TPG Readers’ Worst-Ever Points and Miles Redemptions

Nov 25, 2018

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We recently asked our TPG Lounge members to share the worst points and miles redemptions they’d ever admit to being a part of. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

Unforgivable Offenses

Whether it was actually done by someone’s wife, an ex or another relative, our TPG Readers were quick to share horror stories of points and miles redemptions going awry.

“My ex once used 90,000 AAdvantage miles for a one-way economy ticket on a connecting flight from Chicago to Honolulu because there was no low-level availability for our dates over Thanksgiving weekend, which weren’t flexible due to his work schedule at his new job. At that time 90,000 AA miles could get you a one-way ticket in Etihad’s first class apartment.” — Shana G.

“My wife used an extra 100,000 United miles to upgrade from economy to business to fly one-way from Spain to the US.” — Walter A.

“My dad is a business owner, has The Platinum Card® from American Express for his business and earns a ton of points but never flies for work, so he uses them all for personal trips. He has no sense of the value of miles but he vacations in Florida probably three or four times a year and consistently spends 25,000 miles round-trip on Delta economy flights when he can get the same flights for $150 or $200. [That’s] less than one cent per mile. SMH [shakes my head].” — Nick R.

“How about no redemption? I lost 65,000 miles on Virgin Atlantic because I wasn’t paying attention to the points expiration policy.” — Jeffrey J.

“[On a] flight back from Australia, my husband was on the waiting list for business class. He was uncomfortable waiting so about two days before our return, I used around 220,000 miles and cleaned out my account so he could guarantee business class on the long flight. I guess a happy husband is better than having enough miles for the two of us to take another fabulous trip or two. Right? RIGHT??? I’m still trying to get my miles back up after that loss. Ouch! It still hurts to think about it.” — Christal S.

Would you be willing to sacrifice all those miles to guarantee your partner flies business class home from Australia? (Photo by AtomicZen / Getty Images)
Would you be willing to sacrifice all those miles to guarantee your partner a business-class flight home from Australia? (Photo by AtomicZen / Getty Images)

Points and Miles Confessions

Believe it or not, some of our TPG Lounge readers actually fessed up to redeeming points and miles for things other than travel — or their biggest points-and-miles mistakes.

“I redeemed about 100,000 Marriott Rewards points for a Phillips Electric Shaver. PS: this was when I was a newbie to the points game!” — Vinayak K.

“Used United miles for a Vacuum and a 46-inch TV. We still have the TV.” — Julie B.M.

“I used 10K SPG points for an Amazon gift card. I was young and naive. I did not know any better.” — Shawn P.

“I once used approximately 2,000 points on United for Wi-Fi for a two-hour flight. The connection was so slow I gave up after 20 minutes.” — Dave F.

“Burned all my United miles after September 11 when they were heading into bankruptcy. I thought my miles might disappear in the bankruptcy. Um, no.” — Kevin S.

“While in London and checking in late at night by phone for a British Airways flight (AA codeshare) to Philadelphia (PHL) the next morning, they asked if I wanted to upgrade for 25,000 miles and $350 and I agreed. I don’t remember when I realized that it generated hundreds of dollars in taxes and fees. Most expensive ride home ever.” — Gene C.

One TPG Lounge member accidentally ended up paying hundreds of dollars in LHR taxes and fees when redeeming miles for a British Airways flight. (Photo by Nick Morrish / British Airways)
One TPG Lounge member accidentally ended up paying hundreds of dollars in LHR taxes and fees after paying for a British Airways upgrade with miles. (Photo by Nick Morrish / British Airways)

Sorry Not Sorry

Several TPG Lounge members had very good reasons for their very bad redemptions, while others chose to defend the decisions they’d made at the time.

“I always hold out for saver awards but my wife and I each used 50,000 miles to fly on United’s first 77W Polaris flight from Newark (EWR) to San Francisco (SFO). It was totally worth it!” — Jeff B.

“Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest to keep my 20,000 Southwest points from expiring.” — Kevin F.

“Booked Los Angeles (LAX) to Kona (KOA) one-way with AAdvantage miles. The problem was the return was a paid fare that was as much as a round-trip fare (no awards were available at the time). I should have just paid for the whole trip but cancelling the award after I came to my senses would have cost more money to redeposit than the miles were worth to me.” — Anthony R.

“Family emergency. 50,000 SkyPesos for Sioux Falls (FSD) to Boston (BOS). In economy.” — Tammy W.

“I’m sure it was using points for American Express statement credit, but I didn’t care to calculate the value so I wouldn’t feel bad about it.” — Jim K.

Readers Helping Readers

We love it when our TPG Lounge members get so involved in a given topic they end up chiming in with their own tips and tricks. That’s what happened when TPG Lounge reader Chris R. said his worst-ever redemption was “anything on Delta.” Thanks to Chris for opening up the conversation, which led to more advice from your fellow readers.

“If you have a Delta Amex card, definitely use the ‘Pay With Miles’ option. I always use that, never book a regular rewards ticket and I think it’s a pretty good deal.” — Ryan H.

“I wasn’t aware of this option, I have the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. What have I been missing!?” — Mike M.

Here’s the link. Basically, you can select any cash ticket, then get $50 off per 5,000 miles you use. I like it because you can book a normal ticket and get miles/MQMs/MQDs while using miles. When you book on the website, there’s an option to select ‘Pay With Miles’ and then select how many you want to use.” — Ryan H.

“OMG. This would have come in handy when I redeemed 150,000 for a trip last year. Also, I’m sure you can get multiple people on the same itinerary this way instead of just having them linked.” — Mike M.

“So even though you’re using miles to reduce the ticket price, you’re earning miles still on that ticket? I always thought if you did that, you wouldn’t earn any miles on the portion you paid for, so I always thought it was a bad deal.” — Matthew O.

“Right? That’s what I would have thought, but it makes sense if Delta is treating the miles like a cash payment.” — Kim S.

“You earn miles with the ‘Pay with Miles’ method, not with ‘Miles+Cash.'” — Tari S.

Featured photo by Luis Alvarez / Getty Images.

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