January 10, 2014

Getting Started: Buying Miles & Points

This is the fifth in a series (post one, two, three, and four) of posts on getting started earning, managing, and redeeming points and miles.

One easy way to “top up” your accounts is to buy miles direct from the airline.  Many of you likely have accounts with many of the major US carriers.  From time to time they will sell you miles at a discount.  I recently purchased a few miles from United to top up my account for an award for about 2.1 cents (I value them at 2 cents each so paid only a small premium) apiece. 

United miles are expensive but are often sold at a discount

It costs (until 2/1/2014) 100,000 miles to redeem for a roundtrip United business class ticket to Europe.  Let’s say you currently have a total of 80,000 miles (easy to rack up quickly) in your United and Chase Ultimate Rewards (transferable to United) accounts and want to go to Paris.  You need 20,000 additional miles for the award ticket in business class.  In this example, you could purchase the incremental miles needed for $420 and fly business class or shell out roughly $1,250+ for a roundtrip coach ticket.  Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Right now, through January 31st, American is running a promotion where you can purchase (buy 45,000 get 15,000 free) miles for 2.27 cents each.  It costs 67,500 miles to fly (one-way) from Chicago to Hong Kong in Cathay Pacific First Class.  In most cases, this is a $5,000 - 10,000 ticket.  As you can see below, you can outright buy the American miles for $1,457.50 and redeem them for a Cathay one-way First Class award. Cathay First is supposed to be fantastic.  Ben has a great review over at One Mile at a Time.  We haven't flown it yet but hope to in 2014.

Not a reality for everyone as that is a pretty big cash outlay and you still need to get back from Asia.  But it's a great illustration of how buying miles from time to time can be a great deal!

Buy 68,000 miles from AA for $1,457.50

Keep an eye out (on this blog) for notifications about new "buy miles" promotions.  There is rarely a price in which I would speculatively purchase miles but if you have a desire to go somewhere and are short miles, this is a great way to get you there.

No comments:

Post a Comment