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Conventional wisdom says that using your miles for simple domestic economy travel is typically NOT the best usage of your miles.  Sure, there are some exceptions like using 4500 British Airways Avios for short-haul flights (soon going up to a minimum of 7500 Avios!), but I’ve heard the conventional wisdom is that it’s “only” international first class flights where you can get truly outsized value for your miles.

If you want to fly domestic economy flights, the conventional wisdom says, you’re best off putting your spend on a 2% cashback card and using the cashback to pay cash for your tickets.  You’re unlikely to get more than 2 cents per mile, and paying cash for your tickets also allows you to EARN miles on your ticket

This is an overly simplistic rendering of the viewpoint, and ignore credit card signup bonuses, but that is what I hear most of the time.

Flying our family of 8 from Seattle

For an upcoming trip, we need a one-way ticket back from Seattle.  American and United both have no availability, and Southwest does not fly to Cincinnati.  Delta’s availability was actually pretty good – there were SEVERAL flights with 8 Saver level seats available (for 12,500 miles each)

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As we know, one way to look at it is to compare it to the cash price.  Here’s the cash prices for Delta flights on that same day.

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It’s hard to know exactly what price to use – the flight we ended up booking with our 100,000 Skymiles is one of those $458 ones, so our 100,000 miles saved us $3,664 for our 8 seats, or about 3.64 cents per mile (not bad, Skypesos!)

The actual value is probably a little less than that, since we probably would have booked the $336 one, or maybe a $255 flight on American, but even that cheaper American flight comes out at 2.04 cpm, and the timings are actually pretty bad (2 stops and a 4 hour layover in Milwaukee).

So what do you think?  Is redeeming miles on domestic economy a bad thing, or would you have done something else?  What’s your “worst” miles redemption ever been?

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