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Dec 06

Should I buy miles?

It’s that time of year, when everyone is looking for the perfect holiday gift.  So the airlines are helping you out with your shopping by offering to sell you miles.  Should you take them up on it?

The answer, usually, is no.  That shouldn’t surprise anyone; the airlines aren’t going to sell miles unless they stand to make a healthy profit from them.  And even if they offer you what seem like great bonuses, you’re often paying at least a couple of cents per mile, which is a poor deal.  There are, however, two situations in which purchasing miles is not a bad idea.

First, if you are near an award, purchasing a few miles might be the fastest way to get over the threshold.  If you have 49,575 miles in your account, for instance, and you need 50,000 for an award ticket, it may be worth a few bucks.  Award tickets tend to come and go, so if you are ready to book, it’s important to get those miles as fast as possible, and buying them outright is the fastest way to do so.

Second, and this is rare, is when the airlines offer elite qualifying miles for a purchase and you are near a break point for status.  Generally, when airlines sell miles, they only sell miles that are good for redemptions and not toward elite status.  If you need your miles for elite status and the airline is offering them, then that’s the way to go.

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