How Many Miles Do I Need For a Round Trip Airline Ticket With American Express?

By Kaitlin T / January 12, 2011
Best Business Credit Cards With Airline Miles

Q: I’ve accumulated a lot of miles with my American Express card and I want to use them for a round trip ticket to somewhere warm. How many do I need to do this?

A: The price for an airline ticket depends on the number of miles traveled. And just like paying cash for an airline ticket, the price also depends on the time of day and day of the week of the flight. Popular times like weekends will cost you a lot more points than a Tuesday.

That is where your Amex membership rewards points come in to save the day.

One of the good things about American Express travel rewards is that they can be used on any airline with no blackout dates.

There are also airline-specific cards, such as the Gold Delta SkyMiles card, or the JetBlue card. These can be used on their specific airlines with no blackout dates. The benefit of these cards is that if you fly with that airline frequently, you will build up points more quickly, since you receive extra points for flying with them. (Meaning if you use your Delta SkyMiles card to book a Delta flight, you will earn more points than if you used it to book a Southwest Airlines flight).

Now on to the part you’ve been waiting for: an estimate of the points.

Whether you are using your points through a membership rewards portal or through a specific airline program, you can expect to to need a lot of miles/points to redeem a round trip ticket.

With the Jet Blue airline program, after entering the destination and the dates you wish to travel, it will come up with a few different options for flights, highlighting the cheapest options for you each way. For reference, a 6-day round trip from Westchester County, New York, to Orlando, Florida, is 13,700 points using the cheapest options.

If you’re picky about the time of day you leave, it can run you over 30,000 points. For example, a trip from New York to Cancun starts at 33,200 points.

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