Yesterday I’ve mentioned that I went ahead and canceled mine and my husband’s Citi Prestige. Of course, I needed to do something with our leftover points first (see my post for more on Citi rules). It wasn’t a huge amount, just 3,500 points between the accounts, but I didn’t want to lose them either. First, I took advantage of “Share” option so I could combine them for free (see my post). After that, I started looking around Citi Thank You portal for various redemption options.
My first sad discovery was the fact that Walmart gift cards are now gone. This was by far the best option aside from booking airfare where you get 1.33 cents per point on all flights, and 1.6 cents on American and codeshares, a Citi Prestige perk. Well, you can redeem points on mortgage and student loans and get 1 cent per point in value, but it’s not something I could take advantage of.
Another problem was the fact that all decent $50 gift cards require 5,000 Thank You points, and $25 require 2,500, with nothing in-between. There are a few retailers where you can get a $5 gift card for 1,000 points.
If you happen to have Citi Thank You Premier card (I didn’t), you’ll get 1.25 cents toward travel purchases. But then I remembered my mom’s Avios booking which I wrote about few months ago. The flight was set to depart from Miami to Philadelphia at noon, and cost me 7,500 Avios+$5.
We’ll be staying in Key Largo, so it will take us at least 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the airport. Since I don’t like to cut it too close, we’d have to leave by 9:00 AM. Not ideal, but this was the only award flight available at the time.
I decided to check my options via Citi Thank You booking portal:
Hmm, this flight is supposed to leave at 2 PM, which would make it less stressful for us in the morning during check-out. As I’ve said earlier, the reason 3,500 points yielded such favorable return is due to the fact that you get 1.6 cents on American flights with Citi Prestige.
But is it worth canceling Avios booking? Well, the best thing about domestic flights on American and Alaska Air is that when you cancel, you only lose what you’ve paid in taxes. In my case, it was only $5.60. This only applies to Avios award bookings, not AAdvantage.
I went ahead and canceled Avios award and used up my Citi Thank You points with $39 copay. Was it the right decision? I’m not 100% sure that it was, but let me walk you through my reasoning process. You might remember that I value most miles at 1 cent each. This means that’s what I would actually pay for them.
Assuming I would otherwise redeem my Citi Thank You points for a $25 + $5 gift cards, we have a total price of about $75. That’s because I’m adding cash co-pay of $39.54, plus Avios cancellation fee of $5. So, effectively, I paid $75 for 7,500 Avios.
Of course, you can usually get gift cards at a discount by buying them through thrid-party resellers like Cardpool (my link, you’ll get $5 after first purchase). Still, that’s pretty close to being a wash, but there were other factors involved.
Like I said earlier, I much prefer a 2 PM departure, so this was definitely a swaying factor. I looked, and AA didn’t have any sAAver award flights on that day. Those are the only ones bookable via Avios. The miles my mom will earn on AA flight mean very little to me, but I’ll redeem them for some magazine subscription, which is worth at least a few bucks.
But most importantly, that 7,500 Avios will increase my British Airways account balance to 25,000 miles. This amount is good for a one-way flight form Orlando to Dublin via Aer Lingus. It could come in handy in the case of emergency where I would have to get to Europe on a short notice. I don’t like to hoard miles, but Avios may also prove to be useful for one of our flights in the future. Short-haul within Europe still costs 4,500 Avios one-way.
Since BA program has recently adjusted its award chart, I feel I’m somewhat protected from a huge devaluation. At least I hope so. Worst case scenario: I’ll use them for hotels where you get 0.8 to 1 cent in value per point. Chase British Airways Visa is one of my top picks when it comes to sign-up bonuses. You can also transfer flexible points to Avios on 1:1 basis from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred. You can read about both offers here
Knowing when to “buy” miles and when to “sell” them is one of the most challenging things in this hobby. There truly is no right or wrong answer because everyone’s circumstances will be different. Some shoot for 2 CPM (cents per mile), some like me will settle for 1 CPM. I believe the less you have in your real savings account, the less picky you should be when it comes to mileage redemption values.
Still, all in all, I thought it was a good idea to “buy” my Avios back at this particular time. I didn’t get a spectacular deal, but I didn’t sink hundreds of dollars into it either.
Readers, what do you think? Deal or no deal?
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.