There are many people out there who think that redeeming their points by buying a charcoal grill is the best they can manage. Granted, it is the satisfaction that counts when you are dealing with something that is not really currency, but the thing with airline miles, hotel points, and credit card points, is that they are trying to get you to settle for less. When using air miles, for instance, you need to do it before they hit expiration.
Redeeming miles for merchandise
You may want to jump in and buy something that is on the rewards redemption brochure, but these things are usually priced more than they are at a retail store. What this means is that if you buy the thing simply because your mileage suffices for it, you will not get good returns on the mile, and once cent is reasonable.
Transferring miles for free
If there is someone you know that needs to book awards travel, but you are the one with sufficient mileage in your account, you should just do the booking yourself. Many people send their miles over to the other person’s account, and find out the hard way that it cost them 1 to 2 cents for every mile transferred. To book, the airline charges around 20 dollars for every transferred mile. What the sender pays ends up wiping out his transferred miles.
This too is a good way of using air miles and get duped on the cent per mile return on your balance. Often it turns out that you could have booked the same hotel for much less with cash, instead of trying something for a 0.7-cent return on the mile.
These usually pay less than transferring to miles, or trading in miles to cash, such as on an AmEx card. They let you pay the excise fee using your points, but the rate is too bad to fall for.
Trade in miles to cash
Handing in your miles to cash returns seems the only smart play if you are too lazy to watch what you spend them on, which some of us are. The thing about rewards is that they are worthless the harder you try redeeming them. Why not offer them up using a mileage broker like YYZ Miles. You can let go of airline miles to cash in significantly more than the returns from any form of redemption. Head to the offer page and fill in details, and they will call you when a buyer matches the asking price.