How to Create an Emergency Fund Using Points and Miles

When you have points, it's a balancing act of keeping points to use in case of an emergency, but at the same time, you don't want to have too many points incase they get devalued. 

Points can get devalued at any time from their respective issuer. Historically, airline miles are more likely to be devalued. For example, Delta is notorious for devaluing their SkyMiles every few years. 

The good thing about credit card points is they're liquid. For example, with American Express Membership Reward points, you can redeem them for statement credit or travel. 

This post was inspired by subscribers who emailed me about using transfer partners to evacuate and use points to stay in hotels during an emergency.

How to create an emergency fund using points and miles

There are three tiers:

  1. Basic Plan- enough points for a 1-way ticket
  2. Intermediate Plan - enough points for a 1-way ticket + contingencies like hotels and cash
  3. Advanced Plan - enough points for exit, hotels, contingencies

Basic Plan

Pool: 20k Citi TY, Chase UR, or Amex MR points
Goal: enough points for a 1-way ticket

  • The benefit of credit card points is their flexibility
  • YMMV; you might need more points depending on target airline and your city
  • For example, SFO is a United hub so I would keep a pool of Chase UR points to transfer to United miles

Intermediate Plan

Pool: ONE of the following...

  • 20k bank points + 20k airline points
  • 40k bank points (1 program)
  • 40k bank points (2 programs)

Goal: enough points for a 1-way ticket + contingencies like hotels and cash

  • Do NOT have your points spread with three banks since redemptions have minimums
  • You're creating a buffer if you might need to help someone else, you aren't heading to relatives, etc.

Advanced Plan

Pool: ONE of the following...

  • 20k bank points + 20k airline points + 1-2 nights hotels
  • 60k bank points (1 program)
  • 60k bank points (2 programs)

Goal: enough points for exit, hotels, contingencies

  • Just creating more buffer for issues
  • Planning for the worst, hoping for the best

Do you keep any of your points for emergencies? Let us know in the comments below!