When Does it Make Sense To Buy Frequent Flyer Miles?

George Hobica, April 07, 2011
Fares from Washington DC:

    Q: Is it ever worthwhile to buy frequent flyer miles directly from the airlines?

    A: It really depends on what you’ll "spend" the miles on and whether the airline is offering a bonus mileage deal when you buy the miles. From time to time, airlines will offer to give you an extra mile or half a mile for each mile you buy. Recently, US Airways, which normally sells a mile for $0.0275 cents in its Dividend Miles frequent flyer program, had a double mile bonus offer, and Delta was offering a 50 percent bonus in conjunction with American Express. If you spend these bonus miles for an expensive international fare or a business class or first class fare, then buying miles might actually be a bargain. For example, if you can fly to  But if there is no bonus offer, and you’re planning to spend the miles on a relatively inexpensive economy class fare (such as a $200 fare), then it’s not worth buying miles. So watch your frequent flyer program’s web site for a bonus deal and buy the miles when you’re planning to spend them on a high-value fare.