Want to Buy, Sell, or Exchange Your Frequent Flyer Miles?

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The post below is only for informational, educational, and thought-provoking purposes only. Do not break your loyalty programs rules, or bad things might happen.

Let’s say you have a million miles and points. Let’s further presume that you can’t travel that much. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do things with your miles as if you actually owned them?

It would be, but you don’t. You don’t own them. The owners of your points and miles are their respective loyalty programs. And they never get tired to inform you that your miles and points have no monetary value.

So, basically, there is no legal (or let’s say legit) way to sell or buy miles and points other than (buy only) via your own airline or hotel. None!

Points.com

As to trading, there is only one legit way to trade miles and points, and that’s via Points.com. That option comes with insane fees and idiotic exchange ratios. Something like this.

Points Screen

Do they think we’ve fallen off the tree and hit every branch on the way down? Hell yes. Because most people are not like us. They fall into miles and points walking backwards and have no idea what their real values are.

To be fair, though, I know of two Miles.com options that don’t suck.

First is this. You can transfer Aeroplan miles into your US Airways account (soon to be American) at less than 1.2:1 ratio with no fees. This is a good proxy method of transferring your AMEX MR points into US Air/American at a very decent rate, since MR points transfer into Aeroplan at 1:1, and there are no fees.

Aeroplan transfer

Another situation when using Miles.com might make sense is when there is a good bonus. I remember IHG ran an excellent sale bonus on points.com a few months ago.

Other than these two exceptions, I wouldn’t touch Points.com with a 10-foot pole. I hope you agree.

Other than that, dealing with an excess or shortage of points would require you to step outside of the confines of the loyalty programs terms and conditions.

Flyertalk Coupon Connection

Located in Flyertallk Community Forums, this sub-forum used to be a very lively marketplace until the management decided to tighten the screws and remove a lot of functionality from it. Nowadays, you are greeted with this warning, and there is no discussion–you have to do everything by PM. You can trade only, and no selling/buying is allowed.

Coupon Connection

Slick Deals Finance Forum

Yesterday I was arguing with Travel Is Free that AMEX Delta 50K-miles offer was worth getting. To prove my points I posted a few tidbits from the Slick Deals thread showing that miles brokers value miles from all major airlines–including Delta–at approximately the same rate. Of course, it’s a very low rate, but nevertheless, they don’t seem to believe that Sky Pesos are worth less than AAdvantage or Mileage Plus.

I also mentioned that this topic warranted a separate post. Well, I thought about it and decided that the whole separate post was not necessary. So here are a few bits and pieces. 

This extremely popular deal site has a thread with an innocent enough title: Anyone used Rewards2Cash.com? This simple question has developed into a 130+ pages thread where members not only evaluate and report their dealings with various mileage brokers, but also post their own haves and wants. The deals these guys are happy with, include the following:

  • 1-1.2 cents for Avios/United/Southwest/Delta/AA miles;
  • up to 1.4 for Amex MR;
  • up to 1.5 for Chase UR points;
  • up to 1.65 for Starwood.

A few thoughts. I would imagine that if I’d been someone who doesn’t mind breaking the rules–theoretically, of course–I might have tried to make a few personal trades rather than dealing with brokers. When you book a flight for someone you know, even if it’s only over the net, you have a comfort of hoping they would support you at the time of trouble and give you some details about their trip. This way, at least, you control who your miles go to, which is important–please do read a few pages to find some horror stories about closed accounts and forfeited miles. Better yet, if you really are a traveler, put the whole idea out of your head  and only deal with people you know and trust, like friends and family. And under any circumstances, I would  stay clear from transferring the UR points to strangers because there have been multiple reports about accounts being closed and points being forfeited for the same things.  

And by the way, in the state of Utah, selling and buying miles is not only not legit–it’s illegal. Of course, the last case I could find on a subject dates back to 1992, and there were certainly some aggravated circumstances. Still, imagine getting locked up for selling a few frequent flyer miles. Too funny! 🙂

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