Readers of this blog know that I love loyalty programs, especially those that award frequent flyer miles or other currencies that can be traded in for them. Because of mile accrual over the years, I have been able to go to some pretty fantastic places across the globe otherwise costly or totally unaffordable. While there are many excellent blogs that discuss miles, points, and travel, I am going to focus on a bit more niche topic within that realm – buying miles and points. Why you should/not and when to do so if you are.
Normally, buying frequent flyer miles is not a good idea for a lot of reasons. 1) Cost. As an example, United normally sells points at a rate of $35 / 1,000 miles, with a minimum purchase of 2,000. Considering that using their credit card at a rate of $1 /1 mile on spending, that normally would be a terrible deal to buy them outright. Selling miles at 3.5 cents/mile when industry experts typically value them around 1.1 cents each makes this typically a bad investment. 2) Poor planning. If you don’t have anywhere in particular to go at the moment, buying frequent flyer flyer miles is NOT a good idea. Miles devalue, and unlike money, don’t increase over time. 3)
Get frequent flyer miles at a discount
Given this, there is a limited opportunity to break the rules here a bit. If you are close to getting an award ticket but are a few miles shy, Points.com is offering a promotion where you can buy United Miles and receive a 100% bonus. Buy 2,000 for $35, get 4,000. That makes the math a bit more appealing. Here’s why it might be a good idea: 1) You plan to travel somewhere very soon and are close to an award ticket; 2) It’s cheaper to buy the miles than a regular ticket [it’s possible]; 3) You can acquire a lot of frequent flyer miles all at once and don’t want to wait.
This deal only lasts until December 18, so you need to hurry. Bottom line, if you are going to buy points in the future, look for promotions first in order to help lower cost and maximize your travel dollar.