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Here’s Why I Love To Buy Points and Miles for My Travels

Carissa Rawson's image
Carissa Rawson
Carissa Rawson's image

Carissa Rawson

Senior Content Contributor

270 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 51U.S. States Visited: 36

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business ...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

101 Published Articles 710 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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The whole point of using travel rewards is to avoid shelling out your hard-earned money for vacations. But in many cases, buying points and miles can make much more sense, which may not seem like a traditional approach to earning and burning rewards.

Here are some of the reasons why purchasing points and miles are worth it.

Why You Should Buy Points and Miles

I love to earn a good credit card welcome offer as much as the next person. You name it, I have nearly all of the best travel credit cards out there.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express? I have 3. The World of Hyatt Credit Card? I’m making that card work on my Hyatt reservations.

However, credit card issuers have many restrictions when it comes to applying for new cards. For instance, Chase’s unofficial 5/24 application rule considers all the cards you’ve opened in a certain time frame — even when they aren’t with Chase.

Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve Upgraded Points LLC
Be sure to brush up on Chase’s 5/24 rule before applying. Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Combined with the number of cards I already have — plus the limits I face with card issuers — I’m really out of luck when it comes to getting new cards. Sure, my wallet is maximized so that I’m able to earn as many rewards as possible with everyday spending, but that can only go so far.

This takes me to my next alternative: purchasing points and miles.

Hot Tip:

Maximize your rewards by ensuring you’re using the best credit cards for everyday spending so you’re earning more than just 1 point or mile per dollar spent.

When it Makes Sense To Buy Points and Miles

Before we dive in, it’s worth clarifying that I don’t just buy points on a whim. When they aren’t on sale, they can be grossly overpriced. But there are absolutely situations when it makes sense — and can be an even better option than transferring points to your frequent flyer account.

Furthermore, we only recommend purchasing points and miles when they’re on sale, and only when you need a few more thousand miles for a redemption. That’s because you’ll end up paying just as much — or more — to buy points compared to booking travel with cash.

Not only that, but you lose out on the ability to earn any rewards when redeeming points and miles.

Get Discounted Hotel Stays

Let’s say, for example, that you want to stay at the Conrad Bora Bora, which is one of my all-time favorite hotels. It goes without saying that it’s a really expensive hotel, both with points or cash. For example, the base room regularly runs $2,000+ per night or 120,000 points per night.

Conrad Bora Bora cost
A sample of nightly rates at the Conrad Bora Bora. Image Credit: Hilton

I certainly don’t have $10,000 sitting around for a stay, nor do I have millions of Hilton points. But Hilton regularly sells its points for 0.5 cents each. Combined with Hilton’s fifth night free benefit offered to elite status members, you’d be able to purchase 480,000 points for just $2,400. By purchasing points, you’re scoring a significant discount from the true cash cost.

This strategy isn’t just limited to cardaholics like me. It’s also a good option for those who don’t want to open a million credit cards just to book your next vacation.

Buy Airline Miles for a Discount

Here’s another example of when I might buy miles. Avianca frequently offers sales on its miles, and at the time of writing, its current buy miles promotion gives you up to a 160% bonus. In other words, the per-mile rate drops down to 1.27 cents each.

You can really see the value in this when it comes to high-end award redemptions, such as booking a first class Lufthansa flight.

MUC EWR Lufthansa first class
One of the best award redemptions you can make with LifeMiles. Image Credit: Avianca

You can choose to buy 87,500 miles with a 150% bonus for roughly $1,155. If you were to pay cash, you’d be out nearly $10,000 for the same flight.

MUC EWR cash rate
The same fare if you were to pay cash. Image Credit: Google

There are other ways to make purchasing miles even more enticing. Recently, Avianca LifeMiles launched 2 new U.S. credit cards:

  • Avianca LifeMiles American Express Elite Card
  • Avianca LifeMiles American Express Credit Card

They both come with 1 perk that’s pretty interesting: a complimentary Club LifeMiles (LifeMiles+) subscription. This membership acts a monthly subscription plan to purchase discounted LifeMiles and pretty generous perks.

Avianca Club LifeMiles
While some of these are limited to credit card holders, even those who purchase a Lifemiles+ membership separately get access to the best benefits. Image Credit: Avianca

These include the ability to change or cancel your flights for free, which has always been a huge pain point for those booking flights with Avianca LifeMiles. Combine this with a 10% discount on Star Alliance flights, and purchasing one of these subscriptions quickly becomes a lucrative idea for those without an Avianca credit card.

Back to our Lufthansa first class flight example above, here’s how the math would shake out with a LifeMiles+ subscription:

  • Buy 106,600 miles for $1,353 with a 160% bonus
  • Stack this with the LifeMiles+ subscription (the $20 version) for a 10% rebate on the flight
  • Pay 78,300 miles for the first class flight
  • Keep 28,300 miles left over from the rebate for your next flight!

Final Thoughts

Buying points and miles is certainly not for everyone. There is a hefty cost associated with buying points, but if you play your cards right, you can end up traveling indefinitely while still saving a ton of money in the process. It has worked for me so far, and I intend to keep doing it until it no longer makes sense.

The information regarding the Avianca LifeMiles American Express Elite Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Avianca LifeMiles American Express Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Carissa Rawson's image

About Carissa Rawson

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business Insider, Forbes, and more.

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