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Should You Hoard Your Miles or Spend Them?

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One of the great debates in the world of frequent flyer miles is whether you should hoard your miles or spend them as quickly as you earn them. At first, you might think that it makes the most sense to use miles as soon as possible. After all, the value of a mile almost always goes down over time due to airline devaluations, so why not hedge your bets and use your miles as quickly as you earn them? Lets take a look at both options:

Those in Favor of Hoarding

When I first got interested in this hobby, my goal was to amass as many miles and points as possible and then blow them on spectacular trips that included first-class flights and accommodations in luxury hotels.

Different ways to redeem SkyMiles
Different ways to redeem SkyMiles

After taking a few of those once-in-a-lifetime trips, I went on to use mass amounts of miles and points for family reunions and get-togethers with friends. Having access to a tremendous stockpile of miles and points allowed me to achieve both goals, so for a long time I loved the idea of earning and hoarding until I could pull off an amazing trip either a luxury vacation with my husband or a more budget-conscience choice where I took a bunch of family and friends.

I’m still a fan of that way of thinking, but only when I can accrue the miles and points quickly through a combination of flying, spending on rewards-earning credit cards, miles from banking products like checking and investment accounts, shopping through online portals, participating in dining programs, and taking advantage of other promotions.

Why Burn as You Earn Often Makes Sense

However, hoarding loyalty currency for an over-the-top trip isn’t that enticing if its gong to take years and years to earn the necessary miles and points. Why? Devaluations. That’s why. Programs regularly devalue what a mile and point is worth. Don’t take a hit if you don’t have to. If you’re earning miles and points relatively slowly, it might be best to burn as you earn in order to avoid losing any value from what you’ve already earned.

Three Steps to Determining If You Should Hoard or Burn

Knowing your travel goals can help you decide.
Knowing your travel goals can help you decide.

The question of keeping a large stockpile of miles/points or burning them will cross your mind again and again, and you should revisit the issue as your life circumstances and travel goals change over time. Here are the three steps you should take to decide if you should hoard or burn:

  • Have a travel goal and write down the number of miles/points you need to make it happen. Understanding your goal and the amount of loyalty currency it will take to achieve it is where you really have to begin. You cant get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
  • Determine your rate of earning. Take a look at your frequent flyer and hotel loyalty account balances and review where you were three months ago. At this rate of earning, how long will it take you to redeem for your ultimate dream trip?
  • Re-evaluate your plans and adjust your goals. If that dream trip feels too far in the offing after reviewing your earning rate, why not readjust the goal to a trip that’s more manageable in the here and now because it will cost fewer miles and points?

Its best to constantly evaluate the state of your loyalty accounts and then determine how you can get the best value out of those precious miles and points. What’s your philosophy on this? Earn em or burn em?

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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