Buying Points and Miles

Details on when it's worth buying points and miles. Get the cost of buying points and miles for airlines, hotels, and other rewards programs.

The most common reason for buying points and miles is to top off your account when you're a few rewards shy of a redemption. This can be beneficial when transferring rewards to your account isn't an option (or isn't the best option). There are also some instances in which buying points or miles can save you money if done right. This will typically occur when points can be purchased on sale for a price that is at or lower than the average redemption value.

Do note that the price of buying points and miles can change at any time. It's best to log into your account and find out how much points and miles will cost you before making a final decision. This will also show whether or not they are on sale.

When To Buy Points and Miles

Buying points or miles is frowned upon in the credit card rewards world because the cost in which you purchase the rewards is usually a lot higher than the average value you can redeem them for. There are many rewards programs in which buying points and miles will almost never benefit you unless it is to top off your account, but there are several in which buying rewards can actually benefit you... some easier than others. I'll cover examples of when buying points and miles make sense to do.

Top Off Your Account

Topping off your account is the most common reason to buy points and miles. If you're a few points or miles short and transferring rewards to your account isn't an option, it may be well worth it to buy a small stack of points or miles.

For example, say you to book a 5-night stay at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida (a favorite of mine). This will typically cost you 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points.

If you only had 236,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points, there's really only two things you could do if you wanted to fill in that 4,000 point gap:

  • Transfer Rewards To Your Account Using Partners
  • Buy 4,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points

Transfer Rewards To Your Account Using Partners

Marriott Bonvoy has a few transfer partners meaning you can earn points with other rewards programs and then transfer those earned rewards directly into your Marriott Bonvoy account. For example, you can transfer AMEX Membership Rewards Points directly to your Marriott Bonvoy account. You'll always want to check to see if a program has transfer partners because you might have points that you can transfer which can save you some money if you feel like the transfer is worth it.

Buying 4,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points

Buying 4,000 points is the most straightforward way to solve the point shortage. Buying 4,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points would cost you $50 since it costs 1.25 cents per point at the standard rate. There are several times per year in which Marriott Bonvoy Points can be purchases on sale, so it may even cost you less depending on when you buy them. Regardless of the cost per point, you'll have to decide for yourself if buying them is better than the options you're left with if you don't buy them.

buy 4,000 promo
Marriott Points are on sale several times per year which can make it even more worth buying points.

Transferring Rewards vs Buying Rewards

If you have the option to do both, you'll have to figure out which is the best approach for you. Most will go the route of transferring rewards because transferring rewards will typically cost you $0 (there are a few exceptions) whereas buying points or miles will of course cost you money. You'll also have to consider the points you're transferring and the value of your redemption.

For example, let's say you value Chase Ultimate Rewards Points at 2 cents each. If you're transferring points to Marriott for a redemption that's giving you 0.7 cents each, you probably would be better of buying Marriott Bonvoy Points and saving your Chase Points for your 2-cent redemptions. But lets say you found a sweet spot in the Marriott program and you're redemption is giving you 2.5 cents in value. This would be a good time to transfer your Chase Points because you'll be redeeming them for excellent value through the Marriott Bonvoy program.

So you'll want to weigh your options to see which one is best for you and how you use your rewards.

Save Money On Bookings

There are times in which you can buy points and miles when they're on sale and save a great deal of money on bookings. This can happen with any program if you find great redemption value in which you can buy points or miles and redeem them at a higher value, but this mostly applies to hotel programs such as:

  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • World of Hyatt
  • Choice Privileges

When hotel rewards points are on sale, they're typically being sold at a value close to the average value. This gives you some wiggle room for redemptions that are higher than the average value and can provide some great deals. Just remember that you'll always want to run the numbers before you purchase points and miles. Never buy rewards without having a plan unless you for sure know you can redeem them for higher than what you bought them (and that's technically still having a plan).

As an example, let's consider IHG's 80% more promo. This is one of IHG's better promos (and they've had promos even better than this one) that will give you 80% bonus points on top of the points you purchase. Let's assume a 2-day weekend booking at one of my favorite IHG Hotels, the Holiday Inn Express & Suite: Tampa East - Ybor City. This will typically run you about $400 to $450 after taxes and is a pretty much always a great value for IHG Points (when you can find availability that is).

ihg ybor city may 2020
This particular booking is $410 total with taxes and fees.

This property typically costs 20,000 IHG Points per night meaning a 2-night stay will cost you 40,000 IHG Points. Let's pretend that I have 0 IHG points and that this hotel fits the bill for what I want to do in or around Ybor City whether it's a family event or fun time with friends. For this redemption, I could dish out $410 or I could buy 40,000 IHG Points. With the IHG 80% More Promo, I could buy 23,000 IHG Points and get a bonus 18,400 bonus points which would give me a little over 40,00 IHG Points for a total cost of $238.05. Is paying $238.05 better than paying $410 or more for a 2-night stay at this hotel? Of course it is.

The 80% more IHG promo is a prime time to buy.

So buying enough IHG Points for a 2-night stay during this sale would save me $171. While I don't buy points or miles often, it's deals like these that makes me at least check to see if buying rewards will benefit me. There's always a handful of times per year in which checking brings me great savings.

What About Points Earned From The Stay?

A common argument to buying points or miles is that if you paid cash, you would have earned points or miles on the stay/flight anyway. This is something you'll want to consider, BUT you should typically only buy rewards when you can get a good amount of value out of your redemption. The redemption in the previous example saves $171. No matter your IHG elite status level, IHG promotion, or credit card you use, you would not earn anywhere near $171 in rewards that would make paying cash for a stay the better option in this case.

Buying points and miles to save money on bookings should save you a decent deal of money. It's equal to buying something for cheap and then selling it for high. If you were to find a tablet on sale for $300 that normally sells for $500, you could make close to a $200 profit re-selling it. You wouldn't buy the tablet for $490 and hope that you can sell it for $550 or sell it for $500 any make nothing (or lose money after taxes). This is how you should treat buying points or miles and using them for bookings. Have a plan first and buy the points and miles once it makes sense to do so. The amount of points or miles you can earn from a booking/flight should never be a question if it's a great deal.

What About Airline Miles?

Airline miles are typically more expensive than hotel rewards points and the sales are usually not as grand. That's not to say that you can't find great deals in buying large amounts of airline miles, but finding them will be a lot harder specifically for standard/economy flights. For Business/First class tickets, it's not that hard to buy miles and redeem them for higher value because these type of tickets usually give your miles significantly high value. Buying airline miles for upper class redemptions is not a route I would personally take myself, but I can still provide an example in which you can buy miles on sale and redeem them for high value.

As an example, let's look at Business/First class flights on United from Atlanta to Rome, Italy during the summer. We'll use United's 85% more promotion when it comes to buying miles.

Looking at Business/First class, these tickets are going to be on the expensive side costing you between $3,368 and $4,668 round-trip.

united atlanta to rome cash prices
Flights range from $3,368 to $4,668. Quite expensive.

Jumping over to United Miles, you can generally find one-way flights for around 70,000 United Miles in each direction. Here's the cost in miles from Atlanta to Rome (one-way):

united atlanta to rome united miles
You'll end up dishing out around 70k United Miles to get there.

And flying back from Rome to Atlanta is a little cheaper in some instances even though you'll have to dish out a little more in taxes/fees.

united atlanta to rome united miles
Flying back will cost you 60k-70k United Miles.

So overall, this flight would cost 130k-140k United Miles plus around $80-$100 in taxes depending on the flight.

During the United 85% bonus miles promotion, you can buy United Miles for as cheap as 2.03 cents each. This means you can buy 140,000 United Miles for $2,859.50 which saves between $500 and $1,800 depending on flights listed.

Buying miles for this flight is the cheaper option than paying cash.

If you were planning on paying cash, buying United Miles in this instance would easily be the money saving route. There's many ways you can go about earning United Miles via credit card sign up bonuses, spending with partners, and transferring points which will be cheaper options (typically), but it can take a while to build up a large amount of United Miles. So buying them is an instant option if that's a route you want to take.

High-end and High-cost Properties

This technically falls under the previous section of 'Save Money On Bookings', but it's more geared towards holiday travel and stays at high-end properties where as the previous section was just general buying for low and redeeming for high. For high-end and high-cost properties, you can get great value even when points aren't on sale when it comes to some bookings.

Holidays

During the holidays or peak-travel times, hotel and airfare tends to become a little pricey. For the most part, some loyalty programs do not increase the cost in rewards (at least right away) which gives you the opportunity to buy points and miles to save money on a booking.

marriott new years price
Buying points for these hotels would be the better option.

The most popular example includes stays during the New Years holiday. Looking at some Marriott hotels around Times Square, it will run you as much as $609 per night or 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points. At the standard rate, Marriott Bonvoy Points will cost you 1.25 cents each. That means purchasing 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points would cost you $437.50 which is cheaper than paying $550-$600 per night. If you were planning on paying cash, this is one of those prime opportunities in which buying points would be the better option. If you're able to wait for one of Marriott's buy points promos, you'll save even more money.

buy 35000 Marriott Bonvoy Points on sale
Buying Marriott Points on sale would save even more!

For example, Marriott Points have been sold for as low as 0.875 cents each. You could buy 35,000 points for $306.25 and save $260 to $300+ staying at New York Times Square hotels.

High-End Properties

Using points to pay for high-end properties is another way to get great value out of your points. Properties in places like Bora Bora or the Maldives can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars per night. Using rewards points to cover properties at these destinations is typically the best route to take if you want to really get some bang out of your points while experiencing a luxury, high-class stay.

Most programs only allow you to buy a certain amount of points per calendar year, so you'll really only be buying points to top off your account. For example, if you have a future plan to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Maldives, Fari Islands you might start working on building up Marriott Bonvoy Points. After earning a few credit card sign up bonuses and running spend through credit cards over a few months, you end up with 270,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points. Do you buy the last 70,000 points you need or keep working on building points? It's hard to say. The cost in points for the hotel could go up at anytime, so you have to figure out if it's worth taking that risk to take more time for earning points.

Personally, I would end up topping off my account and buying the 70,000 points. This particular redemption gives Marriott Bonvoy Points about 2.1 cent in value. At the standard rate, this would cost me $875 but I would be redeeming them for $1,470 in value for this stay. I could also wait until Marriott Bonvoy Points are on sale, but again... waiting can be risky and is not something I would personally wait for, especially if they've already had a sale within the past month or two.

Buy Rewards Using TopCashback

If you want to earn additional cash back on top of the points and miles you're purchasing, TopCashback offers cash when buying rewards with several programs. Those programs are:

  • Hilton Honors Points
  • United Airlines Miles
  • Hyatt Points
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue Miles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue Points
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
  • Wyndham Rewards Points
  • Melia Rewards
  • British Airways Avios
  • Alaska Airlines Miles
  • Marriott Bonvoy Points
  • IHG Rewards Points

Cashback portals are easy to use, free to use, and free to sign up for. Once you sign up for a TopCashback account, you can search for Points.com and click the 'Get Cashback' on the points you want to buy. The site will then drop you off on the Buy Points page of the program you selected and you'll purchase points as normal. Once you buy the points, TopCashback will be notified and you'll receive cash back in your TopCashback account.

Use TopCashback to earn cash back when buying points/miles from rewards programs that use Points.com.

Cost To Buy Hotel Points

Hotel rewards points are probably the easiest point to get great value out of when it comes to buying points on sale. When buying points at the standard rate, it'll be a little harder to justify buying points outside of topping off your account.

Listed below are the details on buying hotel points with popular hotel rewards programs. The prices listed are the standard rates. You can click on 'Buy Points' to be taken to that programs buy points portal.

Buying Choice Privileges Points

Choice Privileges Points will cost you between 0.99 and 1.21 cents at the standard rate. The more points you buy in a single transaction, the cheaper the price and better the deal. You can buy as little as 1,000 Choice Points for $12.10 and as many as 180,000 Choice Points for $1,782 in a single transaction. You can buy up to 180,000 Points per calendar year.

Buying Choice Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 4,000 Points 1.21 cents
5,000 - 9,000 Points 1.1 cents
10,000 - 120,000 Points 0.99 cents
Buy Choice Points

Buying Hilton Honors Points

Hilton Honors Points will cost you 1 cent per point at the standard rate. This will be the cost no matter how many points you buy in a single transaction. You can buy as little as 1,000 Hilton Honors Points for $10 or as many as 80,000 Hilton Honors Points for $800 in a single transaction. You can buy up to a total of 80,000 Hilton Honors Points per calendar year.

Buying Hilton Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 80,000 Points 1 Cent
Buy Hilton Points

Buying Hyatt Points

Hyatt Points will cost you 2.4 cent per point at the standard rate. This will be the cost no matter how many points you buy in a single transaction. You can buy as little as 1,000 Hyatt Points for $24 or as many as 55,000 Hyatt Points for $1,320. You can buy a total of 55,000 Hyatt Points per calendar year. When Hyatt Points are on sale, it's very easy to get great value when buying them.

Buying Hyatt Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000-55,000 Points 2.4 Cents
Buy Hyatt Points

Buying IHG Points

IHG Points will cost you between 1 and 1.35 cents at the standard rate depending on how many you buy. You'll get the best value of 1 cent each when you buy at least 26,000 IHG Points. You can buy as little as 1,000 IHG Points for $13.50 or as many as 150,000 Points for $1,500 in a single transaction. You can buy up to a total of 150,000 IHG Points per calendar year and receive as a gift a maximum of 150,000 points per calendar year.

Buying IHG Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 10,000 Points 1.35 Cents
11,000 - 25,000 Points 1.15 Cents
26,000 - 150,000 Points 1 Cent
Buy IHG Points

Buying Marriott Bonvoy Points

Marriott Bonvoy Points will cost you 1.25 cents per point at the standard price. This will be the case no matter how many points you buy in a single transaction. You can buy as little as 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points for $12.50 or as many as 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points for $1,250. You can buy up or receive as a gift a combined maximum of 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per calendar year.

Buying Marriott Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 100,000 Points 1.25 Cents
Buy Marriott Points

Buying Wyndham Points

Wyndham Points can be purchased for 1.3 cents per point. This is the flat rate no matter how many points you purchase. You can buy as little as 1,000 Wyndham Rewards Points for $13 and as many as 45,000 Wyndham Rewards Points for $585 in a single transaction. You can purchase up to a limit of 45,000 Wyndham Rewards Points per calendar year.

Buying Wyndham Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 45,000 Points 1.3 Cents
Buy Wyndham Points

Cost To Buy Airline Miles

The best reason for buying airline miles will typically be to top off your frequent flyer account if transferring rewards to your account isn't an option. Buying large amounts of miles will often not result in great value unless you have some great redemption lined up and ready to be redeemed.

Listed below are the details on buying airline miles with popular frequent flyer programs. The prices listed are the standard rates. You can click on 'Buy Miles' to be taken to that program's buy miles portal.

Buying Alaska Miles

Alaska Miles can be purchases for 2.75 cents per mile. This is the cost no matter how many you purchase at once. You can buy as little as 1,000 Alaska Miles for $27.50 or as many as 60,000 for $1,650 in a single transaction. You can buy up to a max of 60,000 miles per calendar year if you don't have Alaska MVP status. If you do have status with Alaska Airlines, there's no cap on how many you can buy per year.

Buying Alaska Miles
Miles Purchased Cost Per Mile
1,000 - 60,000 Miles 2.75 Cents
Buy Alaska Miles

Buying AA AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines miles will cost you between 1.85 cents and 3.95 cents each depending on how many miles you purchase in a single transaction. You can purchase as little as 2,000 AAdvantage Miles for $79 and as many as 150,000 AAdvantage Miles for $2,775 in a single transaction. You can buy up to 150,000 AAdvantage Miles per calendar year.

Buying AAdvantage Miles
Miles Purchased Discount Cost Per Mile
2,000 - 5,000 Miles None 2.99 - 3.95 Cents
6,000 - 14,000 Miles 10% Off 2.69 Cents
15,000 - 69,000 Miles 30% Bonus Miles, 10% Off 2.23 - 2.37 Cents
70,000 - 149,000 Miles 50% Bonus Miles, 10% Off 1.91 - 1.93 Cents
150,000 Miles 55% Bonus Miles, 10% Off 1.85 Cents
Buy AAdvantage Miles

Buying Delta SkyMiles

Delta SkyMiles will cost you 3.5 cents per mile no matter how many miles you purchase. On top of that, you will also pay taxes which make the real purchase price come out to 3.76 cents per mile. You can buy as little as 2,000 SkyMiles for $70 (plus tax) and as many as 60,000 SkyMiles for $2,100 (plus tax) in a single transaction. You can purchase a total of 60,000 Delta SkyMiles per calendar year.

Buying Delta SkyMiles
Miles Purchased Cost Per Mile
1,000 - 60,000 SkyMiles 3.5 Cents
3.76 Cents After Taxes
Buy Delta SkyMiles

Buying JetBlue Points

JetBlue Points will cost you between 2.75 cents and 3.51 cents per point based on how many you buy. The more you buy, the better the price. You can buy as little as 1,000 JetBlue Points for $35.10 and as many as 30,000 JetBlue Points for $825 in a single transaction. You cannot buy or receive as a gift more than a total of 120,000 TrueBlue Points in a calendar year.

JetBlue Points Cost
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
1,000 - 2,000 Points 3.51 Cents
3,000 - 4,000 Points 3.38 Cents
5,000 - 9,000 Points 3.21 Cents
10,000 - 14,000 Points 2.98 Cents
15,000 - 30,000 Points 2.75 Cents
Buy JetBlue Points

Buying Southwest Points

The standard cost of Southwest Points will range from 2.75 to 3 cents. In order to get the best price, you'll need to buy at least 6,000 Southwest Points. You can buy as little as 2,000 Southwest Points for $60 and as many as 60,000 Southwest Points for $1,650 per transaction. You cannot buy or receive as a gift more than a total of 60,000 Southwest Points in a calendar year.

Buying Southwest Points
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
2,000 - 5,000 Points 3 Cents
6,000 - 60,000 Points 2.75 Cents
Buy Southwest Points

Buying United Miles

At the standard rate, United Miles costs 3.5 cents per mile. This is a flat rate cost and it doesn't matter how many miles you buy. You can buy as little as 2,000 miles for $70 and as many as 87,000 miles for $3,045 in a single transaction. You can buy up to a total of 175,000 United Miles per calendar year which would cost a grand total of $6,125 at the standard rate.

Buying United Miles
Points Purchased Cost Per Point
2,000 - 120,000 Miles 3.5 Cents
Buy United Miles

Buying Other Rewards

You can buy points and miles for a lot more programs than what is just listed above. Below are links to the 'buy points/miles' page for other rewards programs. All links will open up in a new tab.

Program Standard Rate Buy
Transit Programs
Amtrak
Amtrak Guest Rewards
3.77¢ each Buy Points
Hotel Loyalty Programs
Melía Hotels
Melía Rewards Points
EUR 0.36¢ each Buy Points
Radisson Hotels
Radisson Rewards Points
0.7¢ each Buy Points
Airline Frequent Flyer Programs
Air France-KLM
Flying Blue Miles
2.75¢ each Buy Miles
Alitalia Airlines
Millemiglia Miles
EUR 2.5¢ each Buy Miles
Avianca Airlines
LifeMiles
3.3¢ each Buy Miles
British Airways
Avios
2.78¢ - 5.3¢ each Buy Avios
Emirates
Skywards Miles
3¢ each Buy Miles
Ethiopian Airlines
Sheba Miles
2.5¢ each Buy Miles
Etihad
Etihad Guest Miles
2¢ each Buy Miles
Eva Air
Eva Air Bonus Miles
4¢ each Buy Miles
Finnair
FinnairPlus Points
EUR 1.28¢ each Buy Points
Frontier Airlines
Frontier Miles
2.5¢ each Buy Miles
Garuda Indonesia
Garuda Airline Miles
1.93¢ each Buy Miles
Hawaiian Airlines
HawaiianMiles
2.96¢ each Buy Miles
LATAM
Multiplus Points
R$70 for 1k
Brazilian Real
Buy Points
Malaysia Airlines
Enrich Privileges Miles
2.5¢ each
MYR$ 103.92 for 1k
Buy Miles
Qantas
Qantas Points
2.3¢ - 4.9¢ AUD
Australian Dollar
Buy Points
Qatar
Qmiles
3.5¢ each Buy Miles
Singapore Airlines
KrisFlyer Miles
4¢ each Buy Miles
Thai Air
Royal Orchid Plus Miles
4¢ each
THB$1,200 for 1k
Buy Miles
Turkish Air
Buy Miles & Smiles
3¢ each Buy Miles
Virgin Atlantic
Flying Club Miles
EUR 1.5¢ each Buy Miles
Virgin Australia
Velocity Points
3.6¢ each Buy Points

Buying Miles FAQ

Is it a good idea to buy points or miles?

It's a good idea when you need to top off your account or when you can buy them and redeem them for a higher value than what you paid for them.

How much does it cost to buy points and miles?

No point or mile is created equal. Buying points and miles can range from as low as 0.5 cents up to 3+ cents. It will heavily depend on the program.

Should I top off my account buy buying rewards or transfer rewards to my account?

This will depend on how much you value the rewards you're transferring versus how much buying rewards will cost you. For example, if I can redeem Membership Rewards Points for 2+ cents each, I wouldn't transfer them to Hilton in which points average 0.6 cents each. I would just buy Hilton Points if I needed a few (especially if they were on sale).

Updated 2021-02-02 By Robert Flowers III

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