If you look at my website, it's pretty obvious that I LOVE traveling. Of course, I love points and miles because they help reduce our travel cost. Over the last 2 years, we've upped our travel rewards game and were able to utilize points and miles to reduce our travel expenses.
How many 'transactions' did it take to redeem our two tickets to Iceland over the course of 1.5 years? 23 to be exact...lol!
So how do we value our points and miles? The Points Guy posts a monthly update of how much point or mile is worth for each loyalty program, which gives us a sense of how much our points and miles are worth. While it's good to have a basis to ballpark whether or not a redemption is worthwhile, it may also lead to people getting too hung up on maximizing the 'value' of a redemption. That first class flight with a 5 figures price tag may have a great redemption value, but some people may see more value using that same amount of miles for two separate trips in coach instead.
We've gotten some great redemption values in the past but there were also times when we chose to use points/miles even if the redemption value is not that great. Yes, we may not get a $0.02/mile 'value', but a dollar saved is a dollar saved, especially when we know we are going to spend it anyway. Remember, it is not a competition on who gets the most cost per mile out of a redemption, because nobody really cares about it, apart from yourself.
Ultimately, like beauty, the true value of points and miles is in the eye of the beholder. As for us, the point of having points and miles is to have the ability to use them when we needed and when it fits our travel plans. For a frugal travel enthusiast like me, I treat every points and miles like money (even when it's technically 'free') and had been optimizing them to avoid using our hard-earned after-tax money for travel expenses.
Here's a summary of the trips we took with/without points and miles over the last 3 years:
Surprisingly, the number of trips we took didn't increase even when we accumulated more points and miles (partly because hubby switched job and has only 10 days of vacation). From a 5D4N Colorado trip costing $1,430, to a 20D19N round-the-world trip across 5 countries costing $1,248, we've definitely come a long way. =P
What's the value of our most recent redemption to Iceland?
According to Google flight, the average price of the same roundtrip flight from Huntsville to Iceland is at least $800/person ($740 net of taxes). That makes the cost per mile of our redemption 1.2 cents ($740/60,000) per mile, not great but I'd much rather not pay $1,500 out-of-pocket for two tickets. I also had a $100 Delta gift card from work so our out-of-pocket cost was really only $18.
We could have probably found cheaper flights (e.g. WOW) from other US cities, but we would still need to find a way to get to those airport. It would have been better if we were able to use only 49,000 miles (the redemption we cancelled last year) but I didn't mind using 60,000 miles for this trip because we've been wanting to visit Iceland and I've got a good bit of Delta miles sitting around. Besides, I've got Platinum status with Delta this year so I might as well enjoy some of the perks while I can. =)
How do you value of points and miles? Do you use travel rewards to save money, or to splurge on experiences that you wouldn't or couldn't afford to pay for?
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