General Question

occ's avatar

When is it worth it to use frequent flier miles instead of cash?

Asked by occ (4176points) January 28th, 2008

I have a bunch of frequent flier miles that I have been hoarding. I have to take a trip from SF to Atlanta and the fares are high—$440. Is it worth it to use up my miles, or should I just spend the money? I usually prefer to save miles for a long time till I can take an international trip, since they allow multiple stopovers and you get more for your miles. Are there other factors I should be weighing here?

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3 Answers

robhaya's avatar

It depends on a couple of factors: 1) Is the $440 price one way fare or round trip? 2) Is it a direct flight? 3) Quantify a bunch of miles? 60K 100K 150K

Assume the cost is $440 round trip and a direct flight. I would say no, its not worth to use the miles to get a free ticket. You might want to use the miles for a class upgrade instead, since this is a long trip. And save the rest for International Award travel.

If you have 100K or > miles than I would cash out for a free ticket, if the air fare you quoted is only one way.

Also consider how many miles it takes to book an International Award Ticket and when your miles expire into the equation. If you haven’t traveled in the last 18 months some airlines expire the miles from your account. So you may consider donating 1000 miles to charity to keep the miles from expiring for another 18 months.

Good Luck!

gsiener's avatar

Generally speaking a mile is worth $0.005, based on how you accrued them. So, if you’re spending more than $500 for a domestic round trip using miles makes sense. Something else to consider is that using miles excludes you from the potential for a free upgrade (miles flights aren’t eligible).

skfinkel's avatar

Miles expire, so I would check that out. I generally use my free miles for longer trips (over $300), and don’t tend to hoard them. I usually seem to have enough to get where I want to go, and sometimes I just buy a ticket. I’ve never used miles to upgrade, but if I was going on a really long flight, I think I would do that. In this case, I think I would use the miles.

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