Question Of The Week: Can I Do Something Else With My Miles?

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Question Of The Week: Can I Do Something Else With My Miles?

Question Of The Week: Can I Do Something Else With My Miles?

Our question of the week is a good one: can I do something else with my miles? If plans changed, and I don’t want to use that airline, what are my options? What if I’m not using that airline or that destination? Let’s look at the options we have when plans change and our redemption needs have shifted. Can i do something else with my miles? Here’s the yes and the no of the answer.

Can I Do Something Else With My Miles?

Our question comes from Damien in our Facebook group:

So I transferred tons of AR points to BA for our London 2020 trip in March- well that got canceled is there any thing else I can do with these points or transfer them to something else that would be efficient?
Doesn’t seem like this spring we’ll be headed unfortunately either.

This question has 2 questions inside it:

  1. Can I transfer my points back out of the airline program / to another program?
  2. What if my miles are stuck in a program for an airline I don’t plan to fly?

I want to examine these separately, since the answers are quite different.

Can I transfer my points back out of the airline program / to another program?

Unfortunately, no. The term “transferrable points” or “transferrable currencies” that we use to refer to the points from Chase, American Express, or Citi means they can be transferred to lots of programs. However, the terms on all of these state that transfers are one-way. You can’t cancel or send your points back to Amex after sending them to an airline program. Thus, Damien’s points are stuck in British Airways’ Flying Club program.

What if my miles are stuck in a program for an airline I don’t plan to fly?

In Damien’s situation, the plan was to send points to British Airways, redeem for flying on their airline, and go to the UK. The trip was cancelled, and now Damien has a bunch of points in BA’s program with no plans to visit the UK. What to do?

This is where using airline partnerships is huge. British Airways is in the oneworld alliance and has a ton of partners. You can use BA avios to fly on any of those partners, even if you aren’t flying on British Airways and not going to the UK.

If you have miles that are “stuck” in British Airways with no plans for visiting the UK / no plans to fly on BA, check out the following:

Also, remember that you can transfer (for free) your British Airways Avios to either Iberia or Aer Lingus for redeeming with them. These sometimes have better redemption options, depending on where you’re going.

If you consult our mile expiration policy guide then you will see that Avios only expire after 36 months of no account activity. That means Damien has a lot of time to figure out what to use these miles on and it is very easy to extend their expiration if he needs to.  A small transfer or shopping portal purchase will do the trick.

Less Than Optimal Options

Many airlines also allow you to book hotels with their airline miles, including Avios, but it is usually at a bad rate.  But if you are points rich and cash poor it could make sense if you know you wouldn’t use them otherwise.  Some, like Lifemiles, will let you redeem them for shopping on sites like Amazon.

Question Of The Week: Can I Do Something Else With My Miles?

Final Thoughts

Unfortunately, you can’t get your points back after sending them to an airline or hotel program. And you can’t send them from program A to program B in most cases. When plans change, and I want to do something different with my miles, the answer is to leverage partners. Even if you aren’t flying to your original destination or using your original airline, you can use your miles to fly on their partners anywhere the partners go.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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