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Burn Through Your Miles to Get the Best Value

SmarterTravel

With [[ Frequent Flyer Programs | frequent flyer ]] miles losing value and desirable award tickets harder than ever to obtain, now might be a good time to burn your remaining miles and look for more productive ways to earn freebies.

I recently accumulated the magic number—50,000 miles—on [[US Airways | US Airways ]]. According to their award chart, this should have been enough for a round-trip coach ticket in the continental U.S. Excited, I began researching vacation possibilities.

My excitement soon faded. Availability was limited at best, nonexistent at worst. My miles weren’t valid on my dates or routes of interest. Then, US Airways announced [% 2642212 | | new fees to redeem miles %]—$25 to $50.

With all the red tape, I abandoned using my miles for a vacation, and instead planned to cash in for a quick getaway or snap up a last-minute promotion. I ended up burning through all my miles for a weekend visiting friends in Richmond, Virginia—fun, but not exactly the vacation I had desired. You may find similar frustrations when trying to book award seats on your chosen airline.

In response to the dismal state of frequent flyer programs, SmarterTravel.com Managing Editor Josh Roberts canceled his [[ Credit Cards for Frequent Flyers | mileage-earning credit cards ]]. “It was a value proposition,” he says. “Miles are worth less and less and are getting harder than ever to use.” He instead enrolled in point-awarding cards, and recently accrued enough to get a new television.

In this case, it doesn’t pay to save: If you have miles to burn, you may want to do just that. Your best value may be to take advantage of a promotion or a [[ Last minute | last-minute ]] trip. And with more airlines imposing [[ Mileage Expiration | shelf lives on miles ]], you may find it’s better to use them than lose them (even if it’s on a less-desirable trip than you originally planned).

Have a great travel tip you’d like to share? Send your insider travel strategies to editor@smartertravel.com.

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