Last August I got in on the bonanza of US bank FlexPerks visa bonus, tied to a number of Olympic medals. Long story short, I ended up with 42000 points, good for up to 800 dollars in airfare plus 20 dollars cash back. The problem is, the card comes with 49 dollar annual fee. And I really don’t like paying a fee on a card, without getting something upfront to offset it. Are you getting a headache yet? Read on, it will come, guaranteed! Get some tylenol ready, you have been warned.
So, the plan was to downgrade the card to their no-annual fee version and keep it, until I needed to redeem the points for a ticket. This was supposed to be my “emergency” points, so to speak. Well, it didn’t quite work out that way. When I called, after about 25 minute wait (no joke), I had to put my husband on the phone to verify his identity, since the card is in his name. Than I asked the agent to downgrade the card, thinking it would be easy. Well, that option was not available apparently.
However, strangely I was offered to convert the card to US bank Cash + visa with no annual fee. I saw the ad on that card before, but there was no bonus attached. Plus you had to apply in the branch, so I passed on that offer. It did look intriguing, offering 5 and 2 percent cash back in certain rotating categories . I will do a post after I look into this card a bit further. It does remind me of Chase Freedom and Discover It card, but with a twist. I prefer cash back for non-bonus spending, so I had a decision to make.
The biggest drawback was that my Flex perks points would only convert from 42000 points to 420 dollars, if I decided to make a switch, because I would lose out on special airfare redemption. I was planning to use US Airways Dividend miles in a month or so to book tickets for my parents to fly over from Europe . So I checked prices for comparison and found airfare for 672 dollars each.
I went ahead and used 40000 Flex perks points for my mom’s ticket and booked my dad’s with my Barclaycard Arrival card, that gave 400 cash back bonus for travel expenses. All in all, my out-of-pocket cost was 272 dollars for both of my parents’ airfare. The departure airport is not ideal, but the dates were perfect for what I plan to do. That is a huge plus, when paying cash. You can pick the dates you want, unlike when using award tickets.
In comparison, if I used the miles, I was looking at 60000 miles each plus around 180 dollars in taxes per person through US Airways Dividend miles program. I usually prefer to use AAdvantage miles in the off-season for ticket from Europe at only 40000 miles, but I need to have my parents here in June. That is because I am planning to take them to Niagara Falls and summer is the perfect time for that.
The award costs 60000 miles each in the summer through AAdvantage (my favorite mile program), the same as through US Airways award chart. Since I value 1 mile at 1 cent, I would be looking at 865 dollars per person: 60000 miles award price+180 dollars tax+8500 miles foregone by using award ticket. 600+180+85= 865 dollars.
By comparisonI I paid 672 dollars each and was able to utilize special Flex perks redemption . I also avoided paying an annual fee of 49 dollars, since I converted the card to US bank cash+ card. It made more sense to just pay for the tickets this time around.
Why did I just tell you all of this? Well, I had this elaborate plan to use the miles and scrapped it at the last minute. Sometimes it makes sense to save the miles and either go with cash or combination of methods, as I did here.That’s why it’s important to have an idea on value of points for your family situation. That way you can make an informed decision on which way to proceed when making travel reservations.
The posts I do on value of miles and points are highly subjective. But I would argue that for most middle class families the valuation should come close to mine. Even though in my last post I called miles “funny money”, I certainly don’t find them worthless either. And now I have the card, I wanted to apply for anyway, without getting a ding on my credit. Win win. You can take that tylenol now!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.