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Five Ways to Use Airline Miles for Best Value

Airline miles to a corporate traveler can be like a stethoscope to a doctor- a much needed tool. Those who travel frequently look forward to racking up the miles and claiming rewards and perks along the way. There are numerous ways to use your miles. Below are five ways to use airline miles for best value.

The monetary value of airline miles is not the same as cash. Most frequent flyer programs award mileage per dollar spent. On average, one airline mile is equivalent to about .02 in US dollars. Most programs award a mile or two for each dollar spent. Using this formula, how can a frequent traveler get the best value for their earned miles or points?

Five Ways to Use Airline Miles for Best Value

Book Your Flights as Early as Possible

Booking your flight as early as possible may get you a greater value for your miles. Another way for better value is to call the airline directly to inquire about flights that are not published yet online.

Save up Miles and Spend on that ‘bucket list’ trip

The accumulation of airline miles over a period of time can earn a traveler the trip of a lifetime. You need to decide what is the bigger value, the cost of the flight in cash or airline miles. Do not forget to factor in any award booking fees that the awards program may have. One corporate traveler squirreled frequent flyer miles for over a year and spent 100,000 earned miles and $20 cash. The actual cost for two first class tickets (one way) and two coach tickets (for the return flight) from Philadelphia to Honolulu has a retail value of $6500.

Use Miles/Points with Airline Partners

Many airline reward programs have partnerships with hotels where you can use your miles for hotel stays. In many cases, room upgrades or meals may be available in exchange for mileage. Many of these programs are reciprocal. This means that if you earn points for hotel stays where flying is not involved, you can possibly redeem hotel points for frequent flyer miles.

Upgrade Your Ticket Class

If you are on your way to another long flight and you are not looking forward to sitting in a coach seat, consider using your mileage bank for an upgrade. The options may be a mileage redemption only or a combination of miles and cash payment. The cost of the upgrade may be significantly less than if the higher-class seat was booked when the reservation was originally made. Many airlines offer a class upgrade right at check in in order to fill that seat.

Bid on Unique Experiences

Many corporate travelers can get opportunities through their frequent flyer programs for unique experiences. These experiences may not get offered to them otherwise. Many airlines and hotel chains allow members to use miles to bid on events such as meet and greets with celebrities, sporting events, concerts and galas. These events are usually not open to the general public at any price, but members can get exclusive deals like an insider in the specific industry would.

There are many perks for corporate travelers when they accumulate airline miles and/or points. Do some research into your plan and you will discover a vast amount of opportunities to use these miles for activities, shopping or hotel stays. Traveler’s Q can help you determine the best values for your airline miles or points.