With blackout dates, limited seats and other restrictions, it can be a frustrating journey trying to redeem accumulated miles for a free flight. But before you give up and spend those miles on other goodies, comparison-shop. Consider this:
Consumer Reports finds that getting a gift card from a Delta SkyMiles program worked out at 0.28 cents per mile, while a purchase of noise-canceling headphones using American Airlines miles gave you a return of 0.44 cents per mile.
See also: Inheriting airline miles.
Such figures are way below the 1.4 cents-per-mile value of the typical round-trip ticket (at $350) redeemed with 25,000 miles or points.
But Consumer Reports argues that the best deal of all is to get a card that doesn't generate miles or points but has a cash-back plan. Cash offers you the most flexibility — you spend it how you want — and the highest rate of return.
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Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues.