Why I Still Love Frequent Flyer Miles

If my math is wrong in this post, please tell me. It’s not because I’m a girl, but I am not that good at math.

Years ago, before I was into coupons, I was into frequent flyer miles. I mean, really into them, as in logged onto the FlyerTalk discussion board several times every day.

By participating in promotions, using my AAdvantage credit card, and flying around a bit when we used to live in California and visited family in the Midwest several times a year, I amassed a decent pile of miles that I wanted to use for my husband and I to go on an amazing trip to Asia — in First Class on Cathay Pacific. Or maybe Australia and Tuva! My travel fantasies were endless, and it looked like they would come true.

Why didn’t we take our dream trip BEFORE getting pregnant with our first child? Somehow, I can’t remember that part just now.

As the years past and the value of miles fell, what with seats getting harder to claim and airline bankruptcies threatening to take it all away, I gave in and frittered away a lot of our miles on domestic trips. Back when I was a Flyertalk devotee, I knew very well that you dont’ spend miles on regular domestic travel! You save them for international trips or last-minute ones, when the tickets you’re buying are much more valuable in dollar terms so you’re getting more cents per mile.

I figured that we were better off using the miles than saving them for a better use, since they seemed to be losing value all the time. And that’s generally held as a sensible view.

But today I got to use some of my old stash on “something better,” and oh, it felt good!

See, the hubs just found out he is being sent to an international city* on a business trip. For a job interview, that is. I want to go along, to check the place out, but that was going to be on my dime. The last-minute direct flight I wanted to book? $2,563.48.


I got it for 37,500 miles. It would have been just 25,000 miles if I could have flown out on Thursday instead of Friday, but still. I got almost 7 cents a mile! These days, anything over a penny a mile is considered a good deal.

So today I’m glad I held onto at least some of my miles stash, and have kept using that AAdvantage credit card even though BillShrink told me I’d be better off with a card that pays cash rewards. If I’d been using a card that pays 1% cashback, I would have had to spend $256,348 to earn enough rewards to pay for that plane ticket in cash.

* Not as glamorous as it sounds. Think, I really close by international city.

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