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One of the things that we’ve said before that using miles for economy flights is often not a great use of your points

(SEE ALSO: The folly and fallacy of using miles for economy tickets)

And it’s true, from a certain point of view, that it’s often “better” to use cash (or cash-type points) for economy flights and save your points for premium cabin travel. On the other hand, I’ve often said that the “best” use of miles is the one that gets you where you want to go when you want to go there

Flying to New Zealand

I’ve been working with 2 friends of mine here that have been planning a trip to New Zealand to visit a friend of theirs. This trip has been in the works for nearly a year, and we’ve worked together to get them the credit cards that would get them there. Looking through the different miles to the South Pacific, we decided on using 40,000 United miles one way. So they signed up for the Chase Ink card (currently a welcome offer of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards), Chase Sapphire Preferred (50,000 Ultimate Rewards), and the United MileagePlus Explorer Card (50,000 United miles at the time; currently 40,000).

After months of collecting the points, this weekend they finally had all the points, a rough plan of what they wanted to do, so we looked over at united.com

When we looked at availability a few months ago, availability to New Zealand (even from a non-hub like CVG) was really good. Now, only a few months prior, it was not quite as good, but still there was enough availability that we could find flights on the dates that we were looking for

And because we booked a roundtrip using United miles, we could use the United Excursionist Perk to add an extra flight within the region (South Pacific) for free, which we used to book a trip down to the South Island.

How much “value” did we get?

So, how much “value” did we get for the 80,000 Chase / United miles that we spent?

$2462 / 80,000 United miles is just about 3.0 cpp (cents per point). Now the same caveats that normally apply with this type of analysis apply. If you were ACTUALLY buying a cash ticket, you probably wouldn’t book all the intra-New Zealand legs as part of the ticket, nor do the open jaw that we did. By finding a fare sale, and maybe stitching together a ticket with intra-New Zealand legs going for ~$50-70 or so, you might have been able to find it cheaper. Still this way, with everything being on one ticket, they won’t have to worry about being on connecting flights on different airlines and dealing with any type of irregular operations.

Still, this is just one more example of a potential sweet spot for using miles in economy

Now it’s your turn – leave your best redemption for using miles to fly economy in the comments!

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