Go the Extra Mile: Expert Advice on Redeeming Air Travel Miles

Author: Priyanka Saxena on Mar 10,2021

You won’t believe, one of the main reasons, frequent air travelers apply for credit cards so they can get access to a variety of reward programs. There are a plethora of credit card reward programs that allow you to redeem air travel rewards through cruises, flights & even trains. This is the only key benefit of using a rewards credit card or maybe joining a frequent flyer program— that it enables air travelers to redeem these rewards for free flights. However, during the pandemic, while the world had almost stopped moving from their cocoons, the reward points could not have been used on air travel. 


Last summer around 48% of air travelers in America canceled their flights due to the pandemic. But the good news is you do not have to let go of your Points+miles— you can hold them off for future luxury vacations or can use them to stretch your budget in a number of ways. In essence, a lot of air travel giants partner with a multitude of companies to give users a variety of redemption options. This article talks about how you can use your air travel points miles even if you are not flying anytime soon. Let’s dive deeper:


9 Ways to Redeem Your Air Travel Mile


Donate Your Extra Miles



With most airlines, air travelers get an option to donate their extra miles directly to a number of non-government organizations. Fliers can donate their extra miles through the air travel redemption site itself. Isn’t that cool? For instance, with Delta Air Lines flier miles, you can have access to a multitude of charity partners where you can donate your saved miles— like the Habitat for Humanity. Most domestic airlines like JetBlue, and American Airlines, have added a wide range of options when it comes to donating air travel miles— most of these organizations belong to health issues, military family supports & environmentally friendly travel. That’s a superb way of not letting your extra miles go wasted. 


Buy Something Using Points & SAVE Your CASH



That’s about saving your cash on a number of things— whether you are looking forward to sprucing your kitchen shelf or wishing to get your interiors redone, or buy yourself some brand new travel bags, you can save some extra CASH using the airline miles. But this facility of miles redemption for merchandise is not available on every airline and not for every air traveler. This form of miles redemption is available to elite flyers or to those who possess the airline’s co-branded credit card. For instance, Delta Airlines provides such a redemption facility to those customers who have Delta SkyMiles Amex card or are Medallion Members — only these customers can redeem their miles for merchandise. Some US airlines also have the option to allow flyers to redeem their miles for Apple products. 


Convert Miles to CASH



There are broader programs that will allow you to convert your saved miles into cash— and what can be better than that—  so you can buy anything you wish to with that cash. Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards give the option to get 1 cent for every point. While you get better value when you use these points for air travel, it is always good to get whatever value you can in CASH when you are not traveling any time soon. But at the same time, you should know that the value of these points is always very poor when it is redeemed in the form of cash, gift cards or merchandise shopping is always very poor. Before initiating the redemption try to compare the value with hotel stays, cash, merchandise, or others. 


Book a Hotel



Many families love to plan staycations and after the coronavirus pandemic, this has been a great idea to get the feel of a vacation. There have been several air travel bans and restrictions going around for a long time and however, we have been able to crack the vaccine, the pandemic is still among us. So, if you don’t feel comfortable going far for your much-awaited luxury vacation, you can always book a hotel, stay and enjoy a vacation-like atmosphere. You can find places that are just about driving distance from your den and book the best hotel using your saved miles. This is an amazing way of experiencing a change in the environment and enjoying some exciting activities. If you want to enjoy a cheap vacation, you can pack some food and enjoy a staycation with family and friends. You should always keep tabs on your air travel miles redemption options.


Plan for Your Future Trips



Since the outbreak of coronavirus, a number of air travel carriers have started giving the option to book beforehand for future travelers with their risk-free cancellations programs. So you can get your plan done beforehand and book your flight on the dates you feel could be comfortable for you & your family to travel without worries. But, in the rush don’t lock your miles up for a trip that you might not be able to take up. Book for your future travel plan only when you are very sure about it— don’t plan a trip you are not sure about. And, before redeeming your points+miles, check the official page of the air travel carrier, they all have different cancellation policies and it keeps on changing. 


Get Gift Cards



Another way you can redeem your air travel miles if you are not going to travel any time soon is by stocking up a gift card for your favorite spa, restaurant & shopping store. For instance, with 5,000 points you can redeem a $50 gift card to The Cheesecake Factory if you are a member of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card. The United MileagePlus members have access to purchasing eGift cards from more than 200 merchants including Grubhub, Outback Steakhouse & Starbucks. If you want to understand the pros and cons of credits, check out this article. 


Get Subscription to Newspapers, Magazines & more.



There are a number of air travel miles programs that offer an option to redeem your unused points for newspapers & magazine subscriptions— and the good news is that you can get the subscription for only a few miles. For instance, American Airlines offers the Financial Times subscription for less than 4,000 points. Likewise, several other airlines get you a chance to subscribe to popular magazines and newspapers— you can get all the information of points redemption on the official site of the brand. This is one of the best ways to keep yourself entertained almost for free, if you do not have enough travel plans in the coming few days. 


Give a Gift



You can bring a smile to your loved ones’ faces by gifting them your miles! So if any birthdays, anniversaries, or a milestone is approaching— gift the person your miles so they can plan their vacations without spending a fortune. This is one of the best ways to better make use of your saved miles if you have no air travel plans in the upcoming months. While most airlines give their customers an option to transfer their miles directly to anyone’s account they wish, however, each of them has its own policies, so review the official website before jumping into it. Know that the recipient has to be enrolled into the airlines’ loyalty program to be able to receive miles— so ask the recipient to sign up if he is not signed up. 


Redeem Your Points for Exclusive Experiences



Many air travel carriers allow flyers to redeem their miles for exclusive experiences like a video chat session with their favorite football stars, or sometimes a virtual wine tasting session with a popular winemaker. This is one of the most FUN ways to redeem your saved airline miles— it could bring you a lifetime experience and that too for FREE. If you have Delta SkyMiles you can do a virtual cooking demonstration with Chef Michael Mina that can be bought with 12,000 miles. So, even if you are not traveling there are other easy ways you can redeem your saved points+miles. Keep calm & keep saving your miles...Go the extra mile!!


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