You’ve probably seen enticing ads from the airlines for buying miles and you may be wondering if it is worth it to purchase them.
The answer to that question depends on how many miles you need to buy, where you are going and what class of service you want to fly in.
Most airlines charge 2.5 to 3.5 cents per mile, you’ll also have to pay a 7.5 percent U.S. federal excise tax and some airlines also charge a processing fee. If you are starting out with 0 miles, you would have to pay well over $750 to qualify for a roundtrip award ticket, but I don’t know any city in the U.S. or Canada that costs that much with an advance purchase. Most long-haul flights are in the $300 range. If you have 20,000 miles, then depending on the price of your ticket, it may be worth purchasing 5,000 miles to get an award ticket. You’ll have to do the math to figure out whether purchasing miles makes sense.
Another thing to be aware of is that during peak seasons like summer and the holidays, you may need 50,000 miles for an award ticket and some destinations like Australia seem impossible to find award seats year round. Always check award seat availability before you purchase any miles.
There are destinations where tickets can be expensive and that is a time when purchasing miles to reach an award ticket can be worth it. For example, fares from Dallas to Canada can be over $600 roundtrip, so using a combination of accrued miles and purchased miles can be worth it. There are also times when airlines offer bonus miles when you buy miles, so you can get more bang for your buck. If you act fast, you can take advantage of a promotion on US Airways that gives double the number of miles when you purchase through September 30. Visit www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/programdetails/purchasemiles/default.html.
Upgrading your ticket to Europe can be a good reason to purchase miles because business class fares can be very expensive. For example, flights from Dallas to Paris can cost you $4,000 roundtrip for a one-stop flight and over $5,000 for a nonstop flight. Even if you have 0 miles, purchasing miles for a business class upgrade can be worth it. For example we saw a roundtrip fare from Dallas to Paris in coach class for $1,096 and it would cost you $1,881 with tax to purchase enough miles for a roundtrip upgrade, for a total of $2,977, instead of $4,000.
You do have to be smart when you redeem frequent flyer miles. Some airlines charge 50,000 miles, plus up to $700 in fees for a roundtrip upgrade to Europe, so find an airline that doesn’t charge those fees. You’ll also want to make sure your coach class ticket is upgradable before you purchase because some fares are not.
You’ll also need to plan ahead because some airlines charge a fee if you have less than a 21-day advance for redeeming award tickets. You’ll also need to allow for up to 72 hours for the miles you purchase to be deposited into your account.
Southwest recently started selling points for 2.5 cents per point, and it would cost you $150 for 6,000 points, which is really a $100 value. If you’re thinking about buying points, remember you will pay a 50 percent premium, but if you just need a few more points it may be worth it to buy them. Southwest is offering double points systemwide for flights through November 15. You do have to pre-register at www.southwest.com/nationwidedoublepoints.
Southwest subsidiary AirTran is offering a similar offer with double A+ credits on domestic and triple on international flights through November 14. Visit www.airtran.com/doubletriplecredits for details and to register. Because these two airlines combined carry more domestic passengers than any other airline, we may see other airlines match these promos.
I have seen offers at the airport that will give you double miles for your flight, but that is a sucker bet. You will pay a premium for those extra miles. Instead of purchasing miles, you may consider signing up for an airline affinity credit card that offers generous bonus miles. We have seen cards offer 40,000 bonus miles for signing up and the annual fee is often waived for the first year.
A couple of years ago, British Airways offered a 100,000 bonus for signing up for a new credit card. While that is a nice amount of miles, British Airways charges fuel surcharges on award flights to Europe, so along with other international taxes and fees, you could pay $700 for an award ticket to Europe. You would be better off using those miles for travel on code share partner American on flights where your tickets will not have the added fuel surcharges. Destinations include flights within the U.S. and from the continental U.S. to Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central America.
When it comes down to it, there are many ways to increase your miles that offer more bang for your buck than purchasing miles. With the holidays coming up, you can earn bonus miles by shopping online and clicking through from airline website online shopping malls to retailers. The bonuses vary by retailer, with some offering 10 miles per dollar spent, and if you are going to be shopping with those vendors anyway, you may as well enjoy some extra miles.
FREE STUFF CLICK HERE
TOP 25 VACATION DESTINATIONS CLICK HERE