Dining certificates make appetizing mileage awards

Frequent flyer programs are continually subject to questions of value. Which is as it should be: If the programs don't offer consumers sufficient rewards, or rebates, or extra services, then it's not worth the considerable energy and even more considerable frustration to bother participating in them.

And a key component of the overall value proposition concerns the worth of frequent flyer miles. Assuming that the average price of a round-trip coach ticket within the U.S. is around $350, and that a comparable frequent flyer award ticket can be had for 25,000 miles, the value of a mile would be 1.4¢. Factor in the hassle factor of obtaining a free ticket, due to capacity controls on award seats, and that value drops somewhat. Let's say it's 1.2¢.

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What if you could double that per-mile value, or even quadruple it?

Members of United's Mileage Plus program can do just that, and they can do it day in and day out, without resorting to gimmicks or arcane maneuvers.

Redeem 1,000 Mileage Plus miles for a $25 dining certificate through Restaurant.com to squeeze a solid 2.5¢ in value from every mile. Or get 5¢ per mile by cashing in 2,000 miles for four $25 certificates.

More than 7,000 restaurants accept the certificates. Check the Restaurant.com searchable database to see which restaurants in your area participate.

The certificates are valid for one year and can be given as gifts.

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