The impending expiry of Air Miles has been in the news a few times. If you’re a collector and you haven’t already, you should find out if you have any Air Miles set to expire at the end of the year. If so, you’ve got to decide how you want to redeem them. Here are a few travel-related redemption options for getting good value for your Air Miles.
The value of Air Miles earned in the “Cash” category gives you a good starting point when assessing the value of a “Dream” miles redemption. Cash Air Miles are worth around 10.5 cents each, so when you accumulate 95 of them, you can redeem for $10 off a purchase at a participating merchant. Therefore, the goal when redeeming Dream miles is to get a value per mile higher than that, if possible.
Short-haul flights at the base amount offer the best value if you can find availability. Flights to long-haul destinations require a disproportionately large number of miles. For example, I’ll compare some low fares from Halifax to the low season/high season base miles required, along with the approximate taxes and fees:
Quebec City $417 or 1300/1500 AM + $141.73
New York $328 or 1500/1900 AM + $146.80
Toronto $381 or 1700/2200 AM + $132.04
Orlando $360 or 3100/4000 AM + $146.80
Vancouver $623 or 4500/6000 AM + $140.81
London $540 or 4700/6200 AM + $582.12 Heathrow Air Canada; $228.55 Gatwick WestJet
San Francisco $466 or 5200/6700 AM + $162.52
Rome $699 or 5500/7300 AM + $621.68
Honolulu $578 or 9700/12,500 AM + ?
It’s pretty clear short-haul flights will give you the best value. Finding availability can be tricky though. My mother and I recently traveled to Quebec City with Air Miles at the end of May (low season). Airfare was $500+ so we were pleased to get the flights for 1300 miles each (plus taxes and fees). However, it took weeks of daily checking the Air Miles website to get the flights we wanted at the base amount of miles. That occurred three weeks before our travel dates. Last year, we booked one-way tickets to New York at a level above the base amount because a non-stop option appeared. It quickly disappeared, then reappeared a few days later…at the base amount. So, check the site early and often, and keep them in mind for a last-minute trip. Also remember, if there is no availability at the base amount for a return trip, there could still be availability on either your outbound or inbound date so try different date combinations if your schedule permits.
It’s possible to get good value for a hotel redemption but it’s hit or miss when searching. Here are a few results for New Year’s Eve 2016:
Holiday Inn Halifax Harbourview $128.64 or 830 AM + $27.97
Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Fredericton $134 or 795 AM + $22.93
Holiday Inn Montreal Centreville Downtown$174.60 or 805 AM + $30.77
If you’re planning a theme park trip your Air Miles can be put to good use toward admissions tickets especially considering the difference in the dollar. For the example below, I’ve used ticket prices from the Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando websites. It’s worth noting that currently these tickets have no expiry dates so they can be used anytime in the future.
Walt Disney World
Child 3 Day $289.68 USD or 3125 AM
Child 5 Day $340.80 USD or 3325 AM
Child 7 Day $372.75 USD or 3550 AM
Adult 3 Day $308.85 USD or 3350 AM
Adult 5 Day $362.10 USD or 3550 AM
Adult 7 Day $394.05 USD or 3775 AM
Child 2 Day Park-to-Park 209.99 USD or 2050 AM
Adult 2 Day Park-to-Park 219.99 USD or 2425 AM
As much as I hate math, it’s a necessary evil to figure out what’s a good deal for your miles. But the main thing is, don’t let them expire. Check out all your options on the Air Miles website. (How about a flight to Iles de la Madeleine for 1300 AM + $89 compared to $724?)