Are Points Better Than Miles?

The Best Options for Travelers

Author: The Traveling Professor/Thursday, March 9, 2017/Categories: Save on Airfare, General Travel

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I have accumulated millions of airline miles in my travel career through credit card purchases, various bonuses, and through flying.  Most of them on American Airlines.  Over the years I have found these miles to become devalued as time goes on, there are more fees associated with redeeming these miles, airlines have put up roadblocks and inconveniences in redeeming these miles, and airlines have reduced mile award redemption availability.

Last year I signed up for a credit card (Chase Sapphire Reserve) with a 100,000 point bonus, a $300 travel credit, and a Priority Pass which is an airport lounge access card.   The fee for the card was $450.

Every 100 points is worth $1 in travel.  So, when I use the Chase website to book travel (the site is much like Expedia, but not that extensive) the points are applied to my travel cost.  So, I can book up to $1500 in travel with 100,000 points.   There are no restrictions, no additional fees, I can book any coach class flight I wish.  When I book an American Airlines flight with my AAdvantage frequent flyer account number, I am given all the benefits of my elite status PLUS my air miles.

There is no doubt points offer much more flexibility in terms of booking flights.  However, on the Chase website I saw no option for booking first-class flights or booking upgrades.

Let's get down and do the math on a typical flight I take.  It costs $397 for a R/T flight I regularly take between Hartford (BDL) and Dallas (DFW).  If available, I can get it by redeeming 25,000 AA miles, which I need to spend $25,000 on my credit card to accrue.  However, I need to spend $26,466 to get the points needed to buy that $397 fare.  Of course every situation is different, depending on the airfare paid.

So, are points better?  In my opinion they are in terms of the flexibility a traveler has in redeeming those points. It seems to me that it has become easier and easier to accrue air miles, but what good are they if there are so many restrictions on using them, they have such diminished value?

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