Best Point Earning Credit Cards Destinations Marathons The Basics Travel Deals

Getting Free Travel To The New York City Marathon

Last week, lucky entrants found out that they were selected for this year’s running of the New York City Marathon – 18% of those that had entered the lottery system. Next up is the selecting of a training program with the training commencing in the near future.

But, what about travel? Surveys suggest that the average travel cost for out-of-town visitors for the marathon (spending 3 nights) is almost $1,000! That is big money! Once you factor in the cost of the marathon itself, you are looking at a pretty big price tag for a race. It is the New York City Marathon though, right?! How could you not run if you were entry was selected? 🙂

Here is how you can secure free, or almost free, travel to this year’s New York City Marathon. If you get to work on applying for some of these cards now, you can pay for your flight and hotel with the miles and points you earn. In some cases, depending on the card, you can even get your subway fares covered as well!

Getting Free Travel To The New York City Marathon

Disclosure: None of these credit cards pay me a commission or referral. Running with Miles is not associated with the TCS New York City Marathon.

Since people in various parts of the country (and world) will be reading this post, I will do my best to break it down by region and then airline so as to make it easier to find what you need (depending on where you are coming from).


Roundtrip Ticket For Only 9,000 Miles

If you are flying from the following cities to New York, I have good news for you! Those cities are:

New York City Marathon

The cities in this radius that offer nonstop service to New York on AA can be booked for only 4,500 points!

  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Washington, DC
  • Norfolk
  • Montreal
  • Pittsburgh
  • Toronto
  • Cleveland
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Columbus
  • Charlotte
  • Cincinnati
  • Greensboro
  • Detroit
  • Dayton
  • Knoxville

The reason it is so cheap for you (as far as miles redeemed) is because you are within a 650 mile radius from New York’s airports that American Airlines flies to. As a result, you can use British Airways’ Avios (their name for their miles) to fly on these non-stop routes for only 4,500 Avios (or miles) each way. That same flight, if paid for with American Airline miles, would cost 12,500 miles each way! So, you are at a huge advantage! This is one great use of partner airlines.

Find out how to book an American Airline ticket on British Airways points

Roundtrip Ticket For Only 15,000 Miles

Continuing on with the British Airways’ points, you can also fly from the cities listed here for less than the standard 25,000 mile domestic ticket. But, since these cities fall outside of the 650 mile radius for the 9,000 mile option, we move up to 15,000 miles for a roundtrip award ticket. That is the cost to fly from these cities to New York:

  • Louisville
  • Indianapolis
  • Chicago
  • Atlanta
  • Bermuda
  • Nashville
  • St. Louis
  • Orlando
  • West Palm Beach
  • Little Rock
  • Miami
  • Fayetteville

To fly from any of those cities to New York non-stop on US Airways or American Airlines, it will only cost you 15,000 Avios (or miles). Still a great deal as it is less than either airline would charge you with their own miles!

The Southwest Option

Miles Needed: Varies according to fare price

Southwest Airlines is another great option for award travel to the New York City Marathon. Their points are at a fixed redemption value (around 1.5 cents per point) so the amount of points required is tied to the price of the ticket. It is not required to fly non-stop, but they have a number of cities that do fly non-stop to New York’s LaGuardia airport or Newark airport.

New York City Marathon


One of the nice things about Southwest bookings is that they can be cancelled right up until 10 minutes before departure. So, this allows you to book one of these flights now and then change it or rebook it if the price drops! If you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can also bring someone along with you for free (only the taxes)!

The JetBlue Option

Miles Needed: Varies according to fare price

JetBlue also has flights to New York’s JFK airport and a lot of them as NYC is their main hub. Their points are also tied to the price of the ticket. They have a great on-board product and their service is pretty good. If you were looking for a nice ride at less than the typical 25,000 miles, JetBlue could provide that for you. Their points are also around 1.5 cents per point, so if you were to book any flight under 25,000 points, that would be the equivalent of a $375 ticket! Chances are you can fly to the New York City Marathon for way less than that!

New York City Marathon

Their network is pretty extensive now. There are a lot of non-stops available to JFK from all over the country, so JetBlue is definitely worth giving a look for your flights for the New York City Marathon!

Using American Airlines

Miles Needed: 25,000 Miles Roundtrip

Exception: 17,5000 Miles Roundtrip on some routes

Boston Marathon

American Airlines has a lot of options for the New York-bound traveler as well. Their normal rate is 25,000 miles for a roundtrip ticket in the US. However, for AA credit card holders (certain credit cards), they have a variety of reduced mileage award cities. If you would be flying out of any city on the list to New York or they include New York on the next list, you can fly to New York for only 17,500 miles roundtrip! Definitely an option to consider! reduced mileage award list However, remember that you can book any of the nonstop flights listed above in the British Airways section for less than this rate on American Airlines!

Using Delta Airlines

Miles Needed: 25,000 Miles Roundtrip

Exception: Pay-with-Miles to use Skymiles at a value of 1 cent per mile as payment /  Miles + Cash payment option as well

Delta has a wonderful airline for flying on, but awards can be a bit harder to come by than the other airlines. But, at least their domestic award chart is staying the same with the standard 25,000 miles (with some options for only 10,000 miles oneway on some routes). As of January 1, you are now able to book one-way award tickets on Delta. This will help if you Delta serves your flight needs going but not returning (or vice versa).

Another good thing about Delta is that you can use your Delta Skymiles as a method of payment for a ticket without booking an award. This is only valid for Delta credit cardholders but would be the best option if an outright cash ticket price is under the $250 amount. Since JFK and LaGuardia are hub airports for Delta, chances are good that you will find a lot of flights under the $250 amount as well as pretty decent award availability at the 25,000 mile amount.

Using United Airlines

Miles Needed: 25,000 Miles Roundtrip

Exception: 20,000 Miles Roundtrip for trips under 700 miles in distance

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 10.46.55 PM

United Airlines probably has some of the best domestic award availability. Their award calendar is easy to use and it shows a lot of options. With Newark serving as a United hub, you will find a lot of availability with miles.

One of the nice things about United is the ability to book trips under 700 miles for only 10,000 miles one-way. That means that a lot of the north-eastern US is in range at the lower price. It also allows you to book flights that have a layover. This means that you do not have to have a non-stop flight to take advantage of the lower price.

Using US Airways

Miles Needed: 25,000 Miles Roundtrip

Exception: 5,000 Mile discount for US Airways credit cardholders

US Airways has access to American Airline flights as well since their merger. This allows you to book a multitude of flight options for your New York City Marathon trip. However, just make sure you check the distance before booking! If it is under 650 miles, you are better off using the British Airways Avios method above.

A nice perk of the US Airways credit card is the fact that you get a discount of 5,000 miles on award trips – just for having the card! That means that US Airways cardholders will only be paying 20,000 miles for this domestic roundtrip to New York City!

Paying For The Ticket With Points/Miles

There are some options as well that give you the flexiblity to just book a ticket outright without worrying about award availability. That is made possible through cards like the barclaycard arrival pluswhich gives you 40,000 miles (worth $400 towards travel) after meeting the required spending. That should easily allow you to book any ticket you want and earn more miles when you credit those flights to an airline program!

Another option is using the Ultimate Reward points for payment. When used for travel, these points give you 1.25 cents per point in value towards things like airline tickets. So, rather than transferring those points to United (which is a transfer partner at a 1:1 transfer ratio), you could use, say, 12,000 points to pay for a low-cost, $150 airline ticket.

Getting the Airline Miles and Points

There are a lot of credit cards available that will give you exactly what you need for whichever option you choose. If you are traveling by yourself, there is no need to get more than one credit card to take care of your flight. If you are traveling with another person, most of these cards will handle two tickets as well.

If you have a question about which card(s) you should apply for, feel free to e-mail me for help with that.

British Airways Avios

These points are needed for the first two options – the 9,000 mile and 15,000 mile option. British Airways Avios are among the easiest airline currency to get. They can be transferred from Membership Rewards (American Express), Ultimate Rewards (Chase), Starpoints (SPG Amex), and their very own British Airways Visa.  Otherwise, here are the cards you can get that would feed into the Avios program (you would only need one credit card for this option):

Unless you want to get a Membership Rewards card from American Express for this, you may be better off with one of the cards below. There are many Amex Membership Reward cards but the bonuses are not at the highest levels at this time. With Amex’s policy of one bonus per lifetime, it would be better to wait on them. If you do want to know about this or would rather choose one, e-mail me for help.

  • British Airways Visa – 50,000 Avios after spending $3,000 in 3 months – until the end of the year, the annual fee is waived the first year – application link
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in 3 months –annual fee is waived the first year – application link
  • Chase Ink Plus – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in 3 months  – This is a small business card and the annual fee is waived for the first year – application link

Southwest Credit Cards

The Southwest cards have just dropped to the 25,000 point level for most cards. However, one card still exists with a 50,000 point offering but it is only by referral. I will include my referral link below which will give me 5,000 for each person who successfully applies. The other cards transfer points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio (Ultimate Reward points to Southwest).

  • Southwest Airlines Premier Card – 50,000 points after spending $2,000 in 3 months – $99 annual fee not waived – application link 
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in 3 months –annual fee is waived the first year – application link
  • Chase Ink Plus – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in 3 months  – This is a small business card and the annual fee is waived for the first year – application link

JetBlue Points

The JetBlue card gives an easy 20,000 after meeting the minimum spending. That is worth around $350 in airfare on JetBlue. So, before you apply for this card, check out to make sure that your flight will be less than that. The chances are very good that it will be.

  • American Express JetBlue Card – 20,000 TrueBlue points after spending $1,000 in 3 months – annual fee is waived the first year – application link

American Airline Credit Cards

American Airline has credit cards from Citibank and they have some pretty good offers. The best, current offer is for 50,000 miles.

  • CitiBusiness / AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard – 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months – annual fee is waived the first year – application link
  • Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard – 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in 3 months – annual fee is waived the first year – application link

Delta Airlines Credit Cards

Delta has their cards with American Express which means that you are only allowed one sign-up bonus on the personal card ever. If you have ever had the Delta American Express Gold card before, consider applying for the business version instead.

  • Delta American Express Gold (Personal) – 35,000 miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months – annual fee is waived for the first year – application link
  • Delta American Express Gold (Business) – 50,000 miles after spending $500 in 3 months – annual fee is waived for the first year – application link

United Airlines Credit Cards

United is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards so those cards can be applied for in lieu of the United credit card to gain maximum points. The current offer on the United credit card is only 30,000 miles, but there is a targeted 50,000 mile bonus that you can check out here.

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 40,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in 3 months –annual fee is waived the first year – application link
  • Chase Ink Plus – 50,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $5,000 in 3 months  – This is a small business card and the annual fee is waived for the first year – application link
  • Chase United MileagePlus – 50,000 United miles after spending $1,000 in 3 months – annual fee is waived the first year –read more here

US Airways Credit Card

There is an excellent offer out right now for 50,000 US Airway miles. Plus, you only need to make one purchase and pay the annual fee to get the miles! These are certainly the easiest miles to get.

  • US Airways Premier World Mastercard – 50,000 miles after first purchase and payment of the annual fee (not waived) – $89 – application link


As you can see, there are many options available to get the miles you need for free travel to the New York City Marathon – and this is just scratching the surface! Check back next week for how to stay for free at the New York City Marathon, and I am talking about some really nice hotels! You will be able to stay in hotels that cost close to $1,000 per night for absolutely nothing! In fact, you will even make some money with one of the offers.

There is no reason that attending the New York City Marathon has to cost you four figures. It is entirely possible to do it for almost free and this post shows you how you can fly for free to the New York City Marathon.

Some of the links on Running with Miles are affiliate links that pay a commission if a purchase is made. Running with Miles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

1 Comment

  • I also spent a really good time there with my mates on my best friend’s birthday party. It was my life’s best tour. It was a memorable moment of my life while I was captured many images of this fabulous city in my camera.