Should You Buy Airline Miles Now?

No matter how much you miss travel, you’re probably not thrilled with the prospect of getting on a plane anytime soon. But airlines know that sooner or later people will start flying again, and when the time is right, they will want their butts in the seats. You’ve probably seen promotional emails arrive in your inbox, offering miles for your favorite carrier at a big discount.

But if you’re not sure when you will feel comfortable flying again, is it worth buying miles? Or will your attempt to save money be in vain?

Short answer: skip it if you are not planning a specific trip. But even if you have plans for the end of 2020 or next year, purchasing points can still be risky.

“If you’re planning to travel now, even if it’s next year, and you see award tickets for the flights you want right now, so this is a clear savings in miles, that could be helpful,” said Dave Grossman, Consultant and Founder loyalty programs. the MilesTalk.com website. “But even so, you need to keep in mind that your flight may be canceled and you may be sitting on miles.”

But if you don’t normally read airline mileage estimates, you may end up overpaying for your eventual travel.

“The big question right now is what airline ticket prices will look like in a few months when people start traveling,” said Stephen Dashiell, a credit card expert at Finder.com . “Are they going to float where they are now? Or are they going to move up or down? This will ultimately determine the value of the points you purchase and the good deal. ”

Dashiell believes that the best time to buy airline miles is when you are very close to an award flight and need a small amount of money to get over the hump. But it can be difficult to determine how many extra points you will need to book an award flight if you are thinking six or more months ahead. (If you want to know how many airline miles are now compared to last year, check out The Points Guy ‘s pricing guide.) If the airline offers a deal, you often fly to where you have an airline credit card. you may be able to earn these miles from your regular expenses instead of paying for them in advance.

But even if you have a favorite airline, buying points without a redemption plan poses a risk as airlines can devalue their miles and points. As we recently explained , airlines (and any other business offering rewards) can change the value of their points or miles whenever they want. So while you can get a ton of miles for a low cost now that it’s finally time to fly, you may find that your miles won’t earn you as much as you hoped.

Aside from value, there is one more thing to consider when we all start thinking about what life will be like after a pandemic: Will all of your favorite airlines still be around?

Airlines around the world have received more than $ 85 billion from governments, and it can take the aviation industry years to recover from a sudden downturn in air travel.

Grossman advised checking the airline’s financial health before making a major purchase from it.

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