Airline and hotel loyalty programs often run promotions where you can purchase miles at a reduced price. Buying points is usually a terrible idea since the price being offered is typically several times more than what you’ll get for a redemption. However, it’s worthwhile to at least see what’s being offered. It’s the same as not shopping at a store when things are list price but if there’s a 60% off sale, I’ll at least take a peek.
Many people aren’t going to want to shell out hundreds, thousands or even ten-thousands of dollars to use for a trip that hasn’t yet been planned. There are just too many unknowns that make stocking up on miles by buying them on sale enough of an incentive.
What about purchasing miles every time you use the card? Just round up the purchase to the nearest dollar. Barclays has been offering this promotion on it’s American Airlines Aviator Red card for a while and they call it Flight Cents. When you make a purchase, you have the opportunity to round up the purchase to the next dollar. Those cents are used to “buy” additional miles for 2 cents each. If your purchase price is $10.20, you’ll be charged $11 on your statement. For the 80 extra cents, you’ll earn 40 additional points.
Is this a good deal? I guess that matters for what you use American Airlines points. I know people who think AA points are worth about 1.5 cents but there are redemptions out there valued more than 2 cents per point. For reference, American is currently selling points for 1.5 cents each but you need to spend $5,000+ to get the best prices.
The program with AA must have been working because Barclays is expanding it to the JetBlue Plus card. It’s the same system but now it’s called Pennies for Points.
The option is there when you log into your account. To activate it, all you need to do is set a maximum amount of money you’re willing to have subtracted from your account every month, the max amount per month is $500.
Before you do that, just ask if this would ever be a good value for you. Remember, you’re buying JetBlue points for 2 cents each. JetBlue is a fixed value program and for an average redemption, you’ll get about 1.3 cents per point of value. Even if you’d just want to top off your account for an award, there are plenty of other ways before buying points for 2 cents each. If you don’t have enough points for an award and no way to get any more, JetBlue will also let you book a trip with a combination of points and cash.
While the Flight Cents program can make sense for people who fly on American Airlines and can get more than 2 cents per point value, the Pennies for Points from JetBlue is less appealing. Since TrueBlue points have a set value, every time you buy points with your change, you’re losing money.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary