Should You Buy a Ticket or Use Frequent Flier Miles?

Discussion in 'UsingMiles' started by UsingMiles, Oct 19, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. UsingMiles

    UsingMiles Z Representative

    Messages:
    123
    Likes Received:
    103
    Status Points:
    375
    Travelers that rack up frequent flier miles may be unsure of the better deal – should they use the miles or buy the ticket? Sometimes it can pay just to make the purchase.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks to a helpful piece from Melanie Pinola, there is an easy way. Pinola cites the rate of 1.4 cents a mile, which can be used as a general rule of thumb. Then, one is only a simple calculation away from determining which option is best:
    • Divide the price of the ticket by the amount of miles it will take to purchase the ticket. Using miles is a good idea if the per-mile value is over 1.4 cents. Pinola mentions that 1.2 cents can be used to take into account a “hassle cost.”
    Is it that simple? Perhaps not. Airlines can vary on the value of a mile, so it is best to investigate your miles and then make the decision. However, it can be worthwhile to apply a similar strategy to this tough decision.

    You could also consider other relevant factors in your decision, such as whether your points might expire. With UsingMiles, you can keep track of these items with ease – along with all of your other loyalty programs. Feel free to contact us for more details.

    [​IMG]

    Making the most of your frequent flier miles is very important. Using tools like UsingMiles and the simple calculation mentioned prior, you can leverage the miles that you have earned over time. With the right approach, you can capitalize on these opportunities and enjoy the benefits.

    Make sure to track all of your loyalty programs on your UsingMiles dashboard!
     
    traveltsar likes this.
  2. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

    Messages:
    748
    Likes Received:
    921
    Status Points:
    750
    These leaves out one important factor -- trips made on points don't count as being elite qualifying !

    DTWBOB
     
    IDGflygirl and edekba like this.
  3. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    Likes Received:
    1,255
    Status Points:
    945
    Count in the RDM cost for an award the RDMs you do not get if you were to pay for the flight. The EQM issue also matters.
    I won't use miles unless I get at least 1.5 cents per mile including the miles left on the table. A saver award for the itinerary EWR to SFO is 25,000 miles plus the ~7,500 RDMs I would get as Premier Gold if I paid for the fare plus whatever value I might place on the EQMs. So I start with a cost of 32,500 miles plus 5000 EQMs.
    Further, if you only count cents per mile, then upgrades give you a better return. I tend to use miles for travel companions and pay for my own seat primarily because of the EQM issue.
     
  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
  5. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    I won't unless I get at least as much as the miles would cost me (I use 3.5 cents for UA) unless it's a particularly expensive flight.

    I used 37.5k for ZRH-LUX round-trip (one way was business, one way coach), but the flight would have cost me more than $800 in coach.
     
    traveltoomuch and 8MiHi like this.
  6. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    Likes Received:
    1,255
    Status Points:
    945
    Your tough. I must admit I rarely use RDMs for my own flights as it has almost always been a mistake not to get the PQMs.
     
    NYCUA1K and traveltoomuch like this.
  7. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

    Messages:
    9,320
    Likes Received:
    10,970
    Status Points:
    14,975
    Half my flying (in actual miles) this year is on award miles, but that's partly because a friend said, "here, use my award miles."

    SFO-CLE
    SFO-LIR
    SFO-SAL
    SFO-CPH
    SFO-GUA

    So I had to book some mileage runs....
     
    YULtide and 8MiHi like this.
  8. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    Likes Received:
    1,255
    Status Points:
    945
    Sounds like you are enjoying the adventure.:)
     
  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,740
    Likes Received:
    5,087
    Status Points:
    4,270
    Same here. I never redeem during the year because I need every PQM to requalify for 1K. Typically, I would wait until the second half of December to begin redeeming the accumulated RDMs. I usually get *A award tickets to travel between different countries overseas. However, except for this year because I had two very long-haul trips early during the year, I would find it necessary to pay for the outbound segment of that last trip out of the country because I would usually still be shy of 1K and that last trip would do it...
     
    8MiHi likes this.
  10. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Here's my situation. Going to Berlin on BA First using Companion Pass (2-4-1) from the BA Visa. No problem with EWR to LHR but no availability the days I need for the continuing flights on the days we need. Then again, I checked the paid flights and they are only $185 RT per person in Economy. If award seats were available, they would be 18,000 Avios for the Economy RT but since it would be part of the Companion Pass, I would only have to pay for one.

    Question is do I buy the second leg tickets now or hold off and see if the award seats become available. The downside of the latter option is that BA would probably have to cancel the reservation and rebook the new one - no small deal. My gut says to enjoy FC over the pond, pay for the two hour flight and be done with it! Any thoughts?
     
  11. 8MiHi

    8MiHi Silver Member

    Messages:
    1,015
    Likes Received:
    1,255
    Status Points:
    945
    I am not familiar with BAs program, so I cannot analyze it for you. The best choices tend to be made when you know the details of the program and the history of pricing and availability of the seats you are looking for.
    When I put together an itinerary I dig into the details of alternative routing and timing since these can affect pricing, availability, coordination of flights with companions and overall enjoyability of the experience. If I determine that I am happy with the overall cost in cash and miles of the package of flights I am considering, I tend to pull the trigger and not sweat future price changes and availabilty.
     
  12. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Worked out. Flying First on BA EWR to LHR and Economy LHR to TXL (Berlin). Total cost for the two of us was 138,000 Avios miles - plus a s#!tload of money but hey, what's it for?!
     
    8MiHi likes this.
  13. Dad to GO

    Dad to GO Silver Member

    Messages:
    230
    Likes Received:
    219
    Status Points:
    400
    I am in a similar situation with our 2-4-1. Because we can only fly on BA metal we have a day layover in LHR before continuing on to Munich. I am thinking of booking a couple rewards tickets on Air Berlin using my Avios and then if something opens up down the line on BA I will call and get my original reservation switched and cancel my Air Berlin flights. It's all a game isn't it? We're paying enough in taxes that you would hope you could easily get what you want... oh well... first class will more than make up for it :)
     
  14. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,017
    Likes Received:
    2,195
    Status Points:
    1,270
    If you haven't done it before, it will most certainly spoil you. It gets harder and harder but I've been lucky to do Lufthansa, Swiss, BA, United and soon, Cathay Pacific - all in First. You know these days won't last. I like your attitude!
     

Share This Page