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

May 6, 2012

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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are available) to rebook the same itinerary, as long as we complete travel within 365 days of the date on which we originally made our reservations; or (2) we could each redeposit these miles into our respective AAdvantage accounts at a cost of $150.00 per account.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.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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