Broke Traveling: Exploit the System

As much as the term “wanderlust” is obnoxious and passe, it captures the essence of millennials. Our generation’s hierarchy of needs; wanderlust, Apple products, human rights, free-range food, and global equality. To all the other generations; we are the worst, but we won’t apologize for it. At least we aren’t eating laundry detergent for YouTube likes.

The quandary of our essence is that fulfillment of said needs comes at a high price. Aka, we are always on the prowl for free shit and ways to stick it to the man. On that note, we’re here to teach you how to stick it to airlines, and get yours the next time you cash in your points or miles.

Broke Traveling: Churning and Burning enlightened you on how to reward yourself with “free” points and miles by meeting minimum spending requirements with credit cards offering sign-up bonuses.

Let us remind you that this information is only for the financially responsible. If you can handle your money enough to capitalize on this opportunity, the next step is applying those points and miles to an actual trip. Sounds like a straightforward task, right? Not always. All applications of miles and points are not created equal and that’s just the beginning.

For example, when your boys call a shotgun trip to Vegas because they surpassed their Q4 sales quota and want to go all “dilly dilly,” you may want to use your newly acquired points. But you’re not going to. Although you may act like a Chad in Vegas, you will not act like a Chad while figuring out how to get there.

Not every use of points is the same
To prove this to you, we are going to use a high school level analyzation process with some big words. If you can’t deal, you shouldn’t have a credit card and this information does not apply.  
Through the next few paragraphs we will be be looking at a metric (aka a unit for measurement) called “cents per mile” or “CPM” for short. This metric places value on points and miles. Still with us? Good. Since the CPM is variable, not all uses of points and miles are the same. Generally, yielding over 2 CPM is considered good value. Anything better means you’ve done your homework, keep it up.

Whip out your fidget spinners and focus
For illustrative purposes, let’s go back to you and the boys getting all boned up to go to Vegas and see Thunder Down Under. You need to get there but you won’t use your points for this sultry sausage celebration and the next three steps will show you why.
Step 1: Research
A round-trip ticket from Seattle to Vegas typically costs around $200. Most major airline mileage programs charge 25,000 miles for round-trip domestic flights.
Step 2: Maths is hard
Do the math: 20,000 cents ($200 x 100 pennies) divided by 25,000 miles means you’re only yielding 0.8 CPM, which is a total waste. By this logic, redeeming miles for a domestic economy ticket is only valuable when the ticket exceeds $500 (or 2 CPM).
Step 3: No Chad! Bad!
Save your miles, suck it up, and pay for the flights out of pocket. Just don’t forget to use a card that earns extra points for travel (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred), so you can boost your points balance and flex the purse strings of your wanderlust piggy bank.

More fist pumping, less clothing and hotter women.
This summer a naughty little party island named Ibiza (pronounced ‘ee-bee-tha,’ you ignorant twats) is calling your name. On Google Flights tickets in mid-July are going for around $1600. Which is a lot to sit in coach with all the other plebs.

You haven’t struck out yet. Since you’ve learned a thing or two about Airline Miles and Churning and Burning, you’ve responsibly accumulated some reward miles. The trip to Ibiza is where you cash those in.  

Frugal travel trollYou start shopping around and find that United Airlines shows availability for the same dates for only 60,000 miles, or roughly 2.6 CPM, plus around $100 in taxes and fees.
The travel pro in you knows that even though you don’t fly United often or have miles with their MileagePlus program, it’s all good. You can simply transfer points from an eligible credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the American Express Starwood’s Preferred Guest Card. Get your freak on.

Coach sucks
Being shuttled around like a cow is the worst. Crying babies, body odor, seats that hardly recline and overweight Americans with their sweaty fat rolls cascading into your space. Factor in seven days of non-stop partying, too much alcohol and not enough sleep—it’s a death sentence. But it’s avoidable.

Now Boarding: Prefered Passengers and your hungover carcass

Since you were a responsible travel troll you have stacked points that can be applied to a luxurious experience that can save you from 14 hours of miserable discomfort.
Like we said earlier, if you’re earning over 2 CPM you’re doing great, but to maximize the value of your miles look to Business or First Class. Why? A. Because you don’t want to die in economy; B. because you can.

Da fuq you saying to me, travel god Jon?
Most airlines use a static awards chart that lists the miles needed to get from point A to point B in a specific class of service. In our example, we saw that flying United to Ibiza “costs” 60,000 miles in Economy. However, that same flight in Business class would run you 120,000 miles. You may be thinking, wow that’s a lot of a miles! And it is, but it’s actually a better bang for your buck. Business Class tickets to Ibiza the same date are just under $10,000 round trip, which means you’re actually yielding over 8 CPM.

Put in other words, your miles are over 3x more valuable when compared to pleb status. Pat yourself on the back, you’re now becoming a travel guru.

At the end of the day, don’t waste your miles.
It’s your prerogative. Use your miles how you want, but just remember they are more valuable than you realize. You’re only limited by your imagination and your financial responsibility. Now go forth and put those miles to good use.

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