Using Up My Leftover Miles — Reader Success Story

Jul 26, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Christina, who got a great redemption value from miles she wasn’t planning to use:

A lot has been written about how to use points and miles for travel, but what about the orphaned miles that aren’t enough to book flights or hotels? I often have a few thousand miles in an airline account that I have no intention of using in the near future. These miles often have an expiration date, and I have lost miles in the past by ignoring the few I had.

Recently, I wanted to subscribe to a financial journal, but I was reluctant to shell out the roughly $187 cost of a year’s subscription. I noticed I had a small number of Delta miles left over in my SkyMiles account, and saw that I could buy that same subscription for 3,200 miles. Using The Points Guy’s valuation of 1.2 cents per mile, I calculated I would only be redeeming $38.40 worth of rewards. I was thrilled that I could get the newspaper I wanted while ridding myself of miles I wasn’t going to use otherwise!

We tend to focus on redeeming points and miles for travel, not just because those awards are the most exciting and inspiring, but also because they offer the best value. You can top 2 cents per mile on flights and hotels without breaking a sweat (even with SkyMiles); if I could consistently get 2 cents per mile by redeeming for groceries and utility bills, I’d do it. The problem is that non-travel awards (like gift cards and merchandise) generally offer a dismal return in comparison. The key word there is generally’, because as Christina’s story shows, that isn’t always the case. Assuming the subscription price she found was the best available, she got a stellar redemption value of over 5.8 cents per mile — nearly five times what TPG considers average.

Christina found a good use for her miles, but don’t be overly eager to get rid of your own small points and miles balances. First, get familiar with the expiration policy: SkyMiles don’t expire, so there’s no rush to redeem them, and you can often keep other rewards from expiring with minimal effort. Also, make sure you’re familiar with how awards are priced: Delta offers frequent award sales, during which you can book domestic flights for under 6,000 miles each way. Other airlines have similarly discounted awards, so you might need fewer miles than you think.

Related: Best Sweet Spots With Delta SkyMiles

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Christina a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Rawpixel / Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.

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.