Are frequent flyer miles still worth collecting? How much are they actually worth? It all depends on how you spend them. Many people blow 50,000 miles on an economy class ticket that they could have bought for $200, $300, or $400. But that's not the way to go. Instead, use them on a splurge. We did some research and found some "high value" ways to cash in your miles. And yes, we made sure that seats were actually bookable (accurate as of Mar. 1, 2013) at these point levels. Airfares were found using various sources includng airline websites and third-party sites such as BookingBuddy.com.
||Date||Class||Airline||Round-trip Fare||Miles||Value in cents per mile||Taxes/Fees on your miles||Our take|
|Denver (DEN) to Beijing (PEK)||Jan. 7-21||First||Air China & United (w/ United miles)||$17,281||140,000||12.34||$39.40||Pricey ticket makes this a good use of points.|
|Charlotte (CLT) to Rio de Janeiro (GIG)||Dec. 22-30||First||US Airways||$5,300||100,000||5.30||$107||Christmas in Rio for half the usual point spend.|
|Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (NRT)||Aug 15-22||First||Japan Airlines (w/American miles)||$5,493
||125,000||4.39||$47.60||Round-trip on a busy route in First for half of what it can run you, miles-wise|
|Houston (IAH) to London (LHR)||Aug. 6-13||First||British Airways nonstops, using American miles||$11,630||125,000||9.30||$1,225||Great, but those brutal fees charged by the Brits kind of queer the deal.
|New York (JFK) to Honolulu (HNL)||Dec. 17-29||First||American & Hawaiian (w/American miles)||$3,830 (JFK-LAX) + $1,959 (LAX-HNL) = $5,789||75,000||7.71||$10.00||Christmas in Hawaii for less than you might expect.|
|Philadelphia (PHL) to Frankfurt (FRA)
||Dec. 24-Jan. 7||First||US Airways||$4,732||100,000||4.73||$175||A decent Christmas option, but shorter flights like this aren’t always the best use of miles.|
|Washington (IAD) to Sao Paulo (GRU)||Dec. 3-17||First||United||$5,876||135,000||4.35||$58.96||A little on the high side, but United is like that.|
|New York (JFK) to Buenos Aires (EZE)||June 12-27||Business||Avianca and Copa, with United points.||$3,816||100,000||3.82||$78.57||Coach on the same dates can run you as much as 110,000 points.|
|Los Angeles (LAX) to Sydney (SYD)||Aug 24-Sep. 14||First
||American & Hawaiian||$2,699 (LAX-HNL) + $3,750 (HNL-SYD) = $6,449||125,000||5.16||$135.60||Australia with a pit stop in Hawaii? Not a bad Labor Day deal.|
|Seattle (SEA) to Rome (FCO)||Nov. 7-15||First||United & Lufthansa||$5,851||135,000||4.33||$90.90||
A very long haul – in comfort – at an okay value.