When to Use Miles and When to Buy a Ticket

I was talking to Might Travels, after linking to them yesterday, and they mentioned a tool they have that I was unaware of.

It is basically a tool that will let you know how many miles a trip will take, and when to use the miles rather than purchase the ticket.

I recently used miles to go to Austin.  Here’s what the calculator says about that:

Might Travels Trip Planner

It is recommending I buy a ticket if it is less than $360, or use miles if it is above.  The ticket I was looking at was coming up at $500, so I went for the award trip.

I didn’t use this when making my calculation, but it sure would have been easier than agonizing over it.  It also shows you the miles on different carriers, just in case you want to save the #1 recommendation, or you don’t have those miles.

The tool also works for hotels:

Might Travels Trip Planner Hotels

I’ve been playing around with this planner and I recommend checking it out.  It’s a really cool tool!

Pair this with Google Flights to find the best flight options for yourself.


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. You always use miles if you’re playing the game right as your cpm is negative.

  2. Hi,

    I am very intrigued by your post and the link to this interesting tool. But I don’t understand how the below/aboe price is arrived at. Using your example, they are basically telling you that you should use the miles above 13.7 cents per mile, but should pay cash below that. Why 13.7? How is that number arrived at?

    Any explanation would be much appreciated.
    Thank you in advance

  3. There are other parameters too. Is the flight tax deductable or not? Do you need to earn qualifying miles to reach a target staus level or have you passed that?

  4. @gary

    We use a metric on how many miles you need to redeem (give away) for the miles flown. This is something new. i.e. for the Flight SFO-LAX it is 9,000 Avios Roundtrip – the distance flown is 675 miles in total so that’s 13.3 Avios per mile flown. Great redemptions are often under 10 CPM. However this isn;t necessary a signal to buy or not.

    We also mention a price point that is an approximation that we recommend you to use cash instead of miles. For SFO-LAX RoundTrip this is $135.

    Of course we all value miles differently.


    Yes there are many more subjective factors that change that equation but our goal is to provide a good ballpark number.


    That would mean a miles redemption is always the right way to go even if tickets dip way below 1 cent per mile – not sure that is a good idea.

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