Keep racking up miles or use 'em when you can?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by bri5050, Aug 8, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. bri5050

    bri5050 Silver Member

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    HI everyone - long time lurker, but first time poster.

    So here's my situation. I have about 11000 points on JetBlue, 4000 on Southwest and 11000 "miles" on my credit card ($110.) I am planning a trip to Washington DC in October. I could use my JetBlue points and my CC miles to pay for my flights. Would you recommend doing that, or should I keep saving them up for a more expensive trip in the future (i.e. Las Vegas or California?) I'm from MA.

    It seems like saving up the points is probably the answer, but it just seems like it'll take forever to do that (unless there's an easier way? haha.)

    Anyway, any advice youi can provide would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! And thanks to a co-worker who told me about this site!
     
  2. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Boston to Washington is like 45 cents the way JetBlue is throwing out sales nowadays, so IMO it's absolutely not worth it to spend any miles on that trip.

    If you find it slow to accumulate miles/points and you don't want to bother with the credit card sign-ups, just start taking advantage of the market you're in. Boston just like New York has a lot of opportunities to earn status if not miles, so just fly a lot of segments or do a ton of small hops (to NYC, Philly or even DC).
     
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  3. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Agreed...+1
     
  4. Gargoyle
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    Gargoyle Milepoint Guide

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    Also Megabus is running $5.00 one way between BOS and DC in October. Slower than a plane, but arrive/depart central city instead of the airport, no TSA, those two factors alone save you 3 hours. They have WiFi on their busses.

    These options make it an expensive use for miles right now- work on accumulating miles to use on more exotic trips!
     
  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I'd buy a cheap ticket now and save the miles for a more expensive trip later unless they're in danger of expiring. However, don't save your miles too long as they tend to lose value over time, worse with some airlines more than others. If your see the beginnings of a merger or something similar, you should assess your mileage situation and think about using them soon. So far, FF miles have been protected and honored in mergers, but you might find your miles to be much less valuable post merger.
     
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  6. bri5050

    bri5050 Silver Member

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    Thank you for your responses. I will keep saving up the miles for Las Vegas or some longer trip down the road. That's what I figured the best plan would be, but I wasn't sure. As for the whole status thing, I never really thought much about that until now. I will do a little research on that front.
     
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  7. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Before reading the details of your post my answer was going to be BURN! Saving up millions of points is nearly always a bad investment. At the same time, however, redeeming 5000-10000 at a time is also generally a bad idea.

    With the TrueBlue points one thing to consider is that the value is relatively fixed. They range from 1.05-1.55 cents each right now. There's a chance that could change - it recently increased - but odds are that it won't move far. The real kicker with those, however, is that you cannot cash them in on part of a ticket; you need enough for the whole thing. If you don't think you'll accumulate them with any appreciable pace then cashing them in once you're at a decent price point isn't a bad idea. But with 11K in the bank and the ability to grow those a bit you might be able to get to a one-way to/from Vegas rather than the generally cheaper DC fare.

    The WN points likely aren't enough for anything right now.
    With the ease of mass transit connectivity at DCA and BOS I'm not sure that 3 hour number is quite as accurate for this route, but certainly avoiding the TSA is a laudable goal.
     
  8. Jett Rink
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    Jett Rink Silver Member

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    Willkommen to MP!

    bri5050, unless you ramp up your travel spending, gaining status should not be a concern.

    :)

    Jett Rink
     
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  9. bri5050

    bri5050 Silver Member

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    Thank you, Jett Rink. I don't fly nearly enough to even think about status, and I'm not going to fly more just to get it - sort of like "don't chase comps" in Las Vegas.

    Thanks again for all of your responses.
     
  10. sma_15

    sma_15 Silver Member

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    I generally think that (for what it's worth)... if it is a cheap trip anyway... don't use miles unless it is your only way to get there. Save them for a trip you might not ordinarily afford or use it for a fare you might not ordinarily afford. But do not hold on to them forever.
     
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  11. Jett Rink
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    Jett Rink Silver Member

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    True. :D
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    The only exception that I would see to the "don't use miles for a cheap flight" rule might be a case where you don't foresee another opportunity to use the miles in reasonable time--for example, if you're moving into an area not covered at all by the miles you have, which is hard to imagine, and the miles can't be put to good use on hotels, magazines, etc.
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Or you're collecting miles that are going to otherwise expire. The JetBlue TrueBlue points in the OP's case are a good example of this. The only way to extend the life of those points is to fly on JetBlue or carry their CC. So if it is a choice between spending the 11K points now or seeing them expire in a month I'd absolutely spend them on the cheap flight.
     
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  14. BackSlash

    BackSlash Silver Member

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    Nobody here has mentioned the devaluation threat all points programs face. Unless you're looking at a program with a fixed $/point ratio, like the new Southwest program or your credit card, saving points over a long term is a losing proposition. If you have any hope of earning miles through flying or via a credit card bonus/spending then saving until you have enough points in a single program for a higher ratio (3 cents per point rather than 1 cent per point) won't necessarily yield you the best result.

    It sounds like you don't have any particular loyalty to any airline/program so I would burn the miles so I wouldn't have to think about them expiring and ending up with nothing. Maybe redeeming for gift cards might be a good avenue for you to explore.
     
  15. 2soonold
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    2soonold Gold Member

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    It helps to have a goal in mind.
    I'd like to say I've never lost points/miles ; but actually I have. Things change, and suddenly what seemed like a good idea, just doesn't seem so great anymore.
    I've learned to value my points/miles for their ability to help me do things that I would not normally do based on the dollars in my travel budget. That is to say that I try not to use points/miles for things I can easily pay for myself. But, I also try not to hold onto points/miles, either.
     
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  16. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I think it may have been mentioned above, but the other thing to keep in mind is that the Southwest program is in no way immune to devaluation. Southwest could change the ratio at any time, cancel the program, institute capacity controls, or any number of steps. Fares could rise, meaning the same points get you a lot less. The last item in particular traditional FF programs are exempt from (except for how it may drive other changes).

    The fixed-point programs also lock you out of any high-value redemption. You have a floor on your redemption value and generally pretty flexible availability, but you'll never be able to redeem for truly high-end options.

    My strategy is to keep a reasonable target in mind, build up points to about that level, and then look to redeem. Don't be afraid to save up for a big award (if your earning patterns make this realistic), but try to avoid building up a stash much beyond that.
     
  17. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Well, with BA's upcoming "enhancement's", I'd say burn them to anyone if you're looking to do a single partner award. With that being said, if someone is planning on going NYC-LHR on BA miles, hold off because that will get cheaper.
     

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