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We all get hung up on maximizing our travel credit card rewards and squeezing the most value from them. I know I’m guilty of drooling over pics and stories online where folks have gotten crazy, outsized value from their miles and points – sometimes in excess of 10 cents per point.
I’ve done it too, having booked four Business Class seats for me and the kids from Manila to New York on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. I redeemed American Airlines miles earned from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® and got a value of ~6.6 cents per American Airlines mile.
Yes, it was awesome. But I’d never feel guilty about getting a lower value from my miles and points after this, as long as we’re still getting travel for pennies on the dollar and making lifetime memories. And neither should you!
Don’t Get Anxious About Maximizing Your Points Value
There’s definitely a tendency in our hobby to always get the hottest deals and the biggest bang from our miles and points. Here at MMS, we have dozens and dozens of travel guides to help you make the most of your hard-earned rewards, and a lot of the questions we get are around topics like:
- What are my miles and points worth? (In most cases, it depends on how you use them)
- How do I get the most value from my rewards?
- What mistakes should I avoid with miles and points?
- What are the best redemptions with my miles and points?
It’s the fourth point that’s the kicker because one person’s version of “best” might be tied to value per point and how luxurious or aspirational the redemption is. Others are motivated by getting the most coach flights and budget-friendly hotel stays, or spending time with family and friends and using rewards as a means to achieve those goals.
My point is – don’t get too fussed about using your rewards the way other people do. There’s no right or wrong way to use your travel rewards. Whether you redeem them for international or domestic travel, coach or First Class, Airbnb or luxury hotels – the important thing is to do what you like with them.
Here’s an example: My kids, boyfriend, and I are headed to Maui in a couple of months for a long-awaited tropical vacation. For three of the nights, we’re using Choice hotel points from my guy’s account for a stay at a cute (but not terribly glamorous) Ascend Collection property. At 30,000 points per night, it’s a lot of points for a Choice hotel. Most of their locations cost far fewer points than that, and when you run the numbers we’re getting a value of ~1.1 cents per point.
The value per point certainly isn’t earth-shattering on paper, although it’s above average for Choice points. And you know what – I don’t care. Higher, lower, it doesn’t really matter, because he had the points ready to go and this hotel will suit our needs for that part of our trip. It’s really well reviewed on TripAdvisor and we’ll have a full kitchen, dining area, and plenty of space. So we’re looking forward to a fun stay!
Maybe we could have saved the Choice points for a different redemption, and used other points to book somewhere else instead. I’d probably drive myself crazy fine-tuning and weighing all the different options. If that’s your style – and I know lots of us even on the MMS team get a kick out of doing just that – go for it! Again, whatever makes you the happiest is the best way to use your points.
What about you? Do you try to get the most cents per mile or point when you redeem? Or are you content to just travel for free in whatever way works out for you at the time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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