Given the new onslaught of readers from all around the world this week, we here at OMAAT are operating on somewhat of a “back to basics bootcamp” mentality, to welcome those new to miles, points and “gaming” the travel industry — and also to remind regular readers that we can all lose sight of common sense from time to time when we’re caught up dreaming of champagne and caviar service at 35,000 feet.
Nearly everyone I know has some sort of airline- or hotel-affiliated credit card, though very few of my friends know what to do with all the points they accrue. I find myself scratching my head when my friends tell me they have 50,000 miles generated from credit card spend on Airline A, which they hate, because they love flying Airline B so much more.
More to the point, I’ll see friends excitedly “cash in” 25,000 points — or far more — for a domestic economy ticket, simply because it’s possible and because the credit card companies have taught us, as a society, that you can get a free roundtrip domestic economy ticket! is an aspirational goal.
Now, there are certainly instances when domestic coach awards can make sense, especially around holiday periods when ticket prices might border on criminal…. however, in those peak periods, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to snag a “low-level” 25,000 mile roundtrip to begin with.
While there’s a mantra on this website to “earn and burn” versus hoard miles, the sweet spot in the value of miles is long-haul premium cabin travel, which can cost upwards of 150,000 miles per roundtrip ticket, depending on airline and destination. So it is worth building up your mileage vault and not draining it in 25,000-50,000 increments on domestic trips that might only cost $300 out of pocket. Credit card signup bonuses, which can earn you as much as 100,000 miles off the bat, really help in this regard.