Much of my award travel isn't exotic. It's domestic coach saver awards when revenue ticket prices are too high, as they frequently are in 2013. If the revenue price is outrageous when I'm ready to reserve (usually just a month or two out), I book any possible roundabout award as a placeholder, and sign up for a Kayak alert in case revenue prices drop to my threshold. If they don't, I continue refining the reward routing, sometimes up to 3 hours before flight time. My Chase MP Explorer card gets me on the upgrade list even on an award, though I sometimes have to go through contortions to join the list if the upgrade happens at T<24. I'm looking to refine my methodology on award vs. paid travel, and am curious if anyone has their own rule of thumb. One rule I'm thinking of is comparing the ticket price in cents to the award miles used plus earned miles foregone, including elite bonuses. For example, compare an all-in OW fare of $150.00 from SFO to ORD with award travel of 12,500+3,692 = 16,192 miles. If the result is less than 1, as it is here, then I'll consider paying for the ticket. Some might say I'm living in the past with my expectation of low ticket prices, but I'm just not comfortable shelling out more than say $350 for a basic transcon roundtrip if I've actively hunted for low-fare opportunities and don't find them. And on many trips I don't have time to route via say IAH for more miles. What metric, if any, do you have?