Travel Hacking for Dummies: How to Understand Value In Award Flight​s

Never jump on the first flight you find


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When you first enter the world of points and miles, it’s easy to dive on the first flight you see. It’s free travel; how could it be wrong? 

But as you progress, you start to see how much further your points can go and how making a decision in the short term can end up losing you money down the line. Here’s an example.

You just earned a 60,000-point intro bonus on your first Amex travel card. A sudden wedding comes up in LA, and you need to fly from New York. Knowing you have points, you log into your Delta account, transfer the points, and book the first flight that makes sense. It costs you 60,000 points for the return flight. In cash, it would have cost you $450. You feel happy you didn’t spend that money.

A few months later, you’re planning a trip to Paris. Prices are rough, with returns costing as much as $1200. KLM has some flights listed for just 15,000 points one-way. But your points are gone.

If you had understood the LA flight was poor value, you could have spent $450 and flown to Paris and back with points to spare. Instead, you’re left paying $1200.

Always research prices and typical point rates. Value matters in this game.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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