I want to talk here briefly about frequent flier miles. You know what I’m talking about, that inflation-stricken
pseudo currency that the airlines use to get you to stay loyal and true to them. I am a member of some 5 frequent flier
mile programs, but I confess that I only really focus my efforts on two of them: JetBlue and United. I have a fair amount of miles on
these and have tried to figure out the best way to use them.
Well, it turns out that if, like me, you have
a ton of miles, you have several options how to use them, and you can do so right now without booking a flight just to
chew them up.
This is a particularly good strategy when you have lots of what are called orphan miles,
where you have a relatively small amount of miles on an airline you don’t fly so much. So here are some things
you can do.
Points.com: a company called points.com has
been around for a little while, and offers you the chance to sign up and spend your miles with all manner of vendors
from Amazon.com to certificates at giftcertificates.com…whch you can then use to buy stuff. You can also track all
your airline programs balances at ths site…which can be a useful way to keep track of where your miles are.
Will Fly for Food: United Airlines and restaurants.com have
teamed up to allow you to spend some of your miles to buy dining certificates. You can buy $100 certificate for
2,500 miles, and the list of places that will redeem those certificates is pretty long. The only catch is that many of
the places that will redeem them only allow you to spend $25 at a time, and some of them have a minimum charge (of say
$60) when you go. Still, if you eat out a lot or have a romantic dinner lined up with your spouse or significant other,
this could be a good way to go.
Magazines, Baby: Another idea, mentioned above, is to get
some magazine subscriptions. They are surprisingly cheap…or they can be, depending on which magazine you want.
But I got Wired using my American miles for just a few hundred miles. Not bad.
If you want to explore this
option of how to spend your miles, Milepoint.com is a great site to check out. There
you can spend frequent flier miles for reduced-cost cruises, magazine subscriptions, or even eBay accounts. Don’t
expect mind-blowing deals, but consider that if you weren’t going to use those miles in the first
place…hey whatever you get is gravy, my friend.
Another site: AirAwards.com is where you type in your mileage, and they respond with an offer to
purchase. The rule thumb is that a frequent flier mile is worth at least one U.S. cent. Again, not great. But
it’s still more than nothing.
Charity Miles: And finally, maybe you want to spend
those miles for something good…good-hearted I mean. Well, Delta has a program where you can spend miles to help
military staff hurt in Iraq. That’s a way to get ride of orphan miles and to smile when you look at yourself in
the mirror in the morning.
So that’s today’s frequent flier miles lesson. Do wht you will, but
given the state of things out there with the airlines, I’d suggest you consider spending some of those
miles. Today they are worth something. Tomorrow they may be worth nothing at all.
For more information on
what to do with your miles, check out these links:
A list of all FF programs at various airlines and links to the
Mileage Pro: A book about FF programs
WebFlyer: a useful site that explains mile programs and offfers advice on what to d