Video Sunday Reader Question: Is Paying to Redeposit Miles Worth It?

by on May 6, 2012 · 8 comments

in Sunday Reader Questions, Video Blog Post

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TPG reader Mike asks a great question about the costs of redepositing unused frequent flyer miles:

“A few months ago my wife and I each redeemed 50,000 AAdvantage miles to book flights in June. Since then, for medical reasons, we’ve had to cancel our travel plans. American Airlines now gives us two choices: (1) we could use the tickets (assuming reward seats are available) to rebook the same itinerary, as long as we complete travel within 365 days of the date on which we originally made our reservations; or (2) we could each redeposit these miles into our respective AAdvantage accounts at a cost of $150.00 per account. We doubt that we will want fly the same itinerary anytime in the next year. But is paying $150 to redeposit 50,000 miles a good idea? Your thoughts, please.”


If you aren’t able to watch the video, then the short answer is: absolutely, yes. That’s because even though you’re paying $150 to get those miles back, you can still pull at least $250 worth of value (one cent per mile) out of them with a future redemption, so not redepositing them would actually be like throwing $100 away. If you redeem for international or premium rewards, that’s even more value.

However, there are a few ways to get around those fees:

-Elite status: If you’re an AAdvantage  Executive Platinum member, AA will waive those fees

-Patience: If you have some time before your flight, the airline might cancel the route, change your flights or itineraries, and that’s grounds for you to ask them to waive your redeposit fee. As long as it’s the airline making the change, you should be able to get your miles back without a fee, and if you have the time to wait and don’t need the miles immediately, see what happens.

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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  • Matt S

    Not Platinum. Only EXP.

  • BobChi

    One detail – if you can’t take the originally booked itinerary, you don’t need to decide for sure right away if you’re going to use the ticket within a year or redeposit. You can cancel your seat now, keep the itinerary on record, and keep your options open to later choose to redeposit the miles or rebook a flight.

    I like the tip about waiting to see if there’s a schedule change. Two questions about that: 1) How late can a person wait without penalty? 2) How big a schedule change triggers the opportunity to redeposit without fee? I very often get updates with changes of a few minutes here, a few minutes there. It seems to happen more often than not when booking far ahead. Is there a minimum?

  • thepointsguy


  • thepointsguy

    Good tip about waiting and keeping your options open.

    As far as schedule change, it depends on the airline, but usually its at least an hour threshold. That being said, it never hurts to ask!

  • Carwag25

    AA will only waive the fees for the person who is EXP. The person without elite status must still pay the fees. When I called the EXP desk to redeposit my miles a couple months back, the EXP desk was able to use the loophole that the flights had changed and waived the fees for my partner, who is not elite with AA.

  • Steventravel

    They each redeemed 50,000 miles, so they are paying $300 for getting back 100,000 for both of them, So double Yes, but I love the recommendation on being patient. It’s worth a try.

  • Asdfasdfasdasd

    Redeposit early Redeposit Often (if yer platinum on Delta)

  • Josh

    I just ran into the same problem with 15,000 Free Spirit miles which, on a good day, could get me 3 round-trip flights. The redeposit fee is $200. At first I immediately thought yes, 3 round-trip flights is worth $200, but then I thought, “wouldn’t it be so much better to fill out a 30-second credit card application and get 15,000 miles that way without spending $200 of my own real money?”

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