Do you earn miles through a frequent flyer program and/or a credit card program but are unsure how to redeem those miles for the best value?
For most of us, it’s tempting to just blow it all on a specific upcoming flight because it’s effortless and free. However, it’s not exactly “free”. You earned those miles and they are just as valuable as the money you earn so you should treat them as such.
Here’s a very simple and basic way to understand and get the best value for your airline miles.
The cent value for each mile:
Search for a flight to see how much it costs, then search for the same flight using your miles. Now divide the cost by miles and this will give you the monetary value of each mile.
This value is the cents for each mile. The higher this number, the more value you are getting. The standard is generally 1.5 cents per mile and you want to aim for that or higher.
Let’s look at some examples:
I used a mileage plan to look for different flights in early October.
Based on the above examples, it’s best that you pay for your flight to Chicago and save your miles for another time when you can get more value for them. Even if you’re not planning on traveling internationally, maybe your miles could be of more value for traveling to another city or during the holidays. The London and Tbilisi flights are both good deals so go ahead and redeem your miles for those.
Alternative Flights or Airlines:
Be sure to compare the cost of other flights and airlines with the miles you are considering spending. Use the same equation. Why waste the miles if you can find a cheaper flight with another airline?
Now, let’s talk luxury travel. When redeeming your miles for business or first class tickets, you’re likely to get more value per mile than you would for an economy seat. For example, below is the same flight as above, from LA to London, but in business class. The cents per mile value if better BUT, it does require 5 times the miles than the economy option.
International flights in business class are pretty nice and everyone should experience it at least once. But, based on your personal preference, you have to determine if it’s worth spending all those miles for one trip.
All the examples above are just examples to show you the calculations. They are not meant to be an accurate representation of flight costs and miles since purchasing airline tickets vary and fluctuate significantly and are based on a variety of factors.
So next time you’re booking your flight, use the equation above and use your miles wisely. Happy travels and please share your thoughts in the comments.
You can find other travel tips here.