Does it make sense to "hoard" my miles?

Old Aug 1, 2018, 1:36 pm
  #1  
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Does it make sense to "hoard" my miles?

My local airport is serviced by three airlines ... Alaska, United and Delta (well Allegiant but I'm never going to fly them). My husband and I have both managed to be MVP on Alaska for the last 10 years or so. We have over 500,000 miles in our mileage plan accounts between us. We use our companions tickets to fly to Hawaii or maybe a couple other random places but now we are beginning to travel to places Alaska doesn't service (Europe, New Zealand on Delta so now we are SM with Delta). AND given that regular MVP status isn't going to have many perks going forward AND I can buy premium seats without having status if I want. I predict we will lose our MVP status in 2020 given our travel list for the next year. We will probably continue to fly to Hawaii but dropping to once a year. But my question is - should I spend those miles now or continue to accumulate them to use sometime in the future - if I ever find a good deal miles-wise to a place I want to visit at the times I want to go on one of their partner airlines - which seems harder and harder. I have never wanted to use miles over dollars so I could maintain MVP but if I'm not going to be MVP does it make sense just to use the miles now? (Sorry for the stream of consciousness - you should hear me try to decide which credit card to keep for what benefits )
Donna
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 1:44 pm
  #2  
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the general guidance is that hoarding miles without a specific target in mind on which to spend them is a bad idea, they're generally a currency that depreciates, not appreciates.

that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to get some good value out of them, but sitting on them simply for the sake of just driving up a big balance is not a great idea.
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 2:24 pm
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We were where you are now last year.
We had a ton of miles and did not foresee any use for them. I will admit I was scared that award travel would be too hard to navigate with a good outcome. when AS started changing policies, realizing depreciation was the future of those miles. Long story short.....
I jumped into the award arena when I found a 40 day cruise we really wanted. Was able, with help from FT, to book award QF SEA-SYD F and J. Also secured Emirates Business Hong Kong to Dubai then Dubai to LAX. (everyone should fly Emirates J or F one time in their life). We completed this trip in April. Already booked award trip for Europe next spring . SEA-BCN in F. 2 week cruise in Med. then BCN-LHR stay a week then LHR-SEA all in F. Totally worth using our miles for these trips.
As far as MVP. also not sure it is worth pursuing, although, just used companion code for trip to Cabo and were upgraded to F because of MVP.
In the end, it is an individual decision. We travel only for leisure so those AS miles are all our dime.
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 2:44 pm
  #4  
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People who sewed money into a mattress back 50 years ago and thought that they would retire with a fortune, lost their money to inflation. So will you id you do it with miles.

It makes no sense for AS or any carrier to award miles today only to have them hoarded and used for much more expensive air tickets in the future. While that is not true for a year or two, the day will come when it 500K miles won't get you much. Or AS will be acquired or go bankrupt and you will be in the position of people who earned on AB (with nothing).

Since you still travel, why not use those 500K miles for your trips to HI in F?
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 2:47 pm
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Good points all. I like the inflation point for sure.

AS F isn't worth the miles IMO but I like the idea generally.
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 5:16 pm
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Originally Posted by ORDPSC
Good points all. I like the inflation point for sure.

AS F isn't worth the miles IMO but I like the idea generally.
Then, by all means, spend your miles with some of their fantastic partners!
Cathay, Singapore, JAL, and Emirates are some of the world's leading airlines, particularly in premium cabins.
To me, that's the one thing that makes AS's program worth my time... really good partners.
Granted, I complain a lot about not being able to book them online, or in some cases at all.

But I'm squarely in the same camp as the rest of the replies: if you have a specific goal that you expect will be attainable, great, save up for it.
Otherwise, you're throwing money into a pit with a bottom that gets deeper every few months.
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 6:17 pm
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Originally Posted by Legend717
Then, by all means, spend your miles with some of their fantastic partners!
....Singapore....
Touchy subject on SQ here. Still waiting.
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Old Aug 1, 2018, 6:18 pm
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If you really don’t know how to use your miles there is also another choice. You can donate your miles to a worthwhile charity.
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 7:40 am
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I save up my miles as well, but that is because I like to fly business when I fly internationally and will use an Alaska partner to do so. As long as I'm flexible in my travel days, I can almost always get the flights I want and if I book far enough out.
I don't waste miles on domestic flights, but they are sure handy for the international ones!
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 11:19 am
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Another view from an Alaskan...

We are two MVPG that generally fly 40-45K a year on paid AS tickets, solely personal travel. We've been MVPG for 12 years now so the miles add up since we only use them for unplanned trips and don't have much extra time to travel on award tickets after we've qualified for our status each year. I don't think our combined mileage balance has been over 300K for at least 5 years and many times 500K or over. We did burn 190K on a Europe turn last summer and we are looking forward to using miles for international J or F when possible in the future.

However, we do keep a big balance to cover emergency or unplanned travel back to family in the midwest and two years ago we spent over 300K flying back and forth for family emergencies that would have cost us at least 10K without the miles. So I guess my point is some of us hoard for a safety net, not just to save up for awesome intl flights. I do miss saver availability out of ANC though....been pretty slim in the past 6-9 months.
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 12:42 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by meej
So I guess my point is some of us hoard for a safety net, not just to save up for awesome intl flights.
This is an excellent point and I try to keep modest balances in a couple of programs for just this reason. I've had to fly twice on short notice mileage tickets to the east coast in the past year, was able to use AS miles first class both times at saver rates with tickets booked 12 to 36 hours in advance, versus paying cash prices of >$1000 one way for Y.
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 12:54 pm
  #12  
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"Hoarding" is never safe. Mileage programs devalue, and I would not be surprised if there's a significant Alaska devaluation in the next two years or so. As it stands, they're the last program in the U.S. following a true mileage structure, and among the last ones with reasonable redemption rates on long-haul partner J/F. As they grow, it wouldn't surprise me if they became more like AA, UA, or DL.

That said, holding back miles for to emergency flights on AS metal is a safer thing to do, as that's probably not the immediate target for devaluation.

I just wouldn't sit on miles expecting that CX F will be there in 2022 at 70,000 miles one-way.
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped
I just wouldn't sit on miles expecting that CX F will be there in 2022 at 70,000 miles one-way.
This. I'd been thinking of using my miles for to go US-HKG-JNB or HKG-Europe as part of some future RTW trip, but I decided to just burn through everything this year while the award charts are all still good. Even managed to sneak in AA J to SCL before that went up to 57.5k each way.
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 1:56 pm
  #14  
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I shared this thread with my husband last night.... he's already sent me a couple trips he'd like do! Thanks for all your comments. Looks like will be spending some miles soon Donna
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Old Aug 2, 2018, 2:09 pm
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I've been hoarding for awhile... but mostly have a plan to spend as much as I can on international first class, I'd like to try to figure out an around the world itinerary.

Also because I'm always chasing MVPG, so I when I do have an international trip, I want to earn the miles. I wish there was a method I could buy an international coach fare with cash then somehow apply Alaska miles to upgrade to business/first and still get my earnings... but I'm not aware of any method to do that on another airline.
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