Sunday Reader Question: The Value of 5,000 AA Miles

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TPG reader Izzie asks a question about car rentals and the worth of 5,000 points:

“I will be going to Maui for my honeymoon and I’m looking to rent a car from August 26th till September 3rd.  I found the cheapest price for a full size on Dollar’s website for $209.92.  But on Avis’s website I can get a full size for $239.47 and I get the 5,000 AA miles through their promotion.  Should I go with Avis or stick with Dollar? How much are 5,000 points worth?”

Essentially, your question is asking whether paying $30 more is worth getting 5,000 miles.  Let me put it to you this way: Would you pay $600 for a roundtrip business class ticket to Europe? I know I certainly would many times over. That’s basically the rate at which you’re buying 5,000 miles.  At 6/10ths of a cent each those points are 100% worth it in my opinion. Even if you don’t want to fly business class, that’s like buying a round trip economy SAAver level award for $150.

If you could buy cents normally at 0.6 cents each, you could get a business class ticket to Europe on American for the equivalent of $600!

You can also play around with the rate code to see if you can get it down from $239.  You can Google “Avis AWD,” or check a site like Zalyn to find other discount codes that you might be eligible for. Just know that if you use a corporate code  you’re not eligible for discounts, and if you get in an accident you could be liable so I would advise against doing that.

If you’re on the hunt for AA miles and your rental is longer than 5 days this Budget promo might make more sense since it awards 1,000 bonus points per day up to a total of 10,000 points.

At what rate would it not be worth it? This really depends on how you use your miles, but for me personally I would “buy” AA miles easily at up to 1.5 cents each. Beyond that, my breaking point is somewhere between 1.5 and 2 cents – it would really just depend on my future travel plans and whether I had a need to use the miles in the near future. However, excellent deals rarely present themselves when you need them most, so being strategic about the deals you take advantage of now can really pay off in the long run when you actually need those miles.

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