Perhaps the worst points redemption option I’ve ever seen

Redeeming points for anything other than the travel awards of the program in which they were earnt is rarely a good value. Rather than giving away product that they own the loyalty program is buying something and selling it back to you so the value generally suffers based on the higher costs. Compounding that issue is the fact that awards with a fixed cash value – gift cards, statement credits and the like – are generally even less of a deal since the fixed costs have very little, if any, margin for the retailers to work with. Combine that with the fact that generally preys on the uninformed to exploit their frustrations and fleece them on trade or redemption costs and you have something resembling a perfect storm: redemptions for PayPal credit.

I knew going in that the numbers would be bad. I just had no idea they would be this bad. The PayPal redemption option is currently available for three programs, American Airlines AAdvantage, US Airways Dividend Miles and Air Canada Aeroplan. The conversion rates vary as shown in the screen captures below, ranging from bad to terrible to so unbelievably horrible that I ran the check three times because I thought there was a mistake in it. Yeah, it is simply awful.

imageAeroplan points hold the highest value in the conversion scheme, with 17,734 points converting to $100 in PayPal credit. At 100,000 points (roughly $600 in PayPal credit) you can get a round-trip first class ticket from North America to Europe. So, yeah, the ratio is pretty bad.

A CDN$250 AmEx dining credit is only 32,500 points,  Or just get the regular CDN$250 Aeroplan Ultimate Card for 35,000 points. Basically it is an extra $50 in credit for taking the points as a pre-paid AmEx rather than as cash.

imageThe 24,118 AAdvantage points are nearly enough for a domestic round-trip ticket (and AA has some great off-peak awards where those points go even farther) or $100. A 0.4 cents/mile valuation is well below the penny/point nominal cost valuation of the points and even worse compared to some of the better redemption options out there.

imageAnd then there is US Airways. I actually feel like there is a decimal point error in these numbers given how high the redemption costs are. A $100 PayPal credit costs over 120K Dividend Miles points. That is simply ridiculous.

The number of better things to do with 120,000 Dividend Miles is rather lengthy. Thanks to their Star Alliance partnerships the redemption options – both in coach and premium cabins – to nearly anywhere in the world are incredible. All for way better than the $100 you’d get instead. If you’re that desperate for the cash give me a call; I’m sure we can work out a deal.
So, yeah, the rates are horrible. And the US Airways option is quite possibly the worst value I’ve ever seen for points. EVER. Just don’t do it.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


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