Please, don’t buy or sell miles using a “Mileage Broker”

Every so often, you’ll see an ad from a mileage broker (In fact, Google Adsense probably put one right there–>) .  These guys are the scalpers of the airline industry, offering to buiy your miles (which they will then use to get an award ticket for somebody else, making a profit on the difference) or sell you a really cheap business or first class ticket (which will be paid with somebody else’s miles).  My advice is to avoid these guys altogether.

Let me be clear: I’m not in the ethics game.  If you want to risk it, that’s fine with me.  It’s not illegal (except in Utah) and you may not get caught.  As I said, I’m not in the ethics game, but I am in the mileage preservation game.

There’s no guarantee you’ll get caught, but there’s a chance you will and, if you do, the airline will void the ticket and shut down the frequent flyer account.  That means that if you’re the seller, you’ll lose all your miles.  If you’re the buyer, you’ll lose the tickets you just bought on the cheap.  As I said above, it’s generally not illegal, but it is against the terms and conditions at virtually every airline and they tend to be merciless.  Buying a ticket for a relative or friend?  No problem, as long as you are not receiving anything in return.  Letting the friend reimburse you for the ticket?  I don’t know how the airline would find out, but if they somehow do, you’re at risk.  In other words, don’t do it (otherwise known as, “this site takes no responsibility for the consequences of your actions.”).

Other issue: You have no idea who is buying your miles and what they are doing with them.  The broker has a party on the other side of the transaction, and that party may make frequent changes to the reservation.  If you have a credit card stored in your profile, the charges for changes could all hit your card.

The other risk is that you get a greedy broker.  If you sell several hundred thousand miles, fthe broker may split them up among several parties.  And if the airline sees one person’s miles going to several different, unrelated parties, it is immediately going to think “mileage broker.”  Goodbye, account.

Finally, you’re giving up a lot of information to someone you met on the internet.  You have no contact with the person who will eventually use your miles.  Instead, you give your broker access to your account and they do as they wish.  Should they violate the terms of your agreement, you’ll have little recourse.

Bottom line: There are a lot of different ways to use miles, even if you don’t want to take flights.  Your return may not be as good as if you had use them to fly, but you’ll face no risk from the airlines, either.


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