MileWise: Like Kayak for Frequent Flyers

Find the best fare or award ticket option with a single search! 

The Frequent Miler blog tends to focus much more on earning miles than on using them.  Like many of you, I read One Mile at a Time, View From the Wing, and The Points Guy in order to learn the ins and outs of award travel.  But still, finding the best options is hard and time consuming.  That’s why I’m pretty psyched about a fairly new service called MileWise that is doing its best to make award travel easy.

If you signup for a MileWise account, you can optionally enter in your reward programs (sort of like Award Wallet) so that MileWise can show results customized to your situation.  However, even without doing this, I’ve found MileWise searches to be extremely easy and valuable.  For example, I searched for a last minute trip from Detroit to Lihue, Kauai to see what it would do.  The neat thing is that in one display, MileWise shows the best award redemption options and paid options.


MileWise sorts the results according to the estimated cost of each option.  I really like this part: when calculating the estimated total cost of a paid option, MileWise factors in the value of the miles you would earn with that option.  Here’s an example:


Similarly, it sorts the award results according to the estimated value of the miles or points you would spend.  For example, it may show that you can use fewer Starwood points than Continental miles to reach your destination, but it still might list Continental as a better option since MileWise values Starwood points more highly.

Another great feature is how incredibly easy it is to change the search criteria and filter the results.  You can even ask for “flexible dates” to get a great calendar view showing the best options for different departure and return dates.

Not Perfect… Yet

Currently there are a number of issues with MileWise that keep it from being a perfect tool.  Here are a few that I’m aware of:

  • American Airlines is not yet represented (yikes!)
  • Partner redemptions are not yet included (this is a near fatal blow…)
  • There is currently no option to search “nearby airports” (I could live without this one, but it would be nice)
  • The values that MileWise assign to the miles of various programs do not necessarily match up with your circumstances (especially important will be to account for the value of elite qualifying miles for programs in which one is working towards elite status)

Luckily, MileWise says it is working on all of these issues.  You can read more in the MileWise forum on FlyerTalk.  To me, this is already a very useful tool, but if they address the issues listed above, it will be near perfect.

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  1. I dunno if I’d call $879 to Kauai a “100/100” great deal. Maybe it’s an okay fare, but my opinions are biased by the mistake fares I see every now and then, so I wouldn’t go as far to call it a slam dunk.

    Those caveats you list are pretty big. It would be nice if, as you entered each account you could also assign your own value to the points. I also worry that it gives too many options with all the different airlines and FF accounts.

    • Scottrick: Yeah, I didn’t mean to imply that the Kauai options were good deals. It’s more that I’m excited to see all lots of award redemption and price options in one search result. This can save a lot of time when looking for award travel. BTW, they say that they will soon allow people to enter their own values for points!

  2. Well this certainly raised an interesting point that I had never considered. I set up an account and just entered my Delta Skymiles and SPG points and entered ATL to AUA which is a trip I currently have booked already to see what it came up with. While first class Delta seats were 120,000 through Delta directly,the 1st class seats via SPG (I did not realize you could book through SPG) was only 80,000. Is it always better to book through SPG instead of directly with Delta (given the fact that one has enough SPG points)? Additionally, does SPG consider this a “transfer” of points and therefore award you the 25% bonus like they do if you transfer points directly to Delta? Hmmmmmmmmmm, interesting!

  3. @Pointsasaurous-

    It isn’t always better to book through SPG directly. It just so happens the cash cost of the seat you wanted was about $800 so SPG priced lower than what Delta did. Delta’s ‘low’ reward is 60,000 miles for that trip – if it’s available.

    The SPG reward you’re seeing is not a transfer, so no bonus, but the ticket would earn SkyMiles as if you had purchased it in cash.

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