After years of using a cash back rewards card as my primary credit card, I switched over to a mileage card – the Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express – last summer. I’m earning a mile per eligible dollar spent, with double miles for every eligible dollar spent on Delta Air Lines and Delta vacation purchases, and bonus chunks of MQM miles for specified spending tiers.
So far, I’ve been able to bump myself up in terms of flyer status thanks to the MQM miles, and I’ve also piled up a ton of miles that can be used toward free flights. But how much are these miles really worth?
In the past, I’ve valued miles at about $0.01/each, which would mean that this is essentially a 1% cash back credit card. But with airfares on the rise, I’ve started to re-think this valuation even though airlines have been making reward tickets harder to find and/or devaluing the miles by increasing the number of miles required
Last fall, I booked my wife a $450 ticket for 25, 000 miles. More recently, I was able to book a couple of $760 tickets for 32, 500 miles apiece. In the first case, I got 1.8 cents/mile. In the second case, I got 2.3 cents per mile.
In other words, I’ve been getting in the neighborhood of $0.02/mile, which is the equivalent of 2% cash back – not too shabby. Of course, I’m paying a $150 annual fee for this card, but that’s well worth it to me when you consider the additional perks…
For starters, I get a “companion” certificate each year upon my Cardmembership anniversary (government taxes and fees are my responsibility to pay) as well as free checked bags when I fly Delta (includes up to nine people on my reservation). On top of that, the improved flyer status thanks to the bonus MQM miles gets me the occasional upgrade, access to exit row seats (I’m tall, so this matters), pre-boarding privileges, etc.
What about you? How much are your frequent flyer miles worth to you? Do you have any tips for maximizing their value? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
*Note: While the prices listed above sound a bit high, those were the going rates for the routes in question regardless of which airline we chose. In both cases, these were relatively expensive routes, and the purchases were somewhat last minute. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the flexibility to choose our dates.