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New from United: Redeem Miles for Cruises

SmarterTravel

Members of United’s MileagePlus program who live in the U.S. may now redeem their miles, alone or in combination with cash, for cruises with more than two dozen cruise lines.

Cruise itineraries include the Caribbean, South America, Europe, Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii.

The cruise awards are offered through United’s tie-up with World Travel Holdings, billed as the world’s largest cruise agency. United has awarded miles for cruises since 2011, also in partnership with World Travel Holdings.

Deal or No Deal

More award options always trumps fewer options. But more important than convenience is the key question of value: How much are points worth when redeemed for cruises? And how does that compare with the value when points are redeemed for flights?

A review of a random sampling of cruises, comparing the published prices in dollars and miles, suggests that miles redeemed for cruises have a preset value of around $0.0085 (eighty-five hundredths of a cent).

For example, an eight-day Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas is priced at $1,489 for an ocean-view room. If purchased with miles, the cost would be 175,176 miles.

United miles redeemed for flights have an average value close to 2 cents apiece, so redeeming for cruises means forfeiting more than half the miles’ potential value.

A cruise would be nice, no doubt. Redeeming United miles for a cruise: not so nice.

Reader Reality Check

How much value do your expect to get from your miles when you cash them in?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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