Consumer Quiz: What"s The Better Charge Card Deal: 50,000 Airline Miles or $1,000?

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You probably get countless solicitations for charge cards in the mail, as I do.
One offers "Up to 60 days to pay!" boasting that this doubles and even triples conventional grace periods.
Many offer airline miles, usually at a rate of one mile for each dollar spent on the card.
Yet others offer cash back: one percent on most purchases and five percent on gasoline, groceries, and a few other vitals.
But have you ever wondered what's the better deal, say between airline miles and cash? The answer may surprise you.
Many carriers say they offer a roundtrip ticket anywhere in the lower 48 United States for 25,000 miles.
Let's say the average restricted coach ticket would cost you about $700.
That's not bad, really.
You're getting about 2.
8 cents back per dollar spent.
And let's say that you average a two cent return on those cash back cards.
That would give you $500 in cash.
At first glance, you'd seem better off grabbing the miles, especially if you like to travel.
But there's a small problem.
Actually being able to book your seat on a carrier when you want to fly, especially during peak travel seasons, is very difficult, if not practically impossible.
And to qualify for open seats you may have to purchase "anytime" itineraries, that can easily cost double the normal amount of miles.
So, instead of 25,000 miles for that trip, you'll need 50,000 or more.
Are you still ahead, arithmetically? Not really, because at 50,000 points you could qualify for cash back in the amount of $1,000, which you could take and actually BUY a discounted seat, still for about $700, and have $300 to spend on goodies.
But there's another issue with taking the miles.
Even if your trip is technically free, there are taxes and other fees that might run $75 and up.
Money can be spent, saved, or given away at any time, day or night, nearly everywhere.
Unlike miles, money doesn't "expire.
" So, why settle for miles that may be difficult to use?
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