Finding big value in smaller account balances

Discussion in 'GoMiles' started by @GoMiles, Apr 10, 2011.

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    There is no doubt that it is fun to watch your frequent flyer account balances grow. Seeing the numbers climb ever higher towards a redemption goal is a big part of the fun that it these programs. And cashing in the points for a high-priced award is a great feeling, too. Realizing value from the investment made to earn the points justifies the effort.
    Most of my awards are very big ticket items - 80,000-150,000 points at a time. But I've also recently started looking into some great value rewards that can be had at lower point levels - around the 25,000 mark that is commonly seen in credit card sign-ups and the like. It turns out that finding great value - and generally pretty wide open award inventory - on such awards is easy if you look just a little north.
    Canada has become my destination of choice for these awards for several reasons.
    • First, most of the loyalty programs treat destinations in Canada as part of their North America region so the awards are the same price as a flight in the lower 48. While the miles required are the same, the cash cost, is generally much higher so that provides a great value. Why spend 25K points on a $300 ticket when you can get a $2,200 ticket for the same number of points?
    • Next, the award inventory into and within Canada has generally been much better than within the USA in my searches. Air Canada (A member od Star Alliance and therefore a redemption partner with all its members) has an incredible route map covering the country and there are often seats available for award travel, even in peak season, because much of their route network is les hub-centric. This means more flights connecting seemingly odd city pairs but which ultimately means more redemption options.
    • Finally, there is a ton of beautiful stuff to see there. Canada is an easy and quick destination to get to and there are tons of different experiences to be had. From the urban centers of Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver to the great outdoors of Yellowknife or Nova Scotia, there are plenty of opportunities to spend your points a few at a time
    There are other destinations that are often a similarly high value for not many points. Jackson Hole, Wyoming is one frequently mentioned because even in the off season the cash price for tickets is generally rather high. Many destinations in Alaska are similar (though the award chart may be a bit different, too).
    Last Thanksgiving we went to Yellowknife and had a blast. The tickets were 25K points and $60 in taxes versus over $800 to buy them. This summer we're going to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia for roughly the same award costs. Buying those tickets outright would've cost $2,200 each. Points have opened up destinations that I otherwise would have never considered due to price. It makes playing the game worthwhile.
    So keep watching your account balances grow on GoMiles, but don't get down if it isn't as large a balance as you wanted. There are still great values out there, even if you don't have a ton of points.
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