Maximizing Your Reward Points

Dawn Dankner-Rosen keeps track of the reward points she gets on her credit card so that she can book free flights. With six people in her family, she says she has saved thousands of dollars.

Dawn says, "We've gone to California. We've gone to France and Spain and Italy. So we've gone all over the world using our, our miles."

But are plane tickets the best way to spend those miles and reward points? You can get computers, TVs, even furniture and mattresses.

Chris Fichera says, "Hands down, the best value for your miles is an airline ticket. The way we calculated the value is to compare the miles you spend to the actual cost of the item."

For instance, the average price of a domestic flight is about $350. That divided by the 25,000 miles it can take to get a ticket, and each mile is worth about one-point-four cents.

Even if you have to use 35,000 miles, the value of the mile is still a penny.

Chris says, "Buying merchandise with points or miles is generally a worse deal. One flat-screen TV we looked at cost more than 78,000 points."

A TV like that retails for around $400. That divided by 78,000 means the points are only worth about half a cent.

For hotel stays, using points may be worth it, but you've got to do the math because deals vary.

And while air travel is the best way to spend your miles, airlines don't always make it easy, with blackout dates and other restrictions.

Dawn says you have to be persistent and flexible. With a little effort, she's managed to book a trip for the whole family to China this summer.

Dawn believes, "It's a way to, to bring everybody together. We have unbelievable memories. It's golden."

Consumer Reports Money Adviser says if you have just a few miles you'd like to use up, some of the best deals for small transactions are newspaper or magazine subscriptions.

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