What is your miles spending strategy?

Old Aug 21, 19, 10:30 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Midwest
Posts: 26
What is your miles spending strategy?

Sorry, I don't post a lot here so I don't know if this has been covered ad nauseam already, but...

What's your strategy around the miles you've accumulated? A few I've heard from friends and fellow travelers over the years:

1) Use them for a big family vacation
2) Use them to add a few extra getaways each year
3) Use them on family/friends
4) Use them for intl'l upgrades
5) Keep saving them up for some long-term goal (retirement?) :/
6) Use them to book and hold a ticket early, and cancel if needed later (free redeposit)
7) Use a little here and there to reduce ticket prices through pay-with-miles

What do you use them for? Do you try to stay above a certain balance? I'm sure everyone has a different view on how to use them, and it's probably some combination of a few different ways for many people.

As for me, I tend to generally spend whatever I earn in that year (albeit without dipping below a couple hundred thousand miles). Most of my miles use goes towards int'l upgrades and occasionally to fly friends or family members in to come spend a few days with my family.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 10:44 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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For me, the best value is last-minute personal travel for me and my family.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 10:46 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: BOI
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Posts: 164
I typically use them to buy wedding gift air tickets for close friends and family. It's a horrible strategy because it means I hoard them for much too long, and miles only ever go down in value.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 11:13 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
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My son lives near ATL so I use them to fly him home for visits.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 12:14 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: ATL
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Posts: 5,783
If status matters to you, you want to spend as much as possible on friends and family so as to preserve you own MQM/MQS/MQD.

Other than that you should spend whenever you see a good deal. In the long run they are collapsing to 1cpm, so banking is a bad move.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 12:22 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
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I use them for short(er) domestic trips in Y, for the most part - SEA-RDM, SEA-GEG, etc. I've found I can get a reasonably good (>1.5cpm) value, and I don't miss out on a lot of MQM/MQD that way.

At times, I'll use them to go from Y -> F when it's a good deal, and the occasional champagne in the SkyClub
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Old Aug 21, 19, 12:30 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Now: SAT. Previously: SEA, DAY/CVG
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Originally Posted by ctsgoblue View Post
Sorry, I don't post a lot here so I don't know if this has been covered ad nauseam already, but...

What's your strategy around the miles you've accumulated? A few I've heard from friends and fellow travelers over the years:

1) Use them for a big family vacation
2) Use them to add a few extra getaways each year
3) Use them on family/friends
4) Use them for intl'l upgrades
5) Keep saving them up for some long-term goal (retirement?) :/
6) Use them to book and hold a ticket early, and cancel if needed later (free redeposit)
7) Use a little here and there to reduce ticket prices through pay-with-miles

What do you use them for? Do you try to stay above a certain balance? I'm sure everyone has a different view on how to use them, and it's probably some combination of a few different ways for many people.

As for me, I tend to generally spend whatever I earn in that year (albeit without dipping below a couple hundred thousand miles). Most of my miles use goes towards int'l upgrades and occasionally to fly friends or family members in to come spend a few days with my family.
I use them for a combination of Int'l J redemptions and occasionally as "Pay With Miles" to knock a few bucks off the price of the ticket. I've also used miles for a family member and got him hooked on F/J travel when I was using AA miles and the Economy Ticket (only "AAnytime" available) and First Class ("SAAver") were the same amount of miles, so I got him an F ticket. He used to be of the mindset "Why spend double the miles on Biz Class? I could take two vacations in Y for that amount of miles". After riding up front once across the country, his mind changed pretty quickly on that thought and now he's the one saving miles for Int'l J redemptions.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 12:48 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
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Originally Posted by ProfRB View Post
For me, the best value is last-minute personal travel for me and my family.
In 2017-18, the Spousal Unit had a number of sad elderly parent concerns and trying to help from afar didn't always work. I ended up burning through a lot of my stash then on those kinds of 1-7 day out tickets.

It was a huge relief to be able to say -'here's a plane ticket for tomorrow; we don't have to worry about paying for it' when his mother had the brain aneurism that ended up killing her a few days later

(Morbid, yeah, but it meant everything for him to be there for her.)
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Old Aug 21, 19, 2:19 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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Tired of saving them since they only get more and more devalued over time...so just using it up on family vacations where I rather not spend the $$. Almost done...trying to earn miles/status now is just not worth it as it was in the old days. Oh, if I was young and single, I would probably use/save for those int'l biz/first tickets...just not feasible w/ a family of four. Haha!
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Old Aug 21, 19, 2:57 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Lincoln NE
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We try to budget (me more than wife) for our travel for the year but inevitably something comes up and it's nice to have miles available to use for that unexpected trip. For flights over 2 1/2 hours I look to see if an upgrade to F is worth it with miles.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 4:31 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Posts: 1,569
J to Europe and the occasional pricey (e.g. last minute) fare that ends up a good deal with miles. And, very usefully lately, iffy tickets for the family that have a decent chance of being cancelled. Love the redeposit thing for DM.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 4:31 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 196
I wait until I see a flash sale, then swoop in. Last year, D1 MCO-CDG r/t for under 100k. This year, so far, 4 round trip MCO-LHR tix in main cabin for sub 25k miles each. I use them up each year, no hoarding.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 9:36 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I don't ever think im going to have enough miles to get a good seat to a nice place for a vacation. flights to most places are relatively cheap for cash anyway that it makes more sense for me to use miles for upgrades. I do try to keep some reserve for 'elderly parent emergency' situations but otherwise I am not hoarding
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Old Aug 21, 19, 9:53 pm
  #14  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: Atlanta, GA
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Posts: 553
To me there is no sense in hoarding them. Their value can vary so much. Plus I pretty much exclusively use the DL Amex cards so I rack up quite a few throughout the year. I use them for anything where the cash price is way too high or for short trips. I had a rather last minute ATL-DTW rt ticket that was going to be $400+ but it ended up only being 19,000 SKymiles in Main Cabin. I've gotten quite a few redemptions like that. I do occasionally use Pay With Miles to make the cost a little bit more manageable for trips for the entire family.
I can't take 'em with me!...so I might as well use 'em.
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Old Aug 21, 19, 11:19 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2018
Location: SAN, PVG, HAK, HLD
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I agree with many others here about the value of Skymiles. I used to collect them actively and now I realize their value has become very limited. Instead, I found AMEX MR and Chase UR points more flexible and rewarding. On routes like PVG-LAX, I can transfer 60k MR or UR to VA and get nonstop Delta one suite, which usually costs 120k Skymiles on the same route. Back to OP's question, I use Skymiles primarily on international upgrades (e.g., 45k from PS to D1) and short distance flash sales (for me, 10k miles for round trip SAN-LAX).
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