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Penny a Mile Through Delta Marketplace a Decent Alternative?

Penny a Mile Through Delta Marketplace a Decent Alternative?

Old May 26, 10, 1:45 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,107
Penny a Mile Through Delta Marketplace a Decent Alternative?

OK, I know the title is heresy for many here, but let's look at it dispassionately.

I know there has been discussion re Pay with Miles being a bad deal, but with Pay with Miles you are not getting your full penny a mile value; you don't earn miles on trips you book. So, I'm not talking about that.

But, there are various redemption opportunities at Skymiles Marketplace where you do get a true penny per mile - including gift cards (at places people really shop like Macys, the Gap), as well as the ability to book hotels and rental cars at a penny a mile. I checked the hotel prices against Expedia, and they seemed more or less comparable (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.)

My analysis will not include business class awards, which, if you can get one, is probably a better deal than getting the penny a mile. However, I have rarely used them, and never used them since they upped the redemption levels.

So, first example. Let's say I want to fly from San Francisco to Berlin in July (I checked outbound 7 Jul, return 14 Jul.) I can buy a coach ticket via JFK, for $1440.30, and as a Gold I receive double miles. The calculation valuing miles at a penny a mile is therefore $1440 - $261 (26,160 miles at a penny a mile) - $28 (purchasing ticket using Amex Delta) = $1,151. Of course, under this scenario, the miles earned count towards status.

Using miles, the trip is available for 90,000 miles, which then calculates as $900 + $52 (taxes and fees) = $952.

In the above scenario, using miles comes out cheaper by $200 than cash and valuing miles received at a penny a mile. The difference may or may not be worth it, but many of us would prefer to pay the extra and earn the miles towards status.

Now, let's try same city pairs, leaving 6 Oct returning 13 Oct.

Paying cash, the fare is $1,014. The calculation is therefore $1,014 - $261 (26,160 miles at a penny a mile) - $20 = $733.

Using miles, it is still 90,000 miles, for a net cost of $952 using miles. So, using cash comes out $219 cheaper than using miles.

OK, a number of comments on the above;
  • I understand that things could change before October, the cash fare might go down, and the mileage fare might go down as well.
  • I am not saying there is a hard and fast rule here whether using miles or cash valued at a penny a mile is better, I'm simply saying it is a closer question than is generally assumed on this Board. I'm sure we can all find many scenarios that prove or disprove the point.
  • I'm not talking a theoretical value of miles here. You can buy your ticket SFO-TXL in cash, then take your 26,000 miles and get a $260 gift certificate at Macys and spend it.
  • This might not have made sense a few years ago, but with award seats harder to find, and awards getting pricier, sad to say this analysis now makes sense.
  • It's certainly easier and less hassle to find a flight at a convenient time and date using cash than it is using miles. Think of life where you can concentrate on the fun part of planning and going on mileage runs, without the frustrating part of trying to find flights on which you can use miles. Free at last!
BigFlyer is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 2:56 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: New York City
Programs: SkyMiles PM, Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum
Posts: 800
I think the Marketplace offers decent alternatives for using miles if you also need MQMs to retain status (a concern for those of us in the lower tiers who travel only for leisure). The hotel vouchers in particular are a good way to offset the price of travel yet still earn MQMs. Until the drop in the value of the euro, I could find 1cpm deals, or better, on hotels in Europe, but now many of those are cheaper in dollars too.
samonyc is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 3:06 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: EAU
Programs: UA 1K, CO Plat, NW Plat, Marriott Premiere Plat, SPG Plat, Priority Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 4,619
I think one thing to keep in mind with business rewards is just because DL puts a price on a business seat of $4k doesn't mean the seat is worth $4k to me.

Put another way, if I would rather have $2k in gift cards than a business seat that retails for $4k, then the value of the miles is the $2k in gift cards. The list price of something I'd never buy doesn't determine the value of miles I'd never spend that way, because I'm not using the miles to save me $4k. I'm using the miles to save me $2k.
raehl311 is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 3:15 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: ATL
Programs: AA GLD Skymiles DM, a+ rewards lifetime elite, AS, Marriott plat, PC plat, HH gold
Posts: 1,235
Marketplace works for me as an alternative. I just put an $800+ set of tires from Sears on the truck with Skymiles. I needed some tires a little more than BE to FCO right now.
turkeyRIOO is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 3:56 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Denver, CO
Programs: Delta Diamond Reserve, HHonors Gold, Plat Priority Club
Posts: 76
Marketplace worked well for me also as I booked 3 nights at the J W Marriot in New Orleans (memorial day weekend) for 25512 miles.^
jmichaeljordan is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 4:55 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Programs: Handcuffed to Delta and IHG by Concur
Posts: 8,340
I booked hotels for my family for July in San Diego and Anaheim (across the street from Disneyland) for better than 1 penny per mile. So I am quite happy with Delta's Marketplace program and I now try to give Delta more of my business.

Inventory of the hotel rooms is limited, so it is not a good program for last-minute travelers. But since I almost never fly other than on a company-paid ticket, having an outlet for spending miles that does not involve flying is ideal, otherwise.
amanuensis is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 5:07 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Midwest
Programs: Delta/Skyteam Platinum Medallion and Million Miler, MR Titanium Elite
Posts: 50
Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
OK, I know the title is heresy for many here, but let's look at it dispassionately.

I know there has been discussion re Pay with Miles being a bad deal, but with Pay with Miles you are not getting your full penny a mile value; you don't earn miles on trips you book. So, I'm not talking about that.

But, there are various redemption opportunities at Skymiles Marketplace where you do get a true penny per mile - including gift cards (at places people really shop like Macys, the Gap), as well as the ability to book hotels and rental cars at a penny a mile. I checked the hotel prices against Expedia, and they seemed more or less comparable (sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less.)

My analysis will not include business class awards, which, if you can get one, is probably a better deal than getting the penny a mile. However, I have rarely used them, and never used them since they upped the redemption levels.

So, first example. Let's say I want to fly from San Francisco to Berlin in July (I checked outbound 7 Jul, return 14 Jul.) I can buy a coach ticket via JFK, for $1440.30, and as a Gold I receive double miles. The calculation valuing miles at a penny a mile is therefore $1440 - $261 (26,160 miles at a penny a mile) - $28 (purchasing ticket using Amex Delta) = $1,151. Of course, under this scenario, the miles earned count towards status.

Using miles, the trip is available for 90,000 miles, which then calculates as $900 + $52 (taxes and fees) = $952.

In the above scenario, using miles comes out cheaper by $200 than cash and valuing miles received at a penny a mile. The difference may or may not be worth it, but many of us would prefer to pay the extra and earn the miles towards status.

Now, let's try same city pairs, leaving 6 Oct returning 13 Oct.

Paying cash, the fare is $1,014. The calculation is therefore $1,014 - $261 (26,160 miles at a penny a mile) - $20 = $733.

Using miles, it is still 90,000 miles, for a net cost of $952 using miles. So, using cash comes out $219 cheaper than using miles.

OK, a number of comments on the above;
  • I understand that things could change before October, the cash fare might go down, and the mileage fare might go down as well.
  • I am not saying there is a hard and fast rule here whether using miles or cash valued at a penny a mile is better, I'm simply saying it is a closer question than is generally assumed on this Board. I'm sure we can all find many scenarios that prove or disprove the point.
  • I'm not talking a theoretical value of miles here. You can buy your ticket SFO-TXL in cash, then take your 26,000 miles and get a $260 gift certificate at Macys and spend it.
  • This might not have made sense a few years ago, but with award seats harder to find, and awards getting pricier, sad to say this analysis now makes sense.
  • It's certainly easier and less hassle to find a flight at a convenient time and date using cash than it is using miles. Think of life where you can concentrate on the fun part of planning and going on mileage runs, without the frustrating part of trying to find flights on which you can use miles. Free at last!
+1, Until DL fixes the award calendar (if at all) the market place seems to be a good alternative to burn your miles and get decent value for them as well.
bronco2008 is offline  
Old May 26, 10, 5:37 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: lax
Programs: DL DM, SPG Plat
Posts: 781
i've been redeeming for gift cards recently- $900 this month.

while i like the "value" of international business rewards, i really don't have time to redeem miles as quickly as i acquire them (which isn't that quick, and business class lax-tpe availability hasn't been bad at low awards). what else am i going to do with 300+k miles?
edscholl is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 12:05 pm
  #9  
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,107
I don't see Sears there now - were there Sears gift cards at one time?

Originally Posted by turkeyRIOO View Post
Marketplace works for me as an alternative. I just put an $800+ set of tires from Sears on the truck with Skymiles. I needed some tires a little more than BE to FCO right now.
BigFlyer is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 12:10 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Madison, wi
Programs: DL Diamond, Priority Club Platinum, Emerald Aisle Executive
Posts: 185
They own Land's End and accept their cards
Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
I don't see Sears there now - were there Sears gift cards at one time?
skowse is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 12:11 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: ORY
Programs: AA-1MM, AF-Silver
Posts: 1,127
Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
I don't see Sears there now - were there Sears gift cards at one time?

+1 I've been trying to find gift cards as well to no avail. Are the only available to SM elite members?
bennytma is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 1:23 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: ORD
Programs: UA 1K, AA EXP, Starwood Plat
Posts: 189
Originally Posted by bennytma View Post
+1 I've been trying to find gift cards as well to no avail. Are the only available to SM elite members?
I only see gift cards as an option when I'm logged in.
howl0007 is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 1:54 pm
  #13  
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,107
I have seen reports in other threads that gift cards are only available to elites.

I am Gold and I see, among other things, gift cards and hotel booking capability.

Three questions so we can figure out what the criteria are for who is offered what:

* Any Gold or above out there who don't see both gift cards and hotel bookings?

* Any non-elites out there see gift cards or hotel bookings?

*Any Silvers out there see gift cars or hotel bookings?

If we get those questions answered, I think we will now what the parameters are for who gets what.

It seems that the gift cards and hotel bookings are the most valuable redemptions as both give a true penny a mile value. That's why I'm only asking about those.




Originally Posted by bennytma View Post
+1 I've been trying to find gift cards as well to no avail. Are the only available to SM elite members?
BigFlyer is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 2:09 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Programs: PC Pl, UA 1K, CC Gl
Posts: 2,214
Any Elites (incl Silver) can buy gift cards at the rate 6k miles for $50 (at least, up to platinum. may be Diamonds get better rate, no idea). Any DL Amex cardholders (same as pay with miles) can have GC at 5k miles for $50. everyone else gets only hotels and car rentals.
Originally Posted by BigFlyer View Post
I have seen reports in other threads that gift cards are only available to elites.

I am Gold and I see, among other things, gift cards and hotel booking capability.

Three questions so we can figure out what the criteria are for who is offered what:

* Any Gold or above out there who don't see both gift cards and hotel bookings?

* Any non-elites out there see gift cards or hotel bookings?

*Any Silvers out there see gift cars or hotel bookings?

If we get those questions answered, I think we will now what the parameters are for who gets what.

It seems that the gift cards and hotel bookings are the most valuable redemptions as both give a true penny a mile value. That's why I'm only asking about those.
al613 is offline  
Old May 28, 10, 2:11 pm
  #15  
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Posts: 3,107
Does everyone pay the same price for hotel and car rentals?


Originally Posted by al613 View Post
Any Elites (incl Silver) can buy gift cards at the rate 6k miles for $50 (at least, up to platinum. may be Diamonds get better rate, no idea). Any DL Amex cardholders (same as pay with miles) can have GC at 5k miles for $50. everyone else gets only hotels and car rentals.
BigFlyer is offline  

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