Cash or Points

Old Oct 13, 16, 6:15 am
  #1  
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Cash or Points

My question is the ultimate "Pay cash or Use points". I get confused on whether you should just pay for flights with Cash, Us Points, or Use Points via Citi Prestige/Chase Reserve to buy a ticket.

For example for the New Years holiday there is a round trip for $6oo from SFO to WAS. All the airlines are charging 50k round trip. So do you pay the cash,burn all the miles, or miles converted into cash?
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Old Oct 13, 16, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by dmarcus163 View Post
My question is the ultimate "Pay cash or Use points". I get confused on whether you should just pay for flights with Cash, Us Points, or Use Points via Citi Prestige/Chase Reserve to buy a ticket.

For example for the New Years holiday there is a round trip for $6oo from SFO to WAS. All the airlines are charging 50k round trip. So do you pay the cash,burn all the miles, or miles converted into cash?
It's always going to be a personal decision. 1.2cpm is a little lower than most FTers like to redeem, but that doesn't mean it's a bad choice for you.

As painful as it seems to pay $600 on a domestic flight, that's the reality these days for holiday travel on some routes, so I would probably bite the bullet and pay it. I'd evaluate the RDM/EQM benefits of flying paid...that could tip the decision one way or the other.

Other things I'd consider:

- It may be 50k for a Y award, but check and see if it's *also* 50k for an F award. I'm flying over New Year's on a peak cruise-departure route to the Caribbean. Cash prices = insane. Coach awards = 50k. F awards = 50k. No-brainer: I'm flying F. Given the raw number of seats out there from the Bay Area to WAS, you might score an F seat here.

- If you choose to buy, and you have the Thank You Points to redeem, then that seat is treated as a normal mileage-earning fare. Since the TYP "bonus" for redeeming AA ends in mid-2017, this might be a good place to spend your points. (Assuming AA was in the cheapest-fare ballpark.)

- You can also look at discounted-F fares. (I always do this when I see sky-high Y fares.) Sometimes you find something just slightly higher (say, $800), sometimes not. Only catch: the engine that books TYP tickets sometimes can't book AA discount F fares. YMMV.
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Old Oct 13, 16, 8:12 pm
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
It's always going to be a personal decision. 1.2cpm is a little lower than most FTers like to redeem, but that doesn't mean it's a bad choice for you.

As painful as it seems to pay $600 on a domestic flight, that's the reality these days for holiday travel on some routes, so I would probably bite the bullet and pay it. I'd evaluate the RDM/EQM benefits of flying paid...that could tip the decision one way or the other.

Other things I'd consider:

- It may be 50k for a Y award, but check and see if it's *also* 50k for an F award. I'm flying over New Year's on a peak cruise-departure route to the Caribbean. Cash prices = insane. Coach awards = 50k. F awards = 50k. No-brainer: I'm flying F. Given the raw number of seats out there from the Bay Area to WAS, you might score an F seat here.

- If you choose to buy, and you have the Thank You Points to redeem, then that seat is treated as a normal mileage-earning fare. Since the TYP "bonus" for redeeming AA ends in mid-2017, this might be a good place to spend your points. (Assuming AA was in the cheapest-fare ballpark.)

- You can also look at discounted-F fares. (I always do this when I see sky-high Y fares.) Sometimes you find something just slightly higher (say, $800), sometimes not. Only catch: the engine that books TYP tickets sometimes can't book AA discount F fares. YMMV.
Great. Only question I have us how could you find a F award none same flight for the same miles as a regular coach? Am I confusing a domestic flight in coach compared to an international F for the same 50k?
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Old Oct 14, 16, 10:21 am
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Originally Posted by dmarcus163 View Post
... how could you find a F award none same flight for the same miles as a regular coach?
On AA the redemption options for domestic (contiguous 48 states) looks like this (one-way):
  1. 12,500 SAAver Coach
  2. 20,000 AAnytime Coach (Level 1)
  3. 30,000 AAnytime Coach (Level 2)
  4. 25,000 SAAver First
  5. 45,000 AAnytime First (Level 1)
  6. 55,000 AAnytime First (Level 2)

Notice that the lowest First class redemption (row 4) requires fewer miles than some Coach redemptions (Row 3) and only slightly more than Row 2.

Coach and Fist class inventory are managed separately. There may still be SAAver inventory in First Class even when Coach has only AANytime inventory. Similar opportunities may occur on AS, DL or UA.
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Old Oct 14, 16, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by dmarcus163 View Post
Great. Only question I have us how could you find a F award none same flight for the same miles as a regular coach? Am I confusing a domestic flight in coach compared to an international F for the same 50k?
It's mainly because, on most routes and most aircraft types, the 12,500-mile coach award is the best value for a domestic flight. It is often the first thing to book up.

After that, the next-best option is the 25k F award. You may be thinking "domestic F isn't worth it", but the option looks better if the coach seat is 20k or 30k - or a high paid fare.

Often my domestic AA search will go like this:

(1) Search for cash prices. Ouch, it's a peak date, they're high.
(2) Search for Y awards. Either nothing's there at 12.5k, or maybe the 6AM flight is there.
(3) Search for F awards at 25k. Now I have 3 or 4 options and a couple of connecting cities to pick from.
(4) Decide between a cash seat (usually in Y, perhaps using Thank You Points to pay) or the best 25k F option.

Disclaimer: I'm usually starting at MCI, so I never have a transcon in the mix. On those flights, one might argue that the 25k F award is actually the more desirable seat than the 12.5k coach award. I'm coming from the perspective of RJs and narrowbodies...I'd rather spend fewer miles and be in the back. I'm not sure if my common availability scenario (Y tougher to get than F) holds true on SFO-WAS.
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