Searching for ways to get value from your miles and points can be a tedious task, especially if you have miles in numerous programs. I currently have miles with American, United, and Delta, so searching once instead of three times can be a time saver.
PointHub is one of the free tools out there to help consolidate your searches. It has a really easy to use interface with lots of customization and sorting options, making it a great starting point. Basically, it searches on major airlines’ websites to show you what award seats there are (based only on what is loaded on the airline’s website, which may not include partner awards or other options only available by calling) and how many miles each option costs.
Because it seems to be limited to whatever reward availability is loaded directly onto an airline website, it generally does best with domestic awards. It’s convenient to see multiple airlines all listed on one search tool, rather than seeking each airline’s options out individually.
Searching for an award flight to Billings, MT in August resulted in finding NO low-level (25,000 points) award space for the dates I wanted, but did show some options on multiple airlines.
PointHub will also recommend when to use miles versus when to pay with cash. Essentially, it’s assigning a monetary value to each point and then doing a quick comparison to see if the total value of the miles is greater or less than the cost of the ticket in dollars. Whether you ultimately decide to use miles or points should be based on how you value your miles (do the math!) and what your personal circumstances are, such as if you are short on cash or if you are saving your miles for a larger future trip.
While these are handy features, there is one main reason why I like PointHub. I find it faster to check on mileage costs using a PointHub search than by going to each airline’s reward charts (some redemptions I know by heart, but many I have to look up). Delta considers Morocco as part of “Europe” but American considers it part of Africa, making for two very different mileage requirements that are instantly seen on PointHub. Plus, it includes some airlines where I might not consider checking since I don’t have miles (such as Air Canada’s Aeroplan). The upside to this? You might be able to transfer credit card points (such as AmEx Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards points) to these airlines even if you don’t normally collect miles through those airlines – giving you lots of options to redeem your points.
The biggest downfall to this website is that it doesn’t include any availability for rewards not shown on an airline’s website. For example, I could use my American Airlines miles to fly on Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, but since AA doesn’t hold Cathay Pacific reward inventory online (you have to call), it won’t show up on a PointHub search. This is a significant issue because availability at a low-mileage level could exist for your desired itinerary even without showing up in your search results.
Another feature that I’d like to see is more participating airlines. Currently, there’s no way to search for British Airways awards on PointHub, and that would be a great addition considering that you can transfer credit card points easily into the Avios program for award redemptions.
PointHub is also a great start when searching point for hotels. In this scenario, their search function is much more complete since all award availability can typically be found online with no “hidden” inventory only accessible by phoning to book an award. A few caveats: it only shows straight reward bookings (no point + cash options) and Hilton / Hyatt points are missing from their reward search (it will show cash purchase options but no rewards). However, if you’re looking to decide between Priority Club, SPG, and Marriott, you’re all set.
I hope that PointHub strengthens its searching power to include more airlines and hotels in the future because I think they have a great start.