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Always crunch the numbers
Alaska puts their miles on sale quite often. In fact, we’ve seen twice this year where they’ve offered their miles for just 2.1 cents a piece. But, does it ever make sense to buy those miles when they aren’t on sale? Sure…if the deal is there. I came upon an incredible example of why it always pays to check the mileage vs the purchase price. I’d never advocate buying points speculatively, and certainly not at full price, but that doesn’t mean they can’t serve a strategic purpose at point of purchase.
Here is the cost for a number of transcon Virgin America flights
The very cheapest are ringing in at $1300, but if you want any part of the day in NYC it’ll set you back almost $2200
Now, look at the price in miles…
It’d be great to have purchased these for just 2.1 cents. Those $2000 flights would cost you roughly $500. The problem? The miles aren’t discounted right now….so how much would it cost to boost your account?
Less than $750 – a savings between $500 and almost $1500 to the retail price.
So yes, even when points are full price, they can pose a competitive advantage to buying the flight with cash.
This is a very basic example and doesn’t take into consideration the points you’d earn from paying for the flights, or things like elite status re-qualification, if you’d score an upgrade from coach, etc. It’s simply to illustrate the importance of checking various ways of booking the same ticket, as some real deals can be had.
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