Cash, miles, or miles plus cash....

Dec 1st, 2019, 04:36 PM
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Cash, miles, or miles plus cash....

I've been going back and forth with a decision....and my brain isn't working too well tonight. I can pay $544 for airfare, or use 39,000 miles plus $11.20, or use 29,000 miles plus $191.20. Which is the best use of the miles? Help, please!
travlsolo2 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2019, 07:09 PM
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Simple math - With a ticket valued at $544 paying $11.20 and using 39,000 miles means your miles are valued at $ .0139 each. Paying $191.20 and using 29,000 miles means your miles are valued at $.0122 each. So option 1 is you best use of the miles.

FYI - just to clarify, the average value of a FF mile is $.013 so anytime you get a fare for that amount or better use miles rather than pay cash.

Last edited by RoamsAround; Dec 1st, 2019 at 07:14 PM.
RoamsAround is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 05:47 AM
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Thank you, that's what I was thinking, but wasn't sure my math was right. Also, knowing the average value is helpful.
travlsolo2 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 07:38 AM
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Who says that's the "average" value of mile? I have my own rule of thumb which is quite different.

It depends on one's own circumstances. A round trip business class ticket from the US to Europe that would cost, say, $3000 if bought for cash but which can be obtained for 120,000 frequent flyer miles gives a value of 2.5c per mile. 60,000 miles for a coach ticket on the same route that could be bought for $1000 results in a per-mile value of 1.7c, but is actually less when you add in the "value" of the miles you would have earned on a purchased ticket, but won't on an "award" ticket.

My own rule of thumb is to only use miles when the "value" is 2.5c or higher, but of course everybody's different. Even at 1.5c per mile, if using miles means you can take a trip that you couldn't if you had to pay cash, well then, duh.

In almost every case, however, using miles to "upgrade" is a seriously bad deal, as in the second example you cited. Just bear in mind that airline mileage plans are often the airlines' most profitable lines of business, mainly because so many are used for economy seats that would have gone unfilled absent the mileage user, and also because so many (probably trillions) of FF miles expire before they're used, or languish in small accounts that never achieve liftoff.
Gardyloo is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2019, 04:30 PM
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Makes sense, Gardyloo. I appreciate the thinking. Thank you. What complicates it a bit is that I'm not sure how much longer DH will be able to travel, so saving up miles might not make sense. Argh.
travlsolo2 is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2019, 12:14 PM
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It might not be the best economy, but personally I would always use miles before spending my own cash.
suze is offline  
Dec 6th, 2019, 03:53 PM
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Didn't do anything according to conventional wisdom.....ended up going with expensive days and using more miles and more money, but circumstances dictated it. I'm okay with it, though, so hoping trip goes as planned. 47 days and counting.
Thank you all for the input.
travlsolo2 is offline  
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