One of the benefits I get from having this site is that I get to talk to a lot of my friends & colleagues about their travel plans. One of my friends recently asked me whether it made sense to purchase some points to help him achieve the trip he was planning.
It’s been a hot topic recently especially because both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have been running promotions. These deals allow you to earn a bonus on top of the normal amount of points you’d normally purchase.
Before we get into the pro’s and con’s of this issue, let’s remind ourselves of how points actually work.
The question of “should you purchase points” is actually a little bit pointless – excuse the pun. The far more important factor is how much you pay for the points and how far you can stretch them. The reason for that is twofold.
Firstly, if you are collecting any form of these points, you’re already buying them anyway. When you buy a ticket on your chosen airline, there’s a value built into the ticket that covers the points you earn. When you make a credit card transaction, the interest and fees you pay, cover the cost of the points you earn. This is true for every single transaction that would earn you points. So in reality, you already pay for the points and just don’t fully realise it.
Secondly, getting value for your points is not really done upon purchase. Most purchases of points are done at a fairly standard exchange rate (excluding bonus offers and the like). Whereas spending points is where the real variation comes into play. Whether you get good value is all in the spend. Getting your hands on the points is easy. Exceeding the value of what you can buy for cash is often very hard.
Should you purchase points?
There are a few times where buying points makes a lot of sense.
If you have an upcoming trip that you know you will use the points for AND there is a really juicy bonus offer running then it can make sense.
If you are a real spending pro and are absolutely certain you will get better value for the points than what you pay in cash, then yes it makes sense to buy occasionally. But there are so many easier ways to earn the points, usually for less cash – the pros rarely ever do this.
If you’re booking a trip using either a full reward ticket or some form of cash + cabin upgrade and you’re short of a small number of points. In this scenario, it is probably beneficial to purchase them as it can be done instantly. The instant factor is important because you want to complete the transaction as quickly as possible to avoid losing the reward seat. Buying the points allows you to do that and minimise your exposure.
For most normal travellers, the answer to should you buy points is – no. There are too many other easier and cheaper ways to get them.
Remember, the value you get from your points is heavily defined by how you choose to spend them. Although there are bad earning options too.
If you’re in doubt about whether you’re getting good value, let us know and we can give you free impartial advice.