A Strategic Reserve: Travel Hacking Style

One of the tenets around here is that you should always keep your points in flexible currencies like Ultimate Rewards or ThankYou Points until you need to book something. Basic, I know.

In the current era of fee free cancellations for (non-basic economy) award tickets though, there’s a strategic reason to hold an airline’s miles directly: they make a great floating backup plan in case your original trip is delayed or cancelled because of massive wildfires, falling inflatable emergency exit slides, or a lost aircraft.

Whenever I have a trip booked, I also book a backup award ticket at a later time in case everything goes United 328. (I also set a reminder in my phone to cancel the backup at my original flight’s departure time.) That means I need to have enough miles in an airline’s program as necessary to support my existing bookings with backups, at least for the next month or two of flights.

Which miles and how many? The first depends on which airport is home and which airline gives you the most options, and the second depends on how many existing bookings you have and how far out your backup plans go. I guess we can borrow from some rando named Einstein, “as few as possible, but no fewer”.

Happy Tuesday!

“It’ll prolly buff out, no need for the backup booking here.”

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