Finally, A Coherent Article About Points and Miles

by on April 13, 2011 · 6 comments

in Points Guy Pointers

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I was pretty happy to read this post from The New York Times’ Frugal Traveler, Seth Kugel, about getting value from points and miles. When Seth was researching this story, he reached out and asked me to meet with him to talk about my favorite subject: points and miles. Initially I was flattered that a) he was a reader of my blog and b) wanted to talk to me about miles, but then I got a little bit worried. I was worried because I’ve read so many articles by writers who don’t take the time to actually understand the whole miles and points world and then make hasty generalizations like “miles are worthless” or “frequent flyer programs should be banned because they are unfair.”

I’ll cut some slack to past writers who have bungled articles on the subject because I admit it’s pretty tricky to fully understand this game and then convey it clearly to a large audience. So after I thought about it, I saw this as an opportunity to educate a wider population of people that getting in on the miles and points game isn’t about gaming the system – it’s about saving money. When you think about it, taking advantage of loyalty points and miles is like collecting money. A thousand here and there in free promos and all of the sudden you have a nearly free ticket that would have cost you hundreds of dollars. Once people realize that points = money, they don’t roll their eyes at opportunities like calling US Airways for 1,000 free miles.

In any case, the whole purpose of this blog is to show that collecting miles and points is fun and it can save you money and I think that’s exactly what Seth conveyed in his concise, non-biased article. In fact, by the end of our frugal $25 dinner (at a Delta Dining establishment – of course – so he could get the new member bonus), I could tell he “got” it and I think it came through in his article. My favorite part was:

“There are all kinds of estimates out there for what a mile is worth to the average consumer or to the airlines. But all that really matters is what a mile is worth to you.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • johndeere19

    ny times link broken

  • SVB

    Looks like the link needs a “:” after the “http” to work.

  • The Points Guy

    Fixed – thanks for the heads up!

  • Glenn

    look at all of those negative comments on that blog post! Some people will never be convinced I guess. The people who get frustrated are the ones trying to use their miles for domestic Y seats, I think. And that seems to be the least valuable type of award seat anyway. International C and F is where the real value lies, IMHO. That $15,000 F class ticket for 120K Aeroplan miles mostly generated with free bonus mile offers or ordinary cc spending is just an amazing thing.

    But I guess the more people who poo-poo the whole thing means that many more seats available for the rest of us. Let the haters hate while I enjoy my lie flat bed.

  • Steve

    I too was very surprised by all the negative comments on the blog regarding miles being “worthless” or a “waste of time.” It seems a lot of people are just too lazy or uneducated to give it a try. Although it seems only the negatives usually post comments anyway. The others sign up for AwardWallet and check out ThePointsGuy website to receive made miles deals!

  • Steve Schwartz

    I agree with all the points but I’m not as surprised by the negative comments. I still have friends who would rather pay cash to fly Coach non-stop to, for example, Paris rather than get and use free points for First Class on BA via London. I think they’re crazy but they are certainly not wrong!

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