Don’t Hoard Loyalty Points

Airplane Wing and Clouds

Or you could lose

Psyched about all the frequent flyer miles you’ve managed to hoard? You’re not alone—by some estimates, there are more than 15 trillion frequent flyer miles outstanding.

But it’s time to reroute your thinking. “Free” flights have been getting more expensive over the years—which means that your points and miles are losing value over time. 

For instance, an airline may say that reward tickets start at 15,000 miles. But because it has been making fewer of those seats available, you may be forced to use more miles to get on the flight.  On top of that, you’ll probably have to pay a redemption fee and taxes, and sometimes a fuel surcharge. 

That is, of course, if your miles haven’t expired. 

There’s not much you can do about frequent flyer inflation, because airlines reserve the rights to change their programs whenever they want. But you can use your miles more wisely. 

Besides, vacation season is around the corner.

  • Plan ahead. Reserve ahead and you’re more likely to get a seat using points. You’ll also dodge fees some airlines charge for late booking.

  • Track your miles. A number of  apps will keep tabs on your loyalty programs and alert you if miles are about to expire. Two popular ones are AwardWallet and GoMiles.

  • Go shopping. Many airlines let you use miles to buy other things: (overpriced) toasters, magazine subscriptions, and more. If your miles are about to expire spend them on something—even a camouflage camping chair. Give it to your brother.

  • Give ‘em away. For a fee, many airlines will let you give miles to a friend (you can also just book the ticket for them). You can also donate miles to charities that the airlines have chosen. Just don’t expect a tax deduction.

    Then use these smart ways to rebuild your mileage stash going forward.

Join the Discussion