Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
The Ultimate Guide to Points and Miles for Business Owners
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If you’re a business owner, you know that the saying “you have to spend money to make money” rings true.
After all, being a business owner comes with countless expenses like office space, web hosting, shipping, salaries, and payments to contractors. And while all of these expenses usually make you more money in the end, it’s important to be smart with your purchases.
The traditional methods of being “smart” with business purchases can mean comparison shopping, buying generic options, and bulk-ordering business necessities. But one thing often missing from the business purchase equation is how you pay for your purchases.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen major banks like Chase, American Express, and Capital One introduce attractive new business credit cards. These cards earn lucrative rewards points that can be used for travel and include other business benefits like purchase protection, rental car damage waivers, and travel protection. Each of these can have a major impact on your business’ bottom line — especially if you and your employees travel for work.
So if you’re interested in earning points and miles on your business purchases, you’re in the right place. We’ll take you through everything you need to know about earning points on your business purchases.
Hot Tip:Not a business owner? Check out our full guide to getting started with credit card points and miles as an individual.
We’ll start with a look at how credit card points can help your business and explain why you need to earn them. Then, we’ll take a look at a beginner’s points-earning strategy that you can use to jumpstart your business miles and points earning. Finally, we’ll round-out the article with a look at sample redemptions and a discussion on how to earn even more points.
Let’s get started!
Why Businesses Need Travel Rewards Credit Cards
As you can probably already see, we’re focusing on credit card travel rewards in this article — and that’s the primary reason why many businesses opt to open a business credit card in the first place.
Most business credit cards — and all of the cards we’ll discuss in this guide — earn travel rewards on each and every purchase. These can be purchases in any category, meaning that you’ll earn points on everything from flight tickets to office snacks to computer equipment. Depending on how much your business spends each month, this can help you earn a ton of extra points on your everyday business purchases.
Plus, some cards offer bonus points on purchases in select categories. For example, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card — one of our favorite business credit cards — offers 3x points per $1 spent on the first $150,000 spent annually on travel, shipping, internet and cable bills, phone services, and social media and search engine ads.
This means that you can earn up to 450,000 extra Ultimate Rewards points per year, which is enough to fly just about anywhere in the world in business class, multiple times.
We’ll dive into exactly what these points are later in the article, but cards like the Ink Business Preferred card earn transferable points. This means that they can be used for cash-back or travel booked through a travel portal, or they can be transferred to several different airline and hotel partners.
We’ve found that you can get the best value by transferring your points as you can redeem for business class flights, hotel suites, and would-be expensive short-haul tickets around the U.S.
Other Reasons You Need a Business Credit Card
Business credit cards are important for a variety of reasons — and it’s not just because you can earn lucrative miles and points with them.
A major reason why your business may want a business credit card is, simply, for budgeting and purchasing power. Your business can use credit cards to plan for purchases and make purchases while you’re waiting for invoices to be paid. This gives you more purchasing power than a debit card and lets you more easily plan for large expenses.
Likewise, many business credit cards let you add employee cards for free. When you do this, you can track employee spending, easily set spend limits, and make expense reporting a lot easier. Plus, you’ll earn credit card points on your employee’s purchases, something that isn’t possible if you simply reimburse your employees for their purchases via a traditional expense report.
This also makes your employees’ lives easier. They no longer need to float business purchases on their own or worry about accidentally going past spending limits.
Finally, many business credit cards have included purchase protections. Many credit cards offer protection from loss and theft on purchases for a certain amount of time after they’re made. This gives you peace of mind when purchasing expensive equipment like computers, smartphones, and A/V equipment for employees. We’ll dive deeper into exactly what these protections are when we take a look at specific business credit cards later in the article.
Hot Tip: In addition to a business credit card, there are many great reasons to get a business checking account too. We recommend you consider a business checking account with Chase, as they have great options for businesses of all sizes.
Different Types of Business Credit Cards
Business credit cards can earn 3 different types of rewards: transferable points, airline/hotel points, or cash-back.
Each of these types of rewards has its own merits, but you should do your own research to find which is the best fit for your company’s needs. We’ve taken a deep dive into each of these types of rewards in the paragraphs below — we’ll start with an explanation on what each is and then discuss who may be the best fit for each type of reward.
Here’s a look:
Transferable Points — the Most Flexibility and the Most Rewards
Transferable points are our favorite type of credit card rewards for both businesses and personal credit cards.
This is because they’re by far the most lucrative type of credit card rewards and they’re extremely flexible. This is because when you earn transferable points you have multiple ways of redeeming them.
Some of these ways include redeeming points for cash-back, covering travel expenses through the credit card company’s in-house travel portal, or redeeming for merchandise like gift cards. However, we usually don’t recommend redeeming your transferable points for any of these redemptions.
See, transferable points currencies are called “transferable” points for a reason. This is because — as the name suggests — they can be transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs. Usually, these include major U.S. and foreign airlines spanning all major airline alliances and hotel chains with a global reach (think Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott).
When you transfer your points, you can take advantage of each of the transfer partner’s redemption sweet spots, such as using just 90,000 points for a round-trip business class ticket from the West Coast U.S. to Japan on the award-winning All Nippon Airways (ANA).
Each of these currencies has its own unique set of transfer partners — for example, the Chase transfer partners include companies like United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, and many others. You can redeem for tickets on these airlines and their respective partners by transferring your points to one of these transfer partners.
Airline and Hotel Points — Limited Flexibility, More Perks
On the other hand, some business credit cards earn points towards a single airline or hotel loyalty program. These cards are generally called co-branded credit cards since the bank issues the card under the airline or hotel program’s name.
These points are generally less flexible than transferable points as they can only be redeemed through a single airline or hotel loyalty program. So if you earn United miles through a United credit card, you won’t be able to transfer them to another airline like Delta Air Lines or American Airlines.
You can, however, use your United miles (or any other type of airline mile) to book flights on the airline’s alliance and non-alliance partners. In the case of United, you can book tickets on Lufthansa, SWISS, and other partners through the United website using your points.
One upside, however, to cobranded credit cards is that they have more benefits than transferable points currencies. For example, the United Club℠ Business Card includes a full United Club membership, access to Premier Access security lanes, and a free checked bag for the primary cardholder. These benefits aren’t included with any transferable points or cash-back credit card, so it may be worthwhile for business owners that travel on United Airlines frequently.
We recommend getting these cards in-tandem with a transferable points card. You can use the transferable points card to earn points on your purchases and then use the airline or hotel credit card for benefits. Generally, you do not need to purchase airfare or hotel rooms with the card that includes the benefits either — so, just book your flights as usual and enjoy the benefits.
Cash-Back — Cash Can Be King (For Some Businesses)
Finally, we have cash-back rewards.
Unfortunately, these are usually the least lucrative of the trio. After all, cash-back can only be redeemed for face value, unlike transferable points, airline miles, and hotel points which can be redeemed for a variable value depending on the flights or hotel room you opt to redeem your points for.
There is a place for cash-back, though. You may find cash-back more lucrative if you and your employees don’t travel often. Then, you can use the earned cash-back to offset business costs, reducing operating costs and improving your business’ bottom line.
Remember though, transferable points can often be redeemed as cash-back, too. So if you want to go the cash-back route, we recommend that you use a transferable points card like an Ink Business credit card anyway. This will keep your options open if an opportunity to travel opens up.
Different Types of Transferable Points
There are a few different types of transferable points that you can earn with business credit cards: Capital One miles, Chase Ultimate Rewards points, and American Express Membership Rewards points. As discussed, each of these types of points has its own set of transfer partners and other cool features.
Here’s a quick look at the 3 transferable points currencies listed above alongside their transfer partner lists. This should give you a good look at what’s possible with each of the currencies. Plus, these transfer partner lists are always up-to-date and reflect additions and removals.
American Express Membership Rewards
American Express Membership Rewards points are one of our favorite transferable points currencies. The currency can be earned by a wide range of different Amex credit cards, and it has the most transfer partners of all the major transferable points programs.
The Amex Business Platinum card is aimed at frequent business travelers and includes premium benefits like airport lounge access, a $200 airline incidental fee credit, and more. Plus, the card earns 5x points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and 1.5x points on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else (up to $2 million in purchases per calendar year).
On the other hand, the Amex Business Gold card is focused on points earning. You can earn 4x points per dollar spent on your business’ first $150,000 in spending in 2 of the following categories:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
Don’t worry — you don’t have to pick these spend categories on your own. Amex will automatically award 4x points per dollar spent on purchases in the 2 categories you spend the most in, meaning that you’ll always earn the most points possible with your Amex Business Gold card.
Moving back to the points side of things, American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to several hotel and airline points programs. Some of our favorite transfer partners include Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways Avios, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
For example, you can use Membership Rewards (or Chase Ultimate Rewards) points transferred to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club to book a trip from the U.S. West Coast to Tokyo (HND/NRT) in business class for just 90,000 Virgin Points on partner airline All Nippon Airways (ANA).
Hot Tip: We spent a lot of hours putting together a guide on the easiest ways to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points to give you some inspiration!
Here’s a quick look at all of the Amex transfer partners:
Amex Airline Transfer Partners
|Amex Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Aer Lingus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air Canada||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|British Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Cathay Pacific||1,000||1:1||Up to 1 Week|
|Delta Air Lines||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Etihad Airways||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue Air France/KLM||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Virgin Atlantic||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
Amex Hotel Transfer Partners
|Amex Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Amex > Partner)
|Choice Privileges||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Hilton Honors||1,000||1:2||Almost Instant|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
You can also redeem your Membership Rewards points for gift cards, merchandise, and paid travel through the Amex Travel portal. However, we generally don’t recommend these options as you’ll get significantly less value for your points than if you were to transfer points to transfer partners.
Capital One Miles
Capital One miles are the most recent addition to the transferable points world. They have an impressive list of transfer partners, with a couple of partners that are exclusive to Capital One.
Here’s a look at all of Capital One’s transfer partners:
|Capital One Transfer Partner||Minimum Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(CapOne > Partner)
|ALL - Accor Live Limitless||1,000||2:1||Up to 36 hours|
|Aeromexico Club Premier||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Avianca LifeMiles||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|British Airways Avios||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1,000||1:1||Up to 36 hours|
|Choice Privileges||1,000||1:1||Up to 24 hours|
|Emirates Skywards||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Etihad Guest||1,000||1:1||Up to 36 hours|
|EVA Infinity MileageLands||1,000||2:1.5||Up to 36 hours|
|Finnair Plus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Flying Blue AIR FRANCE KLM||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer||1,000||1:1||Up to 36 hours|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||Up to 36 hours|
|TAP Air Portugal Miles&Go||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles||1,000||1:1||Up to 24 hours|
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Finally, we have another staff favorite: Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
There are 3 awesome Chase business credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points — these cards include the Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, the Ink Business Preferred card, and the Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card. Each of these cards has unique earning rates, and the Ink Business Preferred card has other interesting benefits like cell phone insurance.
We’ll go more in-depth on these cards in the next section of this article, but we recommend that you get the Ink Business Preferred card first. This is because the Ink Business Cash card and Ink Business Unlimited cards cannot transfer points to transfer partners out-of-the-box — instead, the points need to be combined with a more premium Chase card (personal or business) and can then be transferred out.
These premium Chase credit cards include:
- Ink Business Preferred card
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (personal card)
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®(personal card)
Ultimate Rewards are another super valuable points currency. We value these points at 1.95 cents per point, largely because of many of Chase’s exclusive transfer partners like United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Hyatt. We like to use United transfers for its Excursionist perk on international bookings, Southwest miles for low-cost domestic travel, and Hyatt for high-end hotel stays.
Additionally, there is some transfer partner overlap with American Express Membership Rewards and Capital One. For example, you can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards to British Airways Avios, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Hot Tip: Check out our full guide to redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points for inspiration on how to best use your points!
Here’s a quick look at all of the Ultimate Rewards transfer partners:
|Chase Airline Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio|
(Chase > Airline)
|Aer Lingus AerClub||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Air France-KLM Flying Blue||1,000||1:1||1 hour|
|British Airways Executive Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Emirates Skywards||1,000||1:1||Almost instant|
|Iberia Plus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer||1,000||1:1||1-2 days|
|Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|United Airlines MileagePlus||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
|Chase Hotel Transfer Partner||Min Transfer||Transfer Ratio||Transfer Time|
|IHG One Rewards||1,000||1:1||1 day|
|Marriott Bonvoy||1,000||1:1||2 days|
|World of Hyatt||1,000||1:1||Almost Instant|
Likewise, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points for merchandise, gift cards, cash-back, and paid travel. We generally don’t recommend doing this as these redemptions — as you might expect — severely limit the value you can get from your Ultimate Rewards points.
Here’s Where to Start — the Ultimate Rewards Strategy
So, with so many points options, where do you start?
We highly recommend going the Chase Ultimate Rewards route first. While we value these points a little lower than American Express Membership Rewards points at 1.95 cents per point, they still provide excellent value and let you pick from a wide range of different redemptions — everything from hotel suites at Hyatt to top-notch Singapore Suites first class tickets are possible redemptions.
Additionally, Chase has instated a rule called the 5/24 rule. This unwritten rule restricts people that open lots of credit cards from opening new Chase credit cards — including Chase business credit cards.
In short, this rule means that you’ll automatically be denied for new Chase cards when you’ve opened 5 or more new credit cards in the past 24 months before your date of application. So before you apply for an American Express or Capital One credit card, make sure to get an Ink Business credit card or 2 first so you don’t miss out.
With that in mind though, you should definitely consider American Express and Capital One cards in the future. These points are super valuable, and the cards that earn them have excellent perks and benefits to boot — just make sure to sign up for them after you hit 5/24.
Once you get your first business credit card, make sure to meet the welcome bonus’ minimum spend requirement. As discussed earlier, this is generally between $3,000 and $5,000 depending on the card you choose, and the bonus can be anywhere from 30,000 points to 100,000 points.
Hot Tip: If you’re curious about what not to do, we’ve compiled this list of the worst ways to use your points and miles.
The Best Chase Credit Cards to Start With
As mentioned earlier, there are 3 different Ink Business credit cards. These include the Ink Business Preferred card, Ink Business Cash card, and Ink Business Unlimited card. And while all of these are very attractive credit cards, we highly recommend applying for the Ink Business Preferred card first.
Ink Business Preferred Overview
The Ink Business Preferred card is the highest-end of the 3 Ink Business credit cards and has a $95 annual fee. Thankfully though, this fee is more than made up for by the card’s extensive set of benefits. This includes things like cell phone insurance, purchase protection, and an excellent points-earning structure.
You’ll earn 3x points per dollar spent on your first $150,000 (then 1x) in combined purchases in the following categories:
- Shipping purchases
- Internet, cable and phone services
- Advertising purchases with social media sites and search engines
This means that the card is excellent for technology companies, eCommerce companies, and companies that have lots of travel expenses. As you’d expect, you’ll earn 1x points per dollar spent on all other purchases.
The Ink Business Preferred card’s cell phone insurance is an intriguing benefit, too. When you pay your business cell phone bill with your Ink Business Preferred card, you and your employees’ cell phones will be protected for up to $600 from theft and damage. You can make 3 claims per year, and each claim is subject to a $100 deductible, meaning that each claim will pay out a maximum of $500.
Another thing the Ink Business Preferred card includes that’s unique to this variant of the Ink Business line is travel delay protection. All travel booked with your Ink Business Preferred card — or points redeemed from your Ink Business Preferred card — is eligible for up to $500 in reimbursements when your trip is delayed by 12+ hours. Eligible reimbursements include lodging, meals, transportation to your hotel, and other necessary expenses. Just make sure you have proof of your delay.
All Chase business credit cards include extensive purchase protection, as well. We go in-depth on these benefits in our full review of the Ink Business Preferred card’s perks and features, but as a quick overview: all purchases are protected from damage for up to $100,000 within 120 days of the purchase date. So if your new laptop is stolen at a cafe the day after you buy it, you’re covered.
Plus, all purchases receive a free extended warranty from Chase. This benefit adds 1 year of coverage to products that have a manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years or less at no charge, and purchases are protected up to $10,000 per warranty claim with up to $50,000 in claims per account. This coverage will generally match the manufacturer’s warranty coverage meaning that theft and damage are usually not covered.
All of these awesome benefits make the Ink Business Preferred card one of our favorite small business cards, and the one we recommend most businesses start with. Its points-earning is excellent, and the purchase protection benefits, cell phone insurance, and extended warranty benefits sweeten the deal even further.
The card usually has an attractive welcome bonus. Here’s a look at the card’s specifics:
Ink Business Cash Card Overview
The Ink Business Cash card is another great Ink Business credit card that earns bonus points in a handful of different spending categories. Additionally, the card has no annual fee, making it an excellent card to hold onto for the long-term.
Something to note about the Ink Business Cash card is that it’s technically a cash-back card. However, as mentioned earlier, you can transfer the cash-back earned with your Ink Business Cash card to a premium Ultimate Rewards earning credit card and turn the earned cash-back into Ultimate Rewards points.
The card is great for businesses that spend lots of money on dining, at office supply stores, and in a couple of other select categories. Here’s a look at bonus points earning on the Ink Business Cash card:
5% cash-back (or 5x points) on the first $25,000 spent (then 1%/1x) in these categories:
- Office supply stores
- Internet, cable, and phone services
2% cash-back (or 2x points) on the first $25,000 spent (then 1%/1x) in these categories:
- Gas stations
The purchase protection and extended warranty benefits are the same as the Ink Business Preferred card, but the card doesn’t include the same travel protections or cell phone coverage. However, the card’s high earning rates on telecom and office supply purchases make the card super attractive for many businesses, so we recommend this as a companion card to the Ink Business Preferred card.
Here’s the card’s specifics, including interest rates, welcome bonus, and more:
Ink Business Unlimited Card Overview
The newest addition to the Ink Business credit card lineup is the no annual fee Ink Business Unlimited card. This card is the business equivalent of the popular Chase Freedom Unlimited® – it earns 1.5% cash-back on all business purchases, regardless of the purchase category. As you’d expect, the earned cash-back can be converted to Ultimate Rewards points with a premium Chase credit card like the Ink Business Preferred card or Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
The card doesn’t have any spend categories beyond this, but the card is great for companies that purchase lots of industrial supplies, pay invoices with a credit card, or otherwise make purchases in more obscure spend categories. Take a look at your expenses and see if the card is a good option for your business.
Further, we also like this card as an addition to the Ink Business Preferred card and Ink Business Cash card. Armed with all 3 business credit cards, your business will never earn less than 1.5 points per dollar spent on all of its credit card payable expenses. This means you can rack up some serious extra points with everyday spend.
Here’s some additional info on the card, like welcome bonuses and more:
Getting Started With Earning Points for Your Business
So, now that you have a good look at your credit card options and know a good place to start, what’s next?
Simple: it’s time to start earning points!
The first thing you’ll want to do is meet your welcome bonus’ spend requirement. So if the card you’re approved for offers 50,000 points after $3,000 in purchases, make sure you make this number of purchases before the spend period is over.
Now, we don’t recommend making unnecessary purchases or going into debt to meet these thresholds. Some easy ways to increase your credit card spend, however, is to pay check-payable expenses — think rent, contractor payments, etc. — with Plastiq. This service lets you mail a check using your credit card without paying huge cash advance fees. And since most payments code as a purchase, you’ll earn points (and make progress towards your minimum spend) in the process. The service’s small fee is generally worth it when working towards a lucrative welcome bonus.
Also make sure to set all recurring payments like cell phone bills, internet and cable costs, and software subscriptions to be paid automatically with your credit card of choice. This will help you rack up points, and is even more lucrative when charging the expense to a card that earns bonus points on the purchase category.
You may also want to change your default payment methods for Lyft, Uber, and other frequently-used services to your newly minted Ink Business credit card. Plus, make sure to pay all business travel expenses with your Ink Business Preferred card going forward — remember, you’ll earn 3x points per dollar and inch closer to the minimum spend!
Hot Tip: You’ll earn 5x points for 5% back on Lyft purchases through March 2025 with any of the Chase Ink cards.
If you’re still struggling to meet the minimum spend, you may elect to prepay expenses for the future. You can often do this for office utilities like internet, electricity, and heating. Likewise, you may want to bulk order other office supplies like pens, toilet paper, bottled water, and snacks.
Using Your Hard-Earned Ultimate Rewards Points
So, you’ve been using your credit card for a few months. You’ve met the minimum spend requirement, racked up some points, and are itching to spend them. We don’t blame you — having a fresh stash of points in your pocket can make even the most well-traveled of us antsy to hop on the next plane out of town.
In the paragraphs below, we’ll walk you through some of our all-time favorite Ultimate Rewards redemptions. These are just a small selection, though, so make sure to check out our full guide to redeeming Ultimate Rewards points for even more awesome redemptions.
Redeeming for Domestic Business Flights on American Airlines
Many U.S.-based businesses frequently need their employees to fly around the country. Whether it be for meetings, networking events, or trade shows, there’s a good chance that you and your employees take a domestic flight for work at least 1 or 2 times per year.
This can be costly, too — booking at the last-minute on business-heavy routes is never cheap, and even booking in advance can lead to high fares, forcing you to shell out big bucks for a seat or fly on a low-cost carrier.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways Avios to book domestic U.S. award tickets on the carrier’s Oneworld partner, American Airlines.
You can book flights up to 1,151 miles for just 9,000 miles one-way. This includes a ton of awesome business routes like Chicago (ORD) to New York (LGA), Charlotte (CLT) to Toronto (YYZ), and St. Louis (STL) to Dallas (DFW). These routes can get expensive, so it’s always worth checking your options before you book a pricey ticket.
Booking these tickets is easy too. Most American Airlines award tickets show on the British Airways website, so you can simply navigate to the airline’s Book with Avios page and enter your flight details. Then, once you find the flight you want to book, transfer the points from Ultimate Rewards to British Airways and book your ticket. These transfers process near-instantly.
Another great thing about booking domestic tickets with British Airways Avios is flexibility. You can cancel your American Airlines award tickets for just the cost of taxes and fees ($5.60), so you can preemptively book flights that you think you might need to fly and cancel them with only a minor penalty.
Fly to Europe in Style on SkyTeam Partners
Whether you have a meeting in London, fancy a sunny family vacation in Nice, or want to grab a pint of Pilsner beer in Prague, flying to Europe can be a tiring experience in economy class. Flying to Europe from the U.S. means intense time changes, and the flight can be over 10 hours when flying from the West Coast.
Thankfully, you don’t have to fly in economy class (or pay big bucks for a business class ticket) when you’re armed with a stash of Ultimate Rewards points. Just transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ joint loyalty program, Flying Blue, and book a business class ticket on the cheap. Better yet, these airlines have pretty swanky business and first class products.
Both Air France and KLM are in the SkyTeam alliance, so you can use Flying Blue points to book tickets on these airlines or other SkyTeam partner airlines like Delta Air Lines, Czech Airlines, and others. All of these airlines give SkyTeam a huge European route network, so it’s easy to visit just about any European destination.
Booking tickets with Flying Blue isn’t as simple as it is with other transfer partners, though. The airline has dynamic award pricing, meaning that tickets are priced variably and aren’t connected to an award chart. Some things that can affect Flying Blue ticket pricing include passenger demand and flying on peak dates, amongst other factors.
This means that there’s a wide range of pricing for Flying Blue tickets to Europe. While awards can sometimes be unnecessarily expensive, we’ve found that there are tons of cheap flights available if you have flexibility in your schedule.
These deals aren’t a rarity either. Recent searches found a one-way business class ticket on Air France from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) to Dublin (DUB) for just 53,000 Flying Blue miles and $223.14 in taxes and fees one-way. This is an excellent deal, especially when you consider that a paid ticket on this route usually costs over $2,000 one-way.
Take Your Family to Hawaii From the West Coast
Prefer a trip to a sunny paradise like Hawaii instead? You’re in luck because your Ultimate Rewards points can get you there for (almost) free, too — here’s how.
Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines have a non-alliance partnership that lets each other’s frequent flyers book tickets on each other’s airlines. In this case, you’ll be transferring points from Ultimate Rewards to Singapore Airlines Krisflyer and then booking tickets on Alaska Airlines from one of its West Coast hubs to one of its Hawaiian gateways.
Doing this can be a little bit complicated, though. But fear not — we’re here to help!
Singapore Airlines has a dedicated award chart for Alaska Airlines flights. You can view it on the Singapore Airlines website (warning: PDF link). You’ll see that the award chart splits the U.S. into 5 different zones — here’s the breakdown:
- Zone 1: California, Oregon, Washington
- Zone 2: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico Wyoming, Utah, Canada
- Zone 3: Arkansas, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin
- Zone 4: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, D.C., West Virginia
- Zone 5: Alaska, Hawaii
Here’s the problem though: you can’t book tickets that include layovers. So if you want to fly from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu (HNL), you can’t do it with Singapore Airlines miles. Likewise, you can’t book a ticket from New York (JFK) to Kona (KOA) since Alaska Airlines doesn’t fly the route nonstop.
While this is disappointing, business owners based on the U.S. West Coast can score excellent deals using this award chart. For example, you can book Alaska’s nonstop route from Seattle (SEA) to Kona (KOA) in economy for just 24,000 points per person round-trip using Singapore Airlines miles.
As you might expect, booking this deal can be a bit complicated. First, you have to go to American Airlines’ website and search for your award ticket of choice. Make sure to select the Redeem Miles button at the top of the search box when you search for your award ticket.
Once the search loads, sift through the search results and keep an eye out for awards that fit 2 pieces of criteria: the flight is nonstop AND is operated by Alaska Airlines. Then, make sure there’s award space by checking if the flight has a point cost listed in economy class.
Take note of the flight number and transfer the necessary points (the number listed on the PDF linked above) to Singapore Airlines. Just note that these transfers usually take around 24 hours to process, so there’s a risk of losing award space if the flight is booked or if the flight otherwise becomes full. Unfortunately, you cannot put Alaska Airlines flights on hold through Singapore Airlines.
Once the miles have made it to your Singapore Airlines account, call Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer line (312-843-5333) and ask a representative to book the ticket for you. Alaska Airlines award tickets are not currently bookable on the Singapore Airlines website.
Check Singapore Suites Off of Your Bucket List
Singapore Airlines made waves when it introduced its award-winning Suites first class seats over 13 years ago. The seat features a full single bed in the sky, and 2 seats can be combined into a double bed if you’re flying with a companion. And while this is impressive alone, Singapore Suites’ service sweetens the deal even more by offering excellent food, top-notch Champagne, and even caviar service in the sky.
Our founder — Alex Miller — has enjoyed and reviewed the original Singapore Suites product a couple of times, and he absolutely loves it. The original Singapore Suites product is still installed on most of Singapore Airlines’ A380 aircraft, and it has held up surprisingly well over the past 13 years.
Plus, some of the airline’s A380 aircraft have the new variant of Singapore Suites installed. Upgraded Points writer Greg Stone reviewed the product in 2019 and found that it’s even better than the original. As you can see in the photo above, the new “seat” has a separate bed and seat, giving you a proper room in the aircraft. Super cool!
Revenue tickets in Singapore Suites can be insanely expensive, though. We often see these tickets price out at well over $10,000 one-way on routes like New York (JFK) to Singapore (SIN) via Frankfurt (FRA), putting it out of reach for the vast majority of us — at least until your business starts earning points and miles.
You can transfer just 97,000 Ultimate Rewards points to Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer program and book a one-way Singapore Suites ticket from New York (JFK) to Frankfurt (FRA). Or if you fancy a trip to Singapore (SIN) instead, you can fly Suites all the way there for just 148,500 points and $49 in taxes and fees.
This is undoubtedly a lot of Chase points to part with, but it’s an excellent redemption for over 20 hours in Singapore Suites first class. Plus, you get access to Singapore Airlines’ top-notch lounge at JFK and the Lufthansa Senator lounge in FRA, giving you plenty of time to relax while you’re en-route to The Garden City.
Thankfully, booking the ticket is pretty simple. Just head over to the Singapore Airlines website and run an award search using the search box at the center of the homepage. Make sure to select the Redeem flights button at the top of the search box. Once the results load, look for flights with Saver space for the best points price.
Also, note that Singapore Airlines does let you put award tickets on hold so long as they’re operated by Singapore Airlines. Since Ultimate Rewards transfers take at least 24 hours to process, we highly recommend taking advantage of this. You can call Singapore Airlines at 312-843-5333 to request a hold on any flight with award space.
Fly First Class to Tokyo on All Nippon Airways’ (ANA) 777
ANA is the flag carrier of Japan and has a huge route network from its Tokyo hubs at Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND). This includes several routes to the U.S., including places like Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), and New York (JFK), amongst others.
The airline’s business and first class products are well known as some of the best in the sky. In first class, you can expect top-tier service, a great lie-flat seat in an enclosed suite, excellent Japanese-inspired dining, and some of the world’s finest Champagne. And in business class, you can experience great dining, a solid lie-flat seat, and lounge access at your point of departure.
Booking ANA first and business class can be expensive, though. The airline’s flight from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) is often over $7,000 round-trip in business class, setting you back a pretty penny for a flight across the Pacific. First class, on the other hand, can be well over $15,000 depending on when you book.
Thankfully, though, U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic and ANA have a non-alliance partnership that lets you use your Virgin Atlantic points to book tickets on ANA for cheap. In fact, a round-trip first class ticket from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND) is only 120,000 Virgin Points round-trip. Likewise, a round-trip business class ticket from Los Angeles (LAX) to Tokyo (NRT) is only 90,000 miles.
There are a couple of things to note about booking ANA tickets with Virgin Points, though. The first thing to note is that you have to book a round-trip ticket — unfortunately, one-way bookings are not allowed. You can, however, book an open-jaw ticket; an example of this would be booking Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Tokyo-Narita (NRT) and returning from Tokyo-Haneda (HND) to Chicago (ORD).
Hot Tip: Knowing how to optimize award tickets can be overwhelming. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best frequent flyer programs’ routing rules to book your stopovers and open-jaws!
Finding and booking award space is complicated for this redemption, but we think it’s totally worth the trouble when compared to the cash price or the number of points required to book elsewhere. For example, a round-trip first class ANA ticket booked through United — another Ultimate Rewards transfer partner — costs 220,000 points or more.
To book the ticket, you’ll need to find ANA award space on United’s website first. Simply search for your route of choice and look for ANA-operated tickets with first or business class Saver availability. See the image above for an example of a bookable ANA ticket.
Once you find a bookable round-trip ticket, call Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club line at 800-365-9500 and ask the phone representative to put the award ticket on hold for you. Then, transfer the points from Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club once the hold is secured.
Do note that Ultimate Rewards to Virgin Atlantic points transfers are usually instant, so you can book the held award while you’re on the phone with the representative.
Other Ways to Make Your Business Purchases More Rewarding
By now you should know just how valuable credit card points can be for businesses. After all, just 1 new credit card welcome bonus and regular business spend can get you around the world in business class.
But we’re not done making your business expenses more rewarding just yet. There are a few other things you can do to increase points earning on your business expenses, and everything from corporate dining to business travel to everyday expenses can earn more points and miles — you just need to know where to look.
Here are a few more ways you can earn extra points and miles on your regular business expenses. These don’t require a special credit card either, so they can be a good way to get your feet wet with earning travel rewards before you decide to sign up for a new business credit card.
Let’s dive in.
Join Corporate Airline Rewards Programs
Many domestic and international airlines offer corporate airline rewards programs. In short, these free programs give businesses a way to earn money-saving rewards on all of their employee’s travel without impacting the employee’s personal points and miles earning. These points can be redeemed for free flights, upgrades, and other perks like elite status and lounge access.
These programs are pretty simple to sign up for, and only require basic business information like an address, business name, and sometimes an EIN. Make sure to sign up for corporate travel programs for all of the airlines you and your employees fly on the most.
After you sign up, you’ll receive a corporate travel identifier — this identifier can be added to all flight bookings made directly with the airline that runs the program and select partners.
For example, American Airlines’ corporate travel program — Business Extra — assigns a 6-digit Business Extra number. This number can be entered when booking flights on American Airlines, British Airways, and Iberia in the “Business Extra / On Business” field at checkout. See the screenshot above for an example.
Here’s a list of U.S. airlines that offer corporate travel rewards programs:
- American Airlines — Business Extra
- Delta Air Lines — SkyBonus
- JetBlue — Blue Inc.
- Southwest Airlines — SWABIZ
- United Airlines — PerksPlus
Use Shopping Portals for Business Purchases
Shopping portals have long been a great way for both individuals and businesses to earn bonus airline miles, credit card points, and cash-back on everyday purchases.
When you visit a shopping portal and click through its link for a merchant before you make an online purchase, you’ll be rewarded with a certain amount of miles per dollar spent on your purchase. This number varies from merchant to merchant and portal to portal, but you can sometimes earn as much as 15 points per dollar on purchases.
For example, at the time of writing this article, Staples.com purchases earn 3 JetBlue TrueBlue miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Likewise, the Ink Business shopping portal gives 2 points per dollar spent at Staples.com, so you can earn the points and miles that are most valuable to you and your business.
You can find up-to-date shopping portal earning rates on shopping portal aggregator CashBack Monitor’s website. Simply search for the merchant you want to buy from, and you’ll see all of the available shopping portals and their earning rates. Then, you can click on the portal you want to use, sign in with your portal account, and click through to the merchant.
Points and miles from shopping portals will usually post to your loyalty account within a week or 2 of purchase, but it can take longer for some purchases. Most shopping portals let you request missing points and cash-back, too, so don’t worry if it takes a little while for the points to appear in your loyalty account.
With all of this in mind, make sure to check CashBack Monitor for points-earning rates before you make a business purchase online. You can rake in thousands of points per year when you use an airline or credit card portal to make your purchases. No special credit cards are required to use a shopping portal either — you can pay however you’d like.
Enroll in Dining Rewards for Business Lunches, Dinners, and More
Many airline loyalty programs offer dining rewards programs, too. Like shopping portals, these programs let you earn points when you dine at participating restaurants, cafes, bars, and clubs in the U.S. Tens of thousands of restaurants participate in these programs, making it easy for you to earn bonus points and miles when you charge a business meal or catering expense.
Dining rewards programs work a little bit differently than shopping portals, though. Generally, you have to link your business credit card to the dining program on its website. Then, you can view all of the participating restaurants and other establishments on the homepage of the dining rewards program of your choice.
The number of points you’ll earn depends on how much you spend, and there’s usually a set number of points you’ll earn per dollar spent. You can also earn more points by enrolling in email notifications or obtaining elite status with your dining program of choice. Elite status can be earned by dining at participating restaurants a set number of times.
For example, the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Dining program offers 1 point per dollar spent to all members. Members that enroll in email notifications earn 3 points per dollar spent, and those with VIP status earn 5 points per dollar spent. VIP status is earned after dining at participating restaurants 11 times per year.
Hot Tip: Points earned through dining rewards programs don’t affect the points you earn with your credit card, so make sure to link a business credit card that earns bonus points and miles on dining. Cards that offer this include the Ink Business Cash card and the Amex Business Gold card.
Like shopping portals, points earned from dining rewards programs take a bit of time to process your earnings. We’ve found that it takes 10 to 14 days to receive points earned through a majority of the major dining rewards programs.
Most major airlines and hotel chains offer a dining rewards program. Unfortunately, though, you can only earn on 1 dining rewards program at a time — this is because the same company — Rewards Network — runs most of these portals. Make sure to enroll in the program that earns the points you value the most.
Here’s a look at some of the major dining rewards programs:
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan Dining
- American Airlines AAdvantage Dining
- Caesars Rewards Dining
- Delta SkyMiles Dining
- Eat Around Town by Marriott Bonvoy
- Hilton Honors Dining
- IHG Rewards Dining
- JetBlue TrueBlue Dining
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining
- Spirit Airlines Free Spirit Dining
- United MileagePlus Dining
Earn Extra Cash-Back With the Dosh App
Like dining rewards programs, Dosh lets you earn bonus cash-back at select merchants when you link your business credit card to the app. The app partners with restaurants, stores, ridesharing apps, and more to offer cash-back when you make purchases with your linked card. Businesses can enjoy cash-back at stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walmart Grocery (online), Dunkin’ Donuts, Uber, and more.
As you’d expect, earning cash-back with Dosh doesn’t affect the credit card points you earn on purchases. You can link as many cards as you’d like to Dosh, and you can cash out your earnings through an ACH transfer or via PayPal or Venmo.
Most merchants will award cash-back to your Dosh account as soon as you make an in-store or online purchase. However, note that some merchants — namely Uber — require that you tap through the app before you purchase to receive cash-back.
Some restaurants partner with both Dosh and an airline dining rewards program. We’ve found that sometimes you’ll only earn airline miles or hotel points, and sometimes you’ll earn both Dosh cash-back and miles. However, we’ve never seen a case where only Dosh cash-back is earned, so it’s worth trying to double-dip if you can!
Enroll Your Visa Business Credit Cards in Visa SavingsEdge
You can earn even more bonus cash-back by enrolling your Visa small business credit card in Visa SavingsEdge.
Like Dosh, this Visa-powered rewards program automatically gives business owners statement credit on purchases from select merchants. Some supported merchants include Coffee For Less, Microsoft, OfficeFurniture.com, and Register.com. Each of these vendors offers various cash-back for select purchases. Similar to shopping portals, the cash-back amount earned will depend on the merchant and how much you spend.
You can enroll your card instantly on the Visa SavingsEdge website — all you need to do is enter your credit card info and some accompanying account info. Once enrolled, you’ll start earning cash-back whenever you use your Visa business credit card at any of the supported merchants. All cash-back is automatically applied to your credit card account in the form of a statement credit.
Hot Tip: Make sure to add your employees and other authorized user’s business credit cards to Visa SavingsEdge — you’ll each cash-back on all of their purchases, too!
Do note that these offers change from time-to-time, so make sure to keep an eye on the Visa SavingsEdge website for incoming and outgoing merchants.
Earn Bonus United Airlines Miles With the MileagePlus X App
United Airlines fans will love this one. The airline introduced the MileagePlus X app a couple of years ago as a way for consumers and businesses to earn bonus United miles on everyday purchases.
In short, the app lets you instantly buy gift cards to supported merchants. Then, you can use them on-the-spot for in-store transactions, or enter the code online for web purchases. Each supported merchant earns a set amount of United miles per dollar spent through MileagePlus X, so it’s similar to a shopping portal.
Some supported merchants include Staples, The Home Depot, and Uber, amongst others. Many of these merchants are on airline shopping portals as well, so you can earn more points by clicking through a shopping portal and paying for your purchase with a MileagePlus X gift card. This means you’d earn points from your credit card, the shopping portal, and the MileagePlus X app — talk about stacking deals!
One word of warning though: since you’re technically paying for your purchase with a gift card, credit card protections like cell phone insurance, purchase protection, and extended warranty benefits don’t apply. Likewise, a return will be processed to a gift card — not the credit card you used to make the purchase.
With this in mind, we only recommend using MileagePlus X to buy low-value items like office supplies, snacks, and beverages. We generally think that included purchase protection for bigger purchases is more valuable than the extra United miles you’d earn through the app.
Take Advantage of Chase Offers
Chase introduced Chase Offers in 2019 on both its personal and business credit cards. These offers let Chase credit cardholders add special cash-back offers to their credit cards that work at specific merchants. Once added, these offers give you a percentage or set dollar value as cash-back on select purchases when you spend a certain amount of money at the offer’s merchant.
You can view your available Chase Offers on your Chase dashboard. Just log-in, select your business credit card, and look at the left-hand side of the screen. You can add an offer to your card by clicking the Add to card button at the center of the offer. You can expect statement credits earned with Chase Offers will post to your credit card account within a few days of redemption.
Make sure to check the Chase Offers’ terms by clicking on the merchant’s name. This will discuss cash-back limits, minimum required spend, and how many times you can use the offer. This information can come in handy when you’re planning how to use your Chase Offers.
American Express Cardholders Can Use Amex Offers
Opt for an American Express business card instead? No worries — you can take advantage of Amex Offers!
These work the same as Chase Offers, but we’ve found that Amex Offers generally have better merchants, higher earning rates, and higher spending limits than their Chase counterparts. We’ve seen Amex Offers from Amazon, Staples, and FedEx in the past, and new offers are released almost every month.
Further, some Amex Offers let you earn bonus Membership Rewards points on your purchases instead. Like cash-back offers, you usually have to spend a certain amount of money at the specified merchant in order to receive the points.
You can view and add your available Amex Offers to your American Express business card by logging into your American Express account and selecting your business card. Then, scroll to the bottom of the screen and find your available offers underneath the Amex Offers & Benefits heading at the bottom of the page.
You can view the Amex Offers’ terms and conditions by clicking on the arrow to the left of the offers’ name. Then, add the offer to your account by clicking the Add to Card button on the right-hand side of the Amex Offer. You can use your Amex Offer immediately and the bonus Membership Rewards points or cash-back will post to your account within a few days of making a purchase.
Book Client-Reimbursable Hotel Rooms Through Rocketmiles
Finally, we have Rocketmiles, a hotel booking platform that partners with a handful of different airlines to offer bonus miles on hotel bookings. You can use this to earn bonus points on hotel stays for you or your employees, and it’s especially lucrative when booking client-reimbursable hotel rooms for meetings and events.
We’ve found that Rocketmiles hotel pricing is usually similar or identical to other online travel agencies or when booking directly through the hotel. However, it never hurts to double-check — especially when you’re booking a hotel stay that isn’t reimbursable.
One thing to note, though. You’re generally not able to earn hotel points or use elite status benefits when booking hotels through Rocketmiles or another online travel agency. So, make sure to gauge if the miles you’d earn from Rocketmiles are more valuable than hotel points you’d otherwise earn.
We almost always recommend booking independent and boutique hotel stays. These types of hotels don’t usually participate in hotel loyalty programs, meaning that Rocketmiles may be your only way to earn points on these stays.
The number of points you’ll earn through Rocketmiles depends on your stay. You’ll generally earn more miles when booking sponsored or more expensive hotels. Likewise, different loyalty programs will earn different amounts of points, so make sure to cross-check your favorite loyalty programs.
Using Rocketmiles is simple. Just head over to the website and enter your hotel stay details. This includes the dates you’d like to stay, your destination, and the number of people on your reservation. Then, make sure to select the loyalty program you’d like to earn with — many major U.S. and international airlines are supported, and you can also opt to earn Amazon and Uber gift cards.
You can view all available hotels, their rates, and the number of points you’ll earn at the center of the website. There are filtering options at the top of the screen, too, so it’s easy to find hotels that fit your needs. When you find a hotel that suits you, click on it and you’ll be taken to the booking screen where you can enter payment details and your airline loyalty number.
And that’s all there is to it! We highly recommend using Rocketmiles to book hotel rooms that you otherwise wouldn’t earn points on. Plus, make sure to pay for your stay with a business credit card that earns bonus points on travel like the Ink Business Preferred card to further increase your points earning.
In this article, we showed you the ins-and-outs of earning points on business purchases by using a business credit card. We also took a look at various other ways to earn points and gave you a quick look at a handful of awesome points redemptions that you can make with your newly minted points.
Remember, using the right credit card on your business purchases can have a real impact on your business’ bottom line. You can use points to cover expensive work trips, provide employee incentives, or even take an awesome family vacation on the cheap.
Due to Chase’s 5/24 rule, we highly recommend starting with a card from the Ink Business suite. The Ink Business Preferred card should be your starting point, and then consider adding an Ink Business Unlimited card or Ink Business Cash card to earn even more points. Meet the welcome bonus first, and then make sure that you’re allocating your business purchases to the cards that will earn you the most points.
After this, you may want to explore American Express business credit cards. Our favorite Amex business card — the Amex Business Platinum — earns a ton of points on flights booked through Amex Travel, and also has great benefits like airport lounge access, airline fee credits, and a Dell.com shopping credit. You’ll quickly find that this card is an extremely valuable addition to your wallet if you travel a lot.
Now it’s your turn. How does your business maximize its purchases? Let us know in the comments below — we’re excited to hear from you!
The information regarding the United Club℠ Business Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Chase Freedom Unlimited® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
Featured Image Credit: Bram Naus via Unsplash
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