Sometimes we don’t have the patience or time to accumulate miles through Manufactured Spending, but we also don’t want to pay full price for the premium cabin airfare or high-end hotel. For situations like this, buying points is sometimes an acceptable middle ground because of it’s speed and simplicity.
While you can generally buy points/miles in any program at any time, there are currently several buy miles offers that can help increase your balance in various programs. Let’s go through some of the the noteworthy ones to see if it’s really worth it to buy the miles.
Note that most points purchases are made through Points.com.
- 5,000 – 19,000 miles, get a 20% Bonus
- 20,000 – 34,000 miles, get a 30% Bonus
- 35,000 – 40,000 miles, get a 40% Bonus
Note that you can buy up to 4 times per credit card, so you can buy a lot more miles than what’s listed.
Is it worth it? Buying miles with a 40% bonus means you’ll be paying just under 2 cents per point. This deal happens fairly regularly, but I still consider this to be a good deal because of the redemptions you can get out of it. Specifically, Emirates Airlines First Class can be had at a somewhat reasonable rate compared to the actual cash price. You can fly one-way from the US to the following:
- Dubai in Emirates Business Class for ~$1,424
- Dubai in Emirates First Class for ~$1,768
- Hong Kong in Emirates Business Class for ~$1,473
- Hong Kong in Emirates First Class for ~$1,965
All of the above routes can be done entirely on the Emirates A380, which features an on-board shower in First Class. These flights have recently become easier to book using Alaska as well.
The LifeMiles program has some tremendous positives to go along with tremendous negatives. One of the positives is that they somewhat regularly have sold miles for just 1.5 cents each during a 100% bonus period, like the one going on now. This will be the last chance to buy at this rate as the price will increase to 1.6 cents each going forward (assuming they continue to have these promotions)
I recently wrote a full analysis detailing the many positives and negatives, so I encourage you to read that post. One thing I’ll point out here is that this program will devalue on October 15th, so keep that in mind.
Is it worth it? It’s hard for me to make a recommendation because of the many quirks of this program. Instead, I’ll say that this program is extremely valuable to me personally and I plan to take advantage of it (and already have to a small extent).
Southwest Airlines’ frequent flyer program has revenue-based redemptions, which means that the cost of a flight in points is directly tied to the cash price of that flight. You can generally redeem your points for anywhere between 1.6 cents each and 2 cents each, but through this promotion you’d be buying points at just over 2 cents each. That means the best you can do is break even.
Is it worth it? Quite simply, no. You can buy the ticket for the same price or cheaper than you can buy these points.
Word on the street is that this will be the last chance to buy US Airways miles for a while. You can get up to a 100% bonus through 9/30/14 [Update: this has now been extended to 10/14/14] when you buy or gift miles according to the following:
- 1,000 to 9,000 points = 25% bonus
- 10,000 to 19,000 points = 50% bonus
- 20,000 to 29,000 points = 75% bonus
- 30,000 to 50,000 points = 100% bonus
Is it worth it? Buying the miles with a 100% bonus means you’ll be buying them at 1.88 cents each. To put that into perspective, that would mean you can fly round trip from the US to:
- Hawaii in Business/First Class for ~$1,504
- Europe in Business Class for ~$1,881
- Africa in Business Class for ~$2,068
- Middle East in Business Class for ~$2,256
- North Asia in First Class for ~$2,256
It’s still expensive, but generally much cheaper than you would otherwise pay for the flights. Keep in mind you’ll have to find award availability still.