and sales. We value your time and money and won't waste it. For our complete advertising policy, click here. The content on this page is not provided by any companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone.

There’s something very emotional about cashing in a whole bunch of miles. They take so long to collect, yet only seconds to spend. Unless of course, you live in a country where you can earn 60,000 of them almost instantly, for buying a latte. Whatever pace you earn em’ – there’s just the one question on peoples minds as they cash in: will I at least earn some miles back on the flights I’ve just booked? The answer for most people is NO if we’re talking airline miles, sometimes with credit card points – but there are exceptions.

a row of seats in an airplaneAward Tickets

If you pressed the “using miles” or “award ticket” button when booking directly with an airline, the answer is almost undoubtedly, no. You will not earn frequent flyer miles if you booked your ticket using miles as the main payment for your flights. Tickets using miles almost always incur some sort of surcharge or fee of at least $5.60, but if you’re booking an award ticket, you won’t receive elite status points or frequent flyer miles. If you’re redeeming credit card points, however…

Tickets Using Credit Card Points

If you convert your credit card points into airline miles and book on an airline site, you’re not going to receive points. But if you use your Amex, Chase or Citi points directly with the bank, on their website – you WILL will earn points and miles for your flight. By redeeming with your bank, they are booking you a cash ticket, so you’ll earn all the usual points. The value per point is generally lower, but this is a big positive.

a bed in a planeUpgrades Using Miles

If you booked a ticket using cash, and upgraded with miles – you will earn miles. Depending on the airline, you’ll earn miles for the cabin you originally booked, or the upgraded cabin. Fingers crossed it’s the latter! As a side note, booking your upgrade over the phone can help your chances of getting the higher status points and frequent flyer miles!

a plane flying in the skyCash + Points Tickets

These tickets are generally a bad value for your points (and your cash). But fortunately, if you choose to book one, you will earn miles back. These tickets almost unanimously earn frequent flyer miles and elite frequent flyer points towards earning status. We can’t recommend booking them, but at least you know you’ll get something in return.

Did this answer all your questions?

Featured image courtesy of Virgin Australia.

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...

Join the Conversation


  1. There’s also using points through a travel portal to buy a ticket and earning miles on the airline. For instance, buying through Chase travel with UR (so “award” flight) but earning the miles for the flight on your chosen airline. Not quite the same, but every little bit counts. 🙂

  2. Why are airmile flights so difficult to spend fairly sometime in a week even 200 days in the future?
    My journey used to mean a change of planes in Hong Kong from London
    Fly two airline in One world, so have Avios and MarcoPolo membership

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *