The Best Way to Use Points for Cheap Flights to Kenya

Save your money for the safari
The Best Way to Use Points for Cheap Flights to Kenya


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What are travel credit cards, and how do they work?

Travel credit cards are financial products that offer various rewards and benefits geared towards frequent travelers. They typically earn you points or miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses. Travel credit cards may also include perks like travel insurance, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.

How do I choose the best travel credit card for my needs?

Choosing the best travel credit card depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences. Consider factors like the type of rewards offered (points, miles, or cash back), the card’s annual fee, sign-up bonuses, earning rates, redemption options, and additional travel perks. Analyzing these features will help you find a card that aligns with your lifestyle and offers the most value.

What are the benefits of using a travel credit card over other types of credit cards?

Travel credit cards provide unique advantages for travelers, such as earning rewards specifically tailored to travel expenses. Additionally, many travel credit cards offer travel-related perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and travel insurance. Some cards also waive foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for international travelers.

What is a sign-up bonus, and how can I qualify for it?

A sign-up bonus is a promotional offer provided by the credit card issuer to entice new cardholders. To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you usually need to meet specific spending requirements within a certain timeframe after opening the account. The bonus can be in the form of points, miles, or cash back, and it’s a great way to jump-start your rewards earning.

Do travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees?

Not all travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. Many of the top-tier travel cards waive these fees, making them ideal for international travel. However, it’s essential to read the card’s terms and conditions to confirm this before using it abroad.

How can I maximize the rewards earned with my travel credit card?

To maximize rewards, use your travel credit card for everyday expenses and large purchases. Take advantage of bonus categories and special promotions to earn more points or miles. Consider combining your travel credit card with loyalty programs to stack rewards and get even more value out of your purchases.

Kenya is the stuff of travel dreams. Its sprawling savannahs, teeming with the world’s most sought-after wildlife, and kaleidoscopic tribal culture make it a destination unlike any other. But finding flights to Kenya that don’t break the bank can be an adventure in itself.

While Nairobi airport is by no means a quiet hub, it’s considerably smaller and less connected than comparably popular destinations in Europe and Asia. This means flights to Kenya are less frequent and usually require at least one layover. If you’re hoping for direct flights to Kenya, your only hope is in New York City, where you’ll hop on a 14-hour flight with Kenya Airways.

But just because a place is more challenging to get to doesn’t mean we can’t work some points magic. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to use points for cheap flights to Kenya.

Finding the best programs for points flights to Kenya

Currently, there’s only one direct flight from the US to Nairobi. Unless you’re from NYC or happy to do a positioning flight, the rest of the flights to Kenya will require a layover. It’s a good idea to do a traditional search in Google Flights or Skyscanner and see where most of the flights route through.

A quick search for flights to Kenya shows places like Doha, Amsterdam, Addis Ababa, and Istanbul as major layover spots, so it’s a good idea to look for points and miles that can get you flying with those hubs’ big airlines. Here are a few of the options.

Using Virgin Atlantic for flights to Kenya

Virgin Atlantic offers one of the best redemption offers for flights to Kenya. Utilizing its partners Kenya Airways and KLM, it’s possible to fly from New York to Nairobi for as little as 24,000 points. You will have to pay around $200 in taxes and fees, as is normal with Virgin, but it still works out to be a tremendous deal.

To redeem the same flight in cash one-way could be around $676, so you get almost 2 cents per point with this redemption. With just one layover in Amsterdam before heading south, it’s not a terrible route.

How to earn enough Virgin points

The good news is that Virgin points are incredibly easy to earn. Most of the major credit card issuers allow transfers to the airline’s loyalty program, so you don’t need to worry about flying with the British carrier regularly. Best of all, Virgin regularly runs transfer bonuses, giving you even better value for your redemptions.

Here are some cards you could open to cover your flights to Kenya.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card​

The Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is an outstanding product to have in your wallet. Not only is its 75,000-mile intro bonus capable of flying you to Kenya and back but its earning potential and travel perks will make it a valuable tool long after your trip. To earn the bonus, you must spend $4,000 within three months of opening the card.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

75,000 Bonus Miles

after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee: $395  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

The American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card is among the best cards on the market. Boasting a generous 60,000-point intro bonus, earned by spending $6,000 within six months of opening the card, it’s also a stellar earner for foodies with an amazing 4x points per dollar rate at restaurants.

American Express® Gold Card

60,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $250  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Using United for flights to Kenya

If your goal is avoiding a cash payment altogether, United has you covered. While its points requirement is slightly higher at 49,000 points, it only requires a maximum of $12.60 in taxes and fees, depending on the airline you fly. This makes it, objectively speaking, the cheapest option for flights to Kenya. You’re still getting around 1.4 cents per point, too.

The best news about this? That rate applies to almost the entire country, whether you’re in Los Angeles or New York. Expect a longer travel day if you’re coming from the West Coast.

How to earn enough United MileagePlus Miles

Unless you fly regularly with United and its partners or have a co-branded card, there’s only one company capable of transferring points to United, and that’s Chase. Luckily, they have multiple excellent cards to choose from. Here’s the pick of the bunch.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the best mid-tier products out there. It’s running a 60,000-point intro bonus, earned after spending $4,000 within three months of opening the card. That’s enough for your flight there with 10,000 to spare. If you can find another 15,000 points, you could transfer those to Virgin and cover the whole trip.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

60,000 Bonus Points

after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening

Annual Fee: $95  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

If you’re a small business owner, you have another option–the Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card. It’s currently boasting a mammoth 100,000-point intro bonus after spending $8,000 within three months of opening the card. If your business expenses could hit that threshold, you’ve got a free trip to Kenya!

Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

100,000 bonus points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Annual Fee: $95  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Using KLM/Air France Flying Blue for flights to Kenya

Our third option is Flying Blue, the loyalty program shared by Air Frace and KLM. With redemptions from the West Coast as low as 38,000 points and the East Coast for a brilliant 30,000, you’re in good shape for getting cheap flights to Kenya.

As with Virgin, there are fees in the realm of $160 to $180, but again, the value of your points is high. And let’s face it, $160 is better than $700.

Keep an eye out for the airline’s monthly miles deals, too!

How to earn Flying Blue Miles

Earning Flying Blue points is easy. American Express, Citi, Bilt, and Capital One are all transfer partners, giving you plenty of scope with multiple products.

Flying Blue also runs regular transfer bonuses to help maximize your redemptions, so make sure you double-check before moving your points across.

Bilt Mastercard®

The Bilt Mastercard is a unique product in the points and miles world. It’s the only card designed to earn rewards on rent. You can earn up to 100,000 points every year at a rate of 1x point per dollar, so while it may not cover your whole trip, it can certainly supplement your store of points.

Bilt Mastercard®

No Welcome Bonus

Annual Fee: $0  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Amex’s most premium product, The Platinum Card, is a stellar option for the serious traveler. Its current 80,000-point intro bonus is enough to cover your entire trip with points to spare. Just ensure you can hit the $8,000 spending threshold within six months of opening the card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

The point

Despite being a more complicated airport to visit, there are still plenty of redemption options available for everyone. It’s more than possible to cover your flights to Kenya with each of these cards.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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