Welcome to Miles or Buy

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For most people, frequent flyer miles are a confusing mess. We try to solve that, just a little.

One of the most common questions that readers of Upgrade: Travel Better have asked is: When should you buy an airline ticket with your hard-earned cash, and when should you try to spend the frequent flyer miles you’ve banked?

This tutorial hopes to clear up some of the confusion, so you get the most for your miles, as well as the most for your money.

We do make a few assumptions here. For starters, we assume that you are traveling on your own dime. We also assume that travel is something you either enjoy or need — if your job takes you around the world, and the last thing you want to do for a good time is to get on a plane, then this site is not for you.

Taking a cue from the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series of books I loved as a kid, I have designed the site as a flow chart. Answer a question and click the corresponding link. By the end of the process, you’ll get advice on whether to spend the money or the miles. You’ll get tips on maximizing your mileage value along the way. (FYI: If you take the longest possible route through the questionnaire, you’ll click through 20 pages. The shortest route will be 5 or 6 pages.)

This site is an offshoot of the blog, Upgrade: Travel Better, which offers travel news, commentary, and suggestions on how to live the first class life — at coach prices.

Finally, if you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to submit them using the contact link at the top.

Ready to figure out whether to use miles or buy?

CLICK HERE to start. Click your browser’s back button at any point in the questionnaire to back up.

Want to skip the tutorial? If you know exactly when and where you’re going, how many miles you need, but you still need to figure out the cost of the flights before determining whether to use miles or buy, CLICK HERE for the shorter version.

If you know your program’s rules by heart, you’ve got an itinerary picked out, you already know the price of your ticket, and you want to cut right to the chase, CLICK HERE for the ultra-short version.

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