2014 has been all about collecting miles. So far this year I’ve actually only flown on 2 award flights! The rest of my flights I have paid out of pocket. My partner keeps asking “When are we going to use our miles? We have have all these miles, but we’re not using them!” That’s because most of the flights I’ve been booking have cost $400 or less. I’m not willing to use 25,000 miles to book a round-trip domestic flight when the tickets are under $400! Here’s a breakdown of how many miles I’ve earned from February to August.

British Airways new First Class

I flew British Airways First Class back in July. The flight was booked all with miles!

What if I want to book a cheap ticket using miles?

There are other options out there besides spending 25,000 miles through an airline’s miles program on a round-trip domestic flight. I carry both the Barclaycard Arrival Plus and the Capital One Venture cards in my wallet. These cards are great because they earn you 2 miles on every purchase. Both cards call them “miles” but it’s really just cash back in my opinion. For example, let’s say you spend $20,000 on one of these cards. That’ll give you 40,000 miles. You can turn around and use these 40,000 miles on travel expenses, such as a airplane ticket that cost $400 🙂 . Unfortunately, I don’t have any miles left on either one of these cards. I used my Barclaycard miles to fly out to New York City back in May, and I used over 100,000 Capital One miles to pay for my Hilton suite when I was in London back in July.

Another great option is to move some points over in to your British Airways Avios account. You can spend as little as 4,500 Avios on a one-way short haul flight that is 650 miles or under! You can check for award seats here on BA’s website. Don’t forget that both the Chase and American Express are partnered with British Airways. This means that if you carry a credit card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, you can transfer points to your Avios account!

Marriott Marquis NYC Times Square

I stayed at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square when I visited NYC back in May for the 7th time!

I’ve signed up for so many credit cards this year, that most of my manufactured spending has been done to meet the minimum spending requirement on each card and then I move on to the next. However, as I go into 2015, I will slow down with how many credit cards I sign up for so that I can focus on rebuilding some of my current cards with more miles. This way I can purchase airline tickets on credit cards like my Barclaycard or Venture card and erase the travel expense when I’m not willing to use my Delta SkyMiles or American AAdvantage miles.

When do I plan on using my airline miles?

Living in Minnesota, the airlines know we want to travel from December – April, because it’s so cold! My goal is to use my airline miles when I know the flights are going to cost a substantial amount more money vs. the summer months. I remember when I was looking for flights last year to to Fort Lauderdale for our Celebrity cruise in January, and Delta wanted over $1,000 per person! This is a perfect example of when I personally would use airline miles to book a flight instead of burning them on a $400 ticket. Luckily I was smart enough to search for 1-way tickets to and from Fort Lauderdale and we saved a substantial amount of money by flying different airlines.