Category Archives: airline miles

Buying Gasoline: Are The Airline Miles Worth It?

Today I did something I haven’t done for years — I paid cash for gas.

I did it because the station was offering a cash discount, but it got me wondering whether the discount was worth losing the frequent flier miles from a credit card purchase. After working out some math, I decided it was better to pay cash in this case, although there are several factors to consider.

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Questionable Values For Airline Miles

A way to calculate the relative value of spending airline miles on merchandise instead of travel is explained quite clearly in a recent post on The Dallas Morning News’ Airline Biz blog.

Customers who hold frequent flier miles may feel compelled to use them to buy things this way, even when it’s clearly a bad deal, because the airlines have shortened expiration periods. But if you think  you’re forced into a “use them or lose them” situation, you should consider other ways to create activity in your account and thus keep your miles valid for another 18 months or so.

The Rewards Network dining program is any easy way to do this with Alaska, American, Delta, Midwest, United and US Airways. One meal out, perhaps at a restaurant you would have visited anyway, and you can reset the time clock on your miles. (You can earn credit on Southwest, too, though its program works differently.)

Donating money to the Haiti relief effort is a particularly commendable way to earn miles on some airlines. Donating miles is another way to keep your account active. The Los Angeles Times’ Daily Travel & Deal blog has details.

Airline Frequent Flier Rules Questioned

I once tangled with a Delta Air Lines representative about a fee on my award ticket and he told me that I was getting the ticket “practically for free.”

Wrong. I was getting a ticket paid for with a currency called frequent flier miles. And I earned them.

Frequent flier miles are not gifts from the airlines, they are assets. Now Sen. Chuck Schumer wants to review consumer complaints about how airlines handle their mileage programs.

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Pay Late And Lose Your Miles

Let’s say you spend a lot on your co-branded Delta American Express one month and then forget to pay your bill on time.

You’re going to pay a hefty penalty and interest on the unpaid balance and, as of January, you’re going to lose the miles you earned during that month, the Associated Press reports. If you want the miles back, it will cost you $29.

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