Those people that keep accumulating miles….

Javan69 made a good comment in the mileage redemption post, so bear with me as I step on my soapbox and start preaching here.

*Gets on soapbox*

I’ll never understand people that accumulate a lot of miles (and it’s all relative, so let me say 500,000+) without burning them periodically, at least in most cases. Miles, just like money, suffer from inflation. Fortunately for money, you can earn interest, something you can’t do with your miles. Between all my efforts, I earn around 400,000 miles a year. That being said, I don’t remember the last time I have had over 250,000 at a given time. Typically I end the year under 100,000 miles in my account, having already planned trips for summer the following year. Right now, for example, I’m sitting at only 90,000 miles, something which may seem low to most. That being said, I have successfully converted those miles into amazing trips, and will continue to enjoy them as quickly as possible for as long as the system lets me.

Now in some cases I understand people that don’t burn their miles, specifically those that travel for work and don’t have the time or desire to use their miles (while I can’t imagine ever being in a situation like that, I know it exists). Other than that, you should be burning your miles! For example, about 16 months ago United raised the award level for North America to Europe from 100,000 to 120,000 miles, a pretty hefty increase. I’m sure we’ll see a similar move again very soon, probably in the next year or so. Another thing I have noticed is that those that save up a bunch of miles don’t appreciate them as much, in the sense that they’re content using their miles for standard awards (essentially double the price, although better availability) when a saver award is a possibility. If you have 800,000 miles, using 270,000 miles for an unrestricted ticket to Australia in United First Class may not seem like that much, while it would if you only had 300,000 miles, for example.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, award availability is just getting worse and worse as times go on. More and more people are charging their coffee at McDonalds, etc., to a credit card. Add that to there being less and less award availability over time, and we have a bit of a problem.

I’m still thankful that not everyone is totally savvy on how to use miles best, and that some people are happy redeeming miles once a year for a standard award to see grandma in Birmingham.

Sorry, but I felt like I had to say that.

*Steps off soapbox*


  1. Lots of good points (no pun intended). One reason why I often end up paying with $$$ instead of miles is that I want to make sure I reach my EQM goal by the end of the year (not everyone here can spend 30 weekends a year traveling and thus has pretty much assured status). One way of burning miles is to use them on other people (family) instead of paying for them, especially if they don’t have lofty status goals 🙂

  2. As Oliver said, they can be used for other people – like when my Bulgarian gf and I broke up while she was here and didn’t want to wait another 2 weeks to get home (and I didn’t really want her around, though we still are friends and stay in touch, TMI but had to be said so as not to give the wrong picture) so I burned miles to get her a saver all the way from SFO to SOF. Also, as Oliver said, some of us have to spend $, not miles, to requal. I fly 0, i.e., diddly squat, for work, so my 1K is 1/4 “real” flights and 3/4 MRs, which I do enjoy BTW. I burn my miles for F, if available, or C if not, for summer travel to big events, like my 4 day gothfest in Germany. However, when UA first went BK and I had 200,000 miles (I had just made 2P), I specifically went to Holland for a week in C just to burn the miles (and no, I wasn’t stoned for the whole week — why leave S.F. to do that???). So yeah, seem like the thing to do is never have more than 100-200K miles, and I have 417K. Ack.

  3. Ah, both excellent points which I have overlooked. That being said, the same still applies. Burn them for family members/friends at a fast rate, at least so you don’t have an extra 200K piling up in your account every year.

  4. Lucky,

    If one has a lot of UAL miles,what recommendations can you give, the best way to use them both in value and benefit. Do you take *Alliance trips like SIN or UAL flights? I need to start planning to use the miles, any recommendation is much appreciated. Thanks


  5. Maybe I can help you understand at least one reason Lucky. 95% of my banked miles (1.4M and growing) came from work related travel. With my income, I have very limited funds to actually buy recreational tickets. When I retire hopefully in 5 years those funds will be even more limited. However travel is my passion, and it has always been my plan to use my banked miles for travel after I retire. I use about 160K per year now, but save the rest.

  6. Lot’s of great points thus far and in line with oliver (first response) I too use $$$ for all my trips in order to reach the the EQM/EQS level to maintain 1K. I use my miles for other things including award travel for relatives who would not other wise be able to travel or treat them to a trip in F or C. I also use miles for RCC membership (or use choices when the value is greater), which has been an important feature for me. I usually save miles for a specific goal and then burn them. My balance has gone from 300,000 to 5 miles many times. I must say that if my specific goal was the same as Mark (post above) then I would have no trouble saving miles to use after retirement. With TW I had a lot of miles that just transferred over to AA, which I used for family.

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