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While I’d argue some uses of miles are better than others, I’m generally pretty libertarian when it comes to redeeming miles. Redeem them however makes you happy, in my opinion. What matters is that you feel like you got a decent value.
The good news is that for the most part I don’t have to observe others redeeming their miles poorly. If you redeem 50,000 American AAdvantage miles for a domestic economy ticket which would have cost $200, I’d of course be sad if I knew about it. But the good news is that I probably won’t — you’ll book the ticket in the comfort of your home, and probably won’t talk about how much you spent on the plane.
But then sometimes you’re sort of forced to witness really bad uses of miles.
I was at the Admirals Club in Phoenix this morning, and as I was at the front desk, the lady being helped at the counter next to me found out that her Admirals Club membership had expired.
“If you’d like to renew, I can take care of that right now. It will cost either $475 or 70,000 AAdvantage miles.”
“I’ll use miles, that seems easier.”
That’s right, the lady spent 70,000 AAdvantage miles rather than $475. That means she got a value of less than 0.7 cents per mile. And that doesn’t even account for the fact that there are better/cheaper ways to gain access to the Admirals Club, like through the Citi Prestige® Card or Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®.
For reference, 67,500 AAdvantage miles is enough for a one-way Cathay Pacific first class ticket to Asia.
If buying or selling miles didn’t violate AAdvantage terms, I would have jumped up to pay for her membership in exchange for the miles, and would have given her something for the time/inconvenience.
Again, I’m being mildly tongue in cheek here. Ultimately it’s possible that she’s miles-rich and cash-poor. And ultimately I should be grateful that there are people who redeem their miles poorly, because that’s part of what makes these programs sustainable and profitable.
But that doesn’t make it any less painful to be in a situation where you see someone redeem AAdvantage miles for less than 0.7 cents each.
Thanks for letting me vent… I feel much better now!
Has anyone else witnessed a situation where someone redeems miles really sub-optimally and struggled not to say anything?