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When Is the Best Time to Redeem Miles (Travel Points)?


Besides point-saver promotions, where you can redeem travel points for markedly less than usual, there’s no opportune time to cash in your miles. That said, there are reasons to bank points for worthwhile opportunities.

Most reward programs offer a catalogue of goods and services that you can buy with your travel points. These are easier to attain and help people spend their earnings before expiration dates. Unfortunately, merchandise is often one of the least valuable transactions a rewards member can make. This is because the value of each point is completely relative.

To explain, let’s consider the following three eligible rewards. (Note: Retail values and point ranges are merely estimates).

  1. Domestic return flight retailed at $520 and redeemable for 10,000 points.
  2. Flat screen TV retailed at $325 and redeemable for 7500 points.
  3. Restaurant gift vouchers valued at $50 and redeemable to 2000 points.

Now consider the relative dollar value in each scenario: (1) $0.05 per point, (2) $0.04 per point and (3) $0.02 per point. For most programs, the value per point differs depending on its application. Almost always, your point is worth its least when buying merchandise.

Last-Minute Flight Purchases and Upgrades

Typically, points reach their highest value on international flights; domestic flights are just too inexpensive to maximize your points’ worth. However, there are ways of getting more out of points spent on domestic flights.

  1. Updating: Domestic flights can grow costly when purchasing preferred seating and other luxury services.Points can offset the cost of travelling first-class domestic.
  2. Buying last-minute tickets: When booking flights a day or two in advance, airlines gouge on airfare.Using your points can make last-minute flights more affordable.