How should I use my miles. I’m not going to give you the definitive answer here, but I am going to tell you about how I use mine — and point out that how you want to use them will dictate your choices of program, credit card, etc.
Yesterday I received an email asking my opinion of a credit card from MBNA with No annual fee, $1 = 1 point, 25k points = 1 flight w/in contiguous US w/o blackout dates. The ticket has to be booked 21 days in advance in coach, and there’s a maximum dollar value for the ticket.
Here is my reply:
What I do like about the offer is that when traveling on an award ticket, since it is a PURCHASED ticket, you will be earning more frequent flyer miles (when traveling on an airline reward ticket purchased with miles, you do not earn miles).
What I do NOT like about it is that you are limited in the way you can buy the ticket (must be 3 weeks out) and limited in the dollar value of the ticket (cheap).
This is precisely the opposite use that I have for miles.
- I use miles for last-minute and extremely pricey tickets such as when I have to travel cross-country and purchase the tickets the day before.. I’m usually able to get an award ticket for 25,000 miles instead of spending $2000.
- I use miles for international first class travel (90,000 miles for international business to sydney, 120,000 miles for international first to sydney).
- I use miles to confirm first class upgrades.
Since those are how I like to use miles — and how I think I get the most value for them — I wouldn’t choose the card mentioned above.
Why use miles for a $300 ticket when those same miles can purchase a roundtrip first class upgrade (worth, say, $1500 — the difference between discount coach and first for a cross-country trip)? Why use miles for four $300 tickets when those same miles can purchase a $7500 international business class ticket?
I use miles for the things I could never afford to pay for on my own. My miles strategies allow me to travel in a style beyond my means. But that’s a personal choice. Think about what you want to accomplish with miles, and then make sure your miles accumulation strategy matches that spending strategy.