You didn’t say which airline card you have, so it’s hard to know exactly how to advise you, but in general, here are some things to be aware of when you are redeeming reward miles:
- If doesn’t always pay to use your miles. For the most part, if a flight costs less than $250, using your reward miles isn’t the best idea. You’ll get more value for your miles if you use them for longer trips. Why? Frequent flyer miles are generally valued at one cent per mile, and most domestic flights “cost” 25,000 miles. That means you’re just breaking even on a $250 fare. Use those 25,000 miles to book a flight that would have cost you $600 and you get more than twice the value.
- Which airlines can you fly? If you have a credit card co-branded with a certain airline, you will be tied to that airline and the others in its alliance – most airlines are members of either the Star Alliance, oneworld, or SkyTeam. Find out which airlines will accept your reward miles before you start planning your trip.
- How far ahead will you need to book? Some reward tickets are subject to blackout dates and seat availability, and some aren’t. Find out how many reward seats are available on the flight you’d like to take and how far in advance you need to make your reservation. Usually booking well ahead of time will give you the best options.
- Be flexible if you can. If your dates are flexible, or even your destination, you may be able to get more from your miles. Sometimes getting creative with your route can open up possibilities you didn’t think of before. For example, the flight you want to take to Hawaii may be booked, but if you look at all the airlines in your chosen airline’s alliance, you may be able to come up with an alternate route, using connecting flights from different airlines.
Think outside the box when you redeem your frequent flyer miles and be sure you explore all your options. Don’t just cash in your miles for the first deal that catches your eye – and don’t be afraid to get on the phone with the airline or the credit card issuer and ask questions! When in doubt, reach out.
If you have specific questions about your particular credit card or your desired itinerary, ask our travel expert, Daniel. He’s traveled everywhere and can answer just about any question you have. Just try to stump him! We bet you can’t.