About half-way through a day of tourism, significant beer consumption and various other fun, a group of five of us were relaxing in Panama City and started talking about our frequent flier account balances and dream trips that we were looking to book. One guy said he had ~150,000 points. Another mentioned ~95,000. And then I noted that I had 206. The reply, “Well 206,000 isn’t so bad.” No. Two. Hundred. Six. Suffice it to say that the group all got very quiet.
How is it possible that someone flying as much as I am only has 206 points in their primary earning account? Quite simple, really: I burn them, too. A lot. I’ve burned somewhere in the range of 750,000 points in the past 18 months on trips all over the world. A lot of trips, most of them in the pointy end of the plane, and the miles disappear just as quickly as they show up in the account. If I had been earning more miles I’d almost certainly have burned more, too.
Moral of the story? Burn your points as you earn them. If you want to keep one ticket’s worth in an “emergency reserve” that might make sense, but with the way the airlines treat the programs it is important to remember that generally speaking the points will never have more value in the future than they do right now.
And, lest anyone be worried for me, that balance is recovering nicely and I still have more than 500,000 points socked away in various accounts, all of which are looking to be redeemed in the future.
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