Convert Frequent Flyer Miles to Cash

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Many of us, through the various superb strategies discussed here, have accumulated large amounts of frequent flyer miles. Can these be converted to cash without adverse consequences? Checked flyertalk.com and although there's not a discreet thread for this subject, searching reveals several interesting posts. Most agreed to avoid the middlemen, if you transfer them to another person make sure you document it as a gift, there's a possibility of getting on the wrong side of your airline FF program, eBay works for some, etc. What are your opinions and experiences with conversion of this virtual treasure into $'s?

policies differ among each airline. Some airlines (such as Delta) even monitor eBay auctions.
Southwest used to be the absolute easiest to eBay, getting harder now with the digital coupons but still probably the easiest.


My company would pay me for my miles if I used them for business travel. Check with your travel department. If you don't travel, find a friend or relative who does, and sell tickets to them.

wow thanks. i never knew u could sell miles...i have almost 100K United miles and not knowing what to do with them

sloppy1 said: [Q]use miles to buy stuff at 2c/mile

buys miles

buys miles up to 1.5c/mile

buys miles

Nice...has anyone sold their mileage to these places? Besides eBay, which broker tends to pay the most for miles?? Do they buy any mileage available, or must it be in "usable" increments (eg 25k miles...)?

wow.... I was just looking for something to do with my 115,000 miles <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif" border=0>

THANKS

This topic is discussed frequently at flyertalk...

Be very, very careful doing this... airlines have seriously cracked down on people who sell their miles via a public method such as eBay or the miles broker sites mentioned above. Penalties include forfeiture of the reward ticket and cancellation of your FF account.

If you want to sell miles the best way is to a relative or close friend. My experience with personal selling to strangers is that they bail when they learn the details of the deal.

Flyertalk has a forum where you can exchange (but not sell) travel reward points in one program for travel rewards in another program.

Friend of mine used the site on the " Buys miles" link above. No Problems and received check the next day. Flyertalk types though say to not use the middlemen. The Forbes article below worthwhile:






Learn how to trade a business traveler's most precious asset: air miles.

This past October Steven Belkin needed a first-class upgrade voucher on Malaysian Airlines. He went online to make a discreet deal with a Taipei businessman; a week after getting the upgrade Belkin swapped 80,000 United miles sought by the businessman to fly four relatives from Taiwan to Beijing. "We were absolute strangers who wanted what the other couldn't use," says the Cleveland-based radio and TV producer. They got away with it, but the deal went against the spirit of the rules: You are not supposed to exchange airline miles.

Worldwide, members of frequent-traveler programs with airlines, hotels, car rental companies and credit cards earn 650 billion-plus miles and points per year. Some 75% go unredeemed. Why? Travelers who don't consolidate their points within a single hotel brand or airline end up with a ragbag of unusably few miles spread across several programs. When someone finally racks up enough for a free ticket to Europe (50,000 to 60,000), they face the restrictions devised by airlines and hotel companies to ensure they only have to give away seats and rooms they can't sell anyway. The only thing holding back more deals like Belkin's is the threat of having program points confiscated under rules that forbid the trading, bartering or selling of miles (air) or points (hotel, car rental).

Or do they? In May 2003 Virgin Atlantic launched FlyingCo, a plan that gives parallel accrual of miles for the passenger and his employer, which banks the miles for future flights for any of its staff. That means that General Motors or Merrill Lynch can apply the miles earned from one business trip toward redemption on another taken by a separate employee. Other barter channels are sanctioned, too. Diners Club lets you convert 10,000 American Airlines points to 5,000 Midwest Airlines miles. You can make the same kind of swap with Hilton. At Points.com seven airlines, including Air Canada and Delta, will let you trade air miles for long-distance minutes, clothes or gas.

Whether or not you see this as the points-givers bowing to the inevitable, the trend is clear. "[Airlines] have legitimized the concept," says Timothy Winship, a Los Angeles-based consultant who launched FrequentFlier.com in 1997.

Not that they exactly advertise it. Tracking down smart trades isn't easy. No single mileage broker or Web site has a comprehensive list matching, say, traders of free hotel nights and free companion airline tickets. And airlines don't want to draw attention to this market, so they don't include who's offering what in their weekly cyber deals that get blasted to your e-mail account. So here are your options.

•Flyertalk.com. Belkin made his Taipei connection in the Coupon Connection, one of several online forums in the "Flyertalk Miles" section. One in 10 of the estimated 10,000 individual visitors to the site each month will trade, offering up American Airlines Admiral Club passes, US Airways North American upgrades and Hyatt Hotels spa coupons, among others. You can even find takers for that free drink coupon you don't need. The most sought-after item? A systemwide upgrade on United Airlines, which can go for a certificate for two nights free at a Marriott resort. "Some of what happens in the forum is technically outside program rules," admits David Friedman, a software salesman and co-moderator of the forum. "It's essentially buyer, beware.… No one has ever tried to close down the forum."

•Points.com. A place to monetize orphaned miles. There are 3,600 different exchanges allowed for things like free flowers, gift certificates at Barneys New York, Crate & Barrel and 180 other retailers, among other trades. Another good use: If you have only 10,000 miles on Midwest Airlines--40% of what's required for a free domestic ticket--and 24,000 on American, try to convert your Midwest miles to qualify for a free ticket on American. Expect to pay a heavy discount. You typically lose 85% to 90% of the value of your original miles, says Winship. The airlines don't mind trading here, because they are either selling more miles or taking miles off their books. Confused about which program you should ditch? Mileagemanager.com will track all of your frequent-flier programs on a consolidated monthly statement for $15.

eBay.com. Trader, beware. Airlines have shown more impatience with this high-profile auction site than any other. Some miles on eBay are disguised as a "white envelope," with a bonus of so many thousand frequent-flier miles. FORBES spoke to travelers who sold miles for $300 cash without such a masquerade, but you might not be as lucky. When Qantas, the Australian carrier, found out last year that one of its frequent fliers was trying to unload 1 million miles, it forced eBay to shut down the auction and closed the individual's Qantas account.

•Mileage brokers. Corpflyer.com will pay between 1.2 and 1.8 cents per mile. You must make the reservation requested by the brokerage for use by one of its future clients directly with the airline, then mail the ticket to the broker. You get paid one business day after the mileage broker receives the ticket. Corpflyer.com will also reimburse any ticketing fees and airport taxes you pay the airline as well as FedEx or shipping charges. Dallas-based Travel Company, which operates MrMileage.com, pays 1.5 cents for the first 25,000 miles, or $375. Terms aren't posted on the site, so you have to call a toll-free phone number.




this sounds like it might be a good way to cashout my 25k AMEX membership rewards points...

SUCKISSTAPLES said: [Q]this sounds like it might be a good way to cashout my 25k AMEX membership rewards points...

SIS, we need a volunteer to try this out. The credit card points may pose less risk than the actual airline programs. During my time in the Army, whenever a request was made for a volunteer, there was usually a lot of milling around and avoidance of eye contact, then someone would emerge. Chuckles were eventually followed by a grudging respect as the risk and hard work for others became evident. So, has anyone here actually cashed out airline program miles with a broker? If not, do we have a volunteer? I would take the spear to the chest but my miles are cc oriented, and my airline pts are currently under 25,000. If there's no volunteer, when my airline pts hit 25K, I'll take it on....z

tipoffs for the airlines that your ticket was bought via a miles broker

- FF account owner lives in a different city than you, with a different last name
- the passenger doesn't know anything (name, address, age, etc.) about the FF owner

sloppy1 said: [Q]use miles to buy stuff at 2c/mile
This one was mostly for cruises and vacation packages (already overpriced), whereas they did offer magazine subscriptions at a reasonable rate. I check the WSJ cost at it's about 2c/mile as promised (although you do buy a shorter 13 week subscription, where you might have gotten a discount for a longer subscription).

It seems that there's two distinct programs here. The first, and the one that carries the apparent risk, involves selling miles from your airline program. From a previous Ron Lieber article, it is apparent that there's enough ff miles out there to bankrupt the majors if they were all redeemed. The major airlines, some in near bankruptcy, make money by selling ff's, then obstruct their redemption. The result is a huge overhang of dangerous unredeemed miles. As a result they're vigilant to any other cash out systems, so perhaps it's best to avoid cashing these ff's, instead just enjoy.

The second involves the cc programs like USAA Eagle Point card and Cap 1's Miles cards. My impression is that these are not actually ff points, but dollars from the cc company. When I've used my USAA points to obtain tickets for myself and family members, they use a travel agency that can purchase any ticket at any open time. This suggests it's a dollar based program rather than a ff based program. There would be no involvement with the airline ff programs as a result, and probably no redemption of the ff overhang that plagues them. If this is true, then it means different strategies for different purposes between obtaining ff miles and credit card ff points (which usually can be cashed out at $.01/pt anyway thru the cc company). The cc points that are not affiliated with any ff program would have a greater value (i.e. less risk) than those which are asssociated if you're looking for a source of steady cash...z

you are correct. Most of the credit card "miles cards" that arent linked to ONE PARTICULAR airline are indeed "points" earning cards that get redeemed by the CC issuers travel agency for air tickets. It can be more beneficial as it allows the freedom to pick any airline and not be restricted to just the "miles" seats on the flight...they are just BUYING the ticket (up to a certain $$ limitation)...their terms clearly state things like (one ticket in the US with a value up to $360)....

True airline specific "miles" are best redeemed for flights on unconventional routes which can cost $600-800 or more.

i have a friend who has used mrmileage quite successfully
i have been mulling using it as i have 300k in my account right now

Wuhoo, if you do pls post and give us the details-----z

My contribution to the topic may be a known fact by most, but just in case: I fly with Southwest Airlines often and in return, receive the Rapid Reward tickets. These tickets are sold on email for $200 to $300 on average. Since these tickets are transferrable, it should not violate any laws.

This is by no means a good deal at .5 cents/mile, but you can legally transfer your American Aadvantage points into dollars through upromise. You must redeem at least 10k miles for $50, then it's $25 per additional 5k miles. If you don't have need for a 529 plan, you can get a check from upromise, but it's a hassle.

magazines site https://www.milepoint.com/mall/magazine.asp

LAwoodtiger said: [Q]My contribution to the topic may be a known fact by most, but just in case: I fly with Southwest Airlines often and in return, receive the Rapid Reward tickets. These tickets are sold on email for $200 to $300 on average. Since these tickets are transferrable, it should not violate any laws.

If you read the T&C carefully, they are transferable, but are NOT to be bartered, sold, etc. So, technically, if you sell them for $200-$300, you are in violation of the agreement. Are you going to get caught, well that is the question...

If anyone here likes to travel, I find it more worthwhile to use the miles myself. The best value is to use the miles to upgrade. For example, last year my wife and I got 2 RT tix from SJC to London Heathrow for $330 each (including taxes and fees). But the best part was that we used 50k miles each to upgrade to Business class (round trip). If we had purchased Business class tickets, it would have been approximately $3500 per ticket. Therfore, we got almost $3150 value out of 50k miles, nonetheless got to travel in style and much comfort (on long flights). Don't forget, we also earned miles on this and since I am Platinum, I got double miles so earned 20k miles making it only cost 30k for me.

I also used 100k Hilton miles to get a 6 night free hotel stay anywhere in the world. We used this to get 6 nights at the Hilton London Metropole, which is a nice hotel and 1/2 block from tube stop. And with Hilton, you earn miles on reward stays so I also earned several thousand miles on the stay. And since I had status, we got free breakfast and free drinks daily.

So, if you do like to travel or want to take a nice trip sometime, use the miles to upgrade and see how the other half lives (definitely read Flyertalk for details on all the tricks). I'll definitely never forget my first trip to Europe, considering we went in Business class and stayed at a nice hotel and only paid about $800 cash for air and hotel (we did have to pay $40 more each as Business Class tax is much higher in and out of Heathrow).

You can convert up to 50,000 American miles and/or 50,000 United miles to Diners Club points each year. Each chunk of 50,000 Diners Club points can be redeemed for a $500 U.S. EE savings bond, with a current market value of $250 (all the usual savings bond restrictions apply). That exchange rate may not seem worthwhile, but to those with excess miles on these two bankrupt/nearly bankrupt airlines, better to take what you can get rather than let the miles sit ad perpetuum or, even worse, lose them altogether some day.

For those worried about Diners Club's $95 annual fee, make just one transaction per month and earn a bonus of 2,000 Diners Club points per month in your first year only. Buy $1 in gas each month and after a year you will have accrued 24,000 Diners Club bonus points -- with a pro-rated current value of $120 in U.S. EE savings, more than paying for the annual fee. (Note: Diners Club is strangely delinquent in posting first-year bonus points, so caveat emptor!)

A spouse can add on an extra Diners Club card for $35 more (but first, check Diners Club's current annual fee structure -- this has increased in recent years). Though no extra monthly bonus points can be awarded, this means that a couple can transfer up to ***100,000*** American miles and/or ***100,000*** United miles if both spouses have miles to get rid of. Those can all be converted later to U.S. savings bonds.

All the usual caveats apply. YMMV. Call Diners Club's points program at (800) 234-4034 before proceeding. Good luck and bon voyage.

Don't overlook your church or nonprofit organization. Find out when your pastor, asst. pastor and/or their wives are going to fly to a church-sponsored function. They can make their own reservations through AA or United, and put hold on the reservation, give you the confirmation number and you can call AA or United and pay for their tickets with your miles. Then check the airline websites for the price of their flight, fill out the appropriate IRS form and have the pastor sign it, and you have a tax deduction. We paid for our pastor to fly RT to Papua New Guinea, an $1,800 flight several years ago. We are in the 28% tax bracket for federal, and 10% for state. That means we got a $180 tax reduction from the state, and a $500 tax rebate from federal taxes.

oysterkamp said: [Q]Don't overlook your church or nonprofit organization. Find out when your pastor, asst. pastor and/or their wives are going to fly to a church-sponsored function. They can make their own reservations through AA or United, and put hold on the reservation, give you the confirmation number and you can call AA or United and pay for their tickets with your miles. Then check the airline websites for the price of their flight, fill out the appropriate IRS form and have the pastor sign it, and you have a tax deduction. We paid for our pastor to fly RT to Papua New Guinea, an $1,800 flight several years ago. We are in the 28% tax bracket for federal, and 10% for state. That means we got a $180 tax reduction from the state, and a $500 tax rebate from federal taxes.

A great idea for those with excess miles, as I know there are many too afraid to try to sell them....

What is the IRS form you need? Never done this before, but may come in handy. And will work for any charity that can use it!

He's probably referring to IRS Tax Form 8283 used when the value of donated items exceeds $500....z

Anyone tried the mileage broker method recently?....z

Submitted a request to sell 25,000 miles thru sellyourpoints.com today via their internet site. Will keep FWers informed of the process and outcome....z

zeego said: [Q]Submitted a request to sell 25,000 miles thru sellyourpoints.com today via their internet site. Will keep FWers informed of the process and outcome....z
Please do.

The best prices (1.5c-1.8c/mile) is only offered for first class international award tickets, so you need to sell in multiples of 100K or 125K miles and often twice that amount (for 2 tickets). Most brokers are not interested in domestic awards for 25K.

The consensus on the flyertalk board is that the airline will catch you eventually and cancel all your remaining miles with them so don't do it except with transferable points (AMEX or Diners Club) and pick an airline you have no additional miles with.

You can convert OnePass miles into Casino chips, and then cash out the Casino chips if you are not tempted to gamble them away <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif" border=0>

ananthar said: [Q]The best prices (1.5c-1.8c/mile) is only offered for first class international award tickets, so you need to sell in multiples of 100K or 125K miles and often twice that amount (for 2 tickets). Most brokers are not interested in domestic awards for 25K.

The consensus on the flyertalk board is that the airline will catch you eventually and cancel all your remaining miles with them so don't do it except with transferable points (AMEX or Diners Club) and pick an airline you have no additional miles with.

Now this is beginning to make sense, particularly from the viewpoint of the broker, and also if you're looking for a source of regular income (1.5% or higher) from our point building strategies. Ananthar, if you built up >100,000 pts on a Cap1 Miles card or similar CC not affiliated with a specific airline, it's marketable at the 1.5 to 1.8c/mile range without much risk of ire from the airlines?--z

Unfortunately most "points" cards (except AMEX and Diners Club) do not allow their points to convert to actual airline miles and cannot be redeemed for first class awards, hence cannot be sold to brokers for 1.5-1.8 cents/mile.

The best way to get cash for FF miles is to "sell" them to a relative. Here is a simple method:

1) Keep your eyes and ears open for whenever a relative says that they have to buy an airline ticket.
2) When they do, offer to buy the ticket for them using your miles instead.
3) Find out the price of the ticket they were going to buy, and offer them a 75% (or 50%) discount.
4) Exchange your miles for a ticket with their name on it.
5) Sign a letter with your signature and FF number on it stating that you are giving these miles to your relative as a gift. Give this to the relative to bring with them to the airport in case the ticket agent gets picky.
6) Make sure you tell your relative not to mention that you actually exchanged cash for the "gift".

The reason why its important only to use relatives is that it causes less suspicion from the airlines. Using total strangers would make it too obvious. Also the written letter shows that your relative did not buy the miles on eBay.

Selling to total strangers on eBay is dangerous, and can get all of your FF miles confiscated.


how?

Alcibiades said: [Q]You can convert OnePass miles into Casino chips, and then cash out the Casino chips if you are not tempted to gamble them away <img src="i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif" border=0>


Might not be bad to try with my United Miles. I don't plan on flying them much and they might not be around much longer anyway.

zeego said: [Q]Submitted a request to sell 25,000 miles thru sellyourpoints.com today via their internet site. Will keep FWers informed of the process and outcome....z

Heard absolutely nothing back about my offer for these measely 25,000 miles. Bet they're looking for the 100,000+ miles----z

How do I convert Onepass miles into casino chips?

daurang said: [Q]How do I convert Onepass miles into casino chips?

This is not possible anymore. Hilton HHonors had a reward where you cashed in points for casino chips. You could have theoretically moved miles from Continental into Hhonors points -> then redeem for chips.

But the exchange rate from what I remember was lousy (something like 100000 points for $400 in chips).

Skipping 4 Messages...
how do you convert Delta miles to southwest points.. thanks in advance



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