Most airline loyalty programs offer great perks for their customers and frequent flyers, and I do most of my mileage accrual through credit card signup bonuses and mileage runs. But airlines also offer the opportunity to buy miles at a steep price, and I often have friends ask me if it’s ever worth it for them to purchase miles. I typically like to redeem my miles for at least 2 cents per mile while the airlines sell miles at 2-3 cents or more per mile plus tax. Sound like a ripoff?

Well it depends on your situation.

Topping off your account:

I’ve purchased miles in the past to top off an account and help me purchase a round trip saver award ticket to Europe. If you’re a few thousand miles short of being able to redeem an award ticket then purchasing miles is the best way to do it. If we’re talking about buying a little extra to redeem a business or first class award ticket then you’re already on your way to saving thousands of dollars. So spending a little to be able to redeem a premium ticket is more than worth it. Some people are willing to spend $2,000 on purchasing miles if it means they can redeem a business or first class ticket that would normally cost them $3,000-$10,000. A cost-benefit analysis is important for one to make before deciding to purchase a large amount of miles.

Promotions:

Often times, airlines come out with promotional offers to buy miles and receive bonus miles as an incentive to bring down the steep costs. Promotions can range from 25% to 100% bonus miles on top of your purchase. I would definitely advise you to take advantage of a promotional offer if you think you need miles from that program in the near future. Especially if you’re looking to redeem miles for business or first class tickets, promotions can allow you to buy those tickets at a fraction of the cost.

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British Airways Avios mile purchase promotion

For example: US Airways has recently run some promotions offering 100% bonus on miles purchased. US Airways offers some great redemption options with just 90,000 points needed for a round trip business class ticket to Asia. If you were to buy 45,000 miles at the rate of $1,575 to achieve the 90,000 points with the 100% bonus, then you’d effectively be saving yourself a few thousand dollars if you intended to purchase a business class ticket. Make sure to follow my posts for great promotional offers that can help you earn the amount of points you need to redeem a ticket and not pay the steep prices that the airlines would love for you to pay.

Trading miles & points to another program using Points.com:

Points.com is a website that allows you to trade into or out of a reward program and gain more points in the program you need. Exchange your reward points and flight miles between your existing programs at Points.com and get rid of the points in the programs that you don’t necessarily need while gaining in the programs you do need.

List of current airline and hotel programs with promotions to purchase miles:

Alaska Air Buy & Gift Miles

US Airways Dividend Miles®

Buy or gift Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Jet Blue Buy & Gift Miles

British Airways Avios Miles

Virgin America Buy, Gift & Transfer Miles

Hyatt Buy & Gift Miles

IHG Buy and Gift Miles

Starwood Buy & Gift Miles