I used to fly quite a bit. In my single days, I would try to do at least one trip per year. I got to see destinations like New York, Las Vegas, San Diego and Florida. Having purchased a more expensive house and now with a baby, we have limited our travel to where flying has been significantly reduced.
I'm not going to lie, the multiple rate hikes and fees imposed for such things as picking your seat or checking baggage makes me less inclined to fly as well.
But, with the slowdown in our flying, we haven't been accumulating frequent flier miles.
With Delta, at one point I had a significant amount of miles banked after having done a six month stint where I was flying back and forth to Florida every week for work. At the time it was Northwest. But, all that traveling actually got me and my wife free tickets on two trips, one to New York in 2005 and another to Orlando in 2008.
That was our last flight, and in doing so I had used up all of the miles that would give us free flights, but there was still a significant amount left.
Enter in the latest and greatest ‘great idea' by the airlines, and that is where they will take away your miles after two years of non-use.
Great way to encourage flying. Take away the carrot that might encourage people to fly more. But, anyways, I digress.
Well, I received the notice that my miles were about to expire so I logged in to take a look. I had about 13,000 miles, which was about halfway to a flight. I didn't want to lose them, so I looked at the options. Turns out I didn't have to fly, but I could basically do any activity on my account to keep them active, including redeeming miles.
I'll note that one suggestion I've heard is to have a rewards credit card that logs miles. I actually did have one of those back when I was flying to Florida, and with charging all of the flights and travel costs to that card, then getting reimbursed, I was able to accumulate miles quickly. However, when I stopped traveling as much, I determined that I would get better use out of our Citi Dividends cash back card. When Northwest simply canceled my card (after a year of non-use), that sealed the deal and I decided that unless I started flying again regularly, I was not going to cave in and get a rewards card.
So, I looked at other options, and I decided to look at their magazine subscription program. You can get subscriptions to many magazines for the cost of some of your miles.
One of my favorite magazines for years and years was Entertainment Weekly. I always like knowing what movies, music, books, and other things are coming out, and they've always written some pretty good articles about movies, TV shows, and the like. I had a subscription for over ten years. When a renewal came up that I felt was way overpriced, I let it lapse. Over time, I remarked a few times that I missed reading it, but that paying for a subscription didn't seem like something I wanted to do.
Since using my miles represented no out-of-pocket costs (well, actually a small amount, but I'll get into that in a second), and it actually perhaps will lead to saving me in the future should we get a free flight from the miles we avoided losing, I decided to use 1,500 miles for a one-year subscription.
I'm still left with a majority of my miles. I get a year subscription for no out of pocket costs, and I get two more years before I have to do anything again to avoid losing the miles (assuming they don't tighten the program again, which I wouldn't put it past them to do).
When I went to enter my subscription, it presented me with a great offer. Add a second year subscription for an additional fee. The additional fee?
I jumped on that one without even thinking about it. The way I looked at it, that actually got me right to the point where my two year inactivity fee would come up, and assuming they still had magazine deals, I could just re-up.
We'll see what happens between now and then, but in the mean time, I am loving having my subscription back and loving even more that my out of pocket costs are less than two pennies per magazine for the next two years!