POINTS VERSUS DOLLARS

Sep 20th, 2010, 11:22 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Sep 2008
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POINTS VERSUS DOLLARS

Is there a good yardstick to use for making decision on whether to buy a ticket versus using FF miles (assuming buying was not a problem financially) ?? Would using 90,000 miles for a transatlantic flight be better than paying $950 for the same ticket. Just trying to guage the experience of others. Have approximately 450,000 Delta miles and want to use them wisely as not accumulating as many any more due to lack of travel frequency.
nygvic is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 11:57 AM
  #2  
 
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DL Skymiles have depreciated over the years, and there's really no point in accumulating so much of them. So, in YOUR CASE, spend the miles unless you need to buy the ticket to maintain medallion level.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 12:48 PM
  #3  
 
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This is something of a hot-button topic for many FFers. Bottom line, is it worth it to you? Only you know how fast you can accumulate 90K miles, or how important the $950 would be spent on something else.

So I'll just give my own rule of thumb, which is I try never to redeem miles if the "value" of each mile is less than 2 cents US. So in your case, since you'd be using 90,000 miles for a ticket costing $950, that would make the "value" of each mile something like 1.1 cents.

What I would do would be to see what it would "cost" for a business class ticket for the same route, in both dollars and miles. Usually, seats can be had for 100K miles ("medium" with Delta) - but would cost $2000 - $3000 plus if purchased, depending on when/where. In that case, the "value" is closer to 2 or 3 cents per mile - and can be higher - which IMO is getting more benefit from the miles.

Most serious FF mileage accumulators use miles to upgrade from coach to business or first, or for premium-cabin redemptions outright. I know I do. But again, if it's 90K miles for a trip you really want or need to take, and the $950 would be a hardship, go for it.
Gardyloo is online now  
Sep 21st, 2010, 11:56 PM
  #4  
 
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I always try to redeem at upwards of $0.03 per mile, but I also tend to redeem for long-haul biz and cases of extreme pricing (booked a last-minute redemption on CPH-ZRH last year, as the cash cost was something like $1200). But, it also depends upon your travel patterns. I take maybe 25 round-trips each year, so I have a lot of opportunities to both earn and burn my miles. If I don't get the value I want on a flight, I know that I will have another opportunity to use them later. At the end of the day, I view the miles as a discount on my total spending, and I can maximize that discount by using miles on my most expensive tickets.

For someone that doesn't travel as much, I can see how the appeal of saving the cash now. If you take one flight each year, then the question is very different. Your question is: does $xxx mean more to me today than it will tomorrow, especially when I consider the possibility that the miles may decrease (or increase) in value between now and next year. As odd as it may seem, $950 can have dramatically different values for people, and some may need/want the cash so badly that they would spend 200k miles to get them.

So, to that end, I would ask what you are saving the miles for, and how long the miles will last you if you spent them at this rate. If those 450k miles will reasonably last you 2 or 3 years at your expected redemption patterns (including this redemption), then I say burn them. If those 450k miles will only last you a year, then I would probably save the miles and buy the ticket, assuming that the cash outlay isn't prohibitive.
travelgourmet is online now  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:16 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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I don't have much to add beyond what others have said, but I can reinforce their tips with a couple of examples.

1) I almost never use miles for economy class tickets (except when I'm giving a gift to a family member to visit me).

2) Typically, I use them for business/first coast-to-coast flights. For example, I used 50,000 BA miles to fly business class on Cathay from NYC to Vancouver (about a 6 hour flight) to go to a family wedding, and I used to redeem 40,000 miles to fly business class on Air Canada Toronto-Vancouver at Christmas. (Flying J during the Christmas rush, where airports and flights are crowded and there are often weather-related delays, is "priceless".)

3) I also use miles to upgrade from economy to business (e.g., NYC-SFO) or from premium economy to business (e.g., New York-London-Cairo). I don't think that option is available to you with your Delta miles, but IMHO, one of the best redemption values is the jump from BA Premium Economy (about $1500 per ticket) to lie-flat Club World seats (about $6000+).

4) It also can be worth redeeming miles for less exotic trips where the flights are fairly expensive but availability is good if you book early enough. For example, it might be a better value to redeem miles to get an economy class ticket for your college age kid to fly home at Christmas (when fares are high) and then buy a cheap ticket to Europe during a fare sale.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 01:18 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Oops - One more suggestion.

If you have a travel partner, you might want to do a combination of paid and redemption flights. My husband and I do this. I'll book a revenue ticket so that I can get miles and maintain my elite status with an airline and redeem miles for a ticket for him. Also, it's often easier to find one reward ticket than to find two.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Sep 22nd, 2010, 06:57 PM
  #7  
 
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With 450,000 miles and a "lack of travel frequency" I suggest spending the miles. I think it is a fair deal.

You could spend miles OR money to get there/back but you can't buy anything with miles when you get there.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Sep 26th, 2010, 07:11 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 645
Since your airline is Delta, then I absolutely would spend the miles to get rid of them. They sure aren't gaining in value. I can't wait to find a way to get rid of my Skymiles. If at all possible, I would suggest you transfer your long term loyalty to a better frequent flyer program. I don't fly frequently either, but earn most of my miles through promos, etc.
MareW is offline  

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