July 27, 2016 - Austin Grandt
Every traveler I know seems to have miles scattered across multiple programs. Remember those flights you took with United when you were in college? It could be worth something if you have enough.
With so many frequent flyer, hotel, and credit card points it can be hard to figure out how to best utilize the points you have saved up over the years. While there are tons of blogs dedicated to this very topic, Award Ace has taken a different approach. They built an online app that helps you figure out what mileage program is best for the location you want to travel to. Instead of having to sift through multiple airlines' (archaic) redemption charts, they made the process a breeze.
Huge Ma, the founder of Award Ace built the site after feeling the pain of finding the best deal from multiple award charts. He is obsessed with getting the best deal, but having to compare tons of programs together made it an incredibly long process when finding an award flight. After working on it a lot of nights and weekends, he had the database he needed to launch award ace.
After doing my first simple search on Award Ace, I immediately enjoyed the easy to understand interface. Green signals that a redemption is a good value. Red means that you might want to save your points for another time with that particular program. Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points allow for transfers to their partners, normally at a 1:1 ratio. What this means is that redemptions now become an order of magnitude more complex as you now have many options to better optimize your points.
This is where the grid comes. The grid allows you to quickly find sweet spots in programs across the globe to save your miles. Saving 5,000-10,000 miles over the course of a couple years will add up to some pretty significant savings.
If you are new to travel hacking or collecting miles, you should look at Award Ace's database of programs. They provide a nice overview of each program's pros, cons, and transfer partners. It can be really helpful when trying to figure out what carrier you want to bank miles towards and who might be a good options to bank miles with in the future.
There's no right way to do miles and points. For example: booking cash tickets should totally be a part of any travel hacker's arsenal. Flights are cheaper than ever (thanks to record-low prices of oil)—it can sometimes pay to purchase flights outright and redeem points for cash. This way you can actually earn points for flying!- Huge Ma, founder of Award Ace
If you don't know exactly where you want to go yet, but want to see how far your miles can take you make sure to check out Award Ace's discover tool. All you have to do is select your program of choice and how many miles you have. The map then loads some of the best value destinations based on the number of miles in your account. It's very visually appealing and gives a nice perspective of the options you have with your mileage bank.
I suspect that as travel hacking and mileage churning becomes more popular, similar tools will come to the market. For frequent flyers, these types of tools are an amazing way to better utilize our miles and get out on the road more. Award Ace is one of the first movers in this new category and I suggest everyone go try the site out for yourself if you are planning an award trip in the near future.