In general, it's never a good idea to buy miles you don't have an immediate use for, unless the opportunity staring you in the face is uncommonly good and unlikely to be repeated (such as the SPG deal I got in on a few months ago that included a 50% bonus on purchased miles that generated a shitload of Alaska miles when coupled with the 20% transfer bonus and 1:1.3 transfer ratio between Virgin America and Alaska). Still, I'm always on the lookout for opportunity zones, even though I usually don't pull the trigger. One particular opportunity zone involves purchasing miles in currencies other than the dollar, given the dollar's strength right now. If your British Airways account is registered in the US, then you have to use dollars to purchase Avios. Flying Blue, on the other hand, charges you in Euros no matter where you are. At today's exchange rate of 1 to $1.05, anyone purchasing in dollars is getting a major discount on FB miles.
Additionally, Flying Blue is offering a promo right now for up to 50% bonus miles, depending on how many you purchase. The fewest miles you can purchase to get the full bonus is 30,000 (for a total of 45,000 after the bonus), which will set you back 825 Euros, or around $870 (as of today). That nets out to around 1.92 cents per mile, and in my opinion anything under 2 cents is worth paying attention to.
Of course, this is far from a no brainer. Why would you NOT want to buy Flying Blue miles? I'm sure there are more reasons than what I'm about to list, but this is what jumps out at me:
- Their website shows so much phantom availability, it might as well be called FantomBlue (BURN!)
- They charge fuel surcharges that can get pretty high
- You can't book first class awards unless you're an elite member
- Miles are pretty easy to accrue since they partner with the three major points currencies
- Their fraud department may not issue your tickets without a huge hassle. (I haven't heard reports of this lately, but it was a major problem in the past.)
- Their miles can only be kept from expiring by crediting a flight; transferring points, buying miles, or spending miles on magazines doesn't do anything
Why WOULD you want to buy miles?
- Intra-Europe economy awards are cheaper than when booking through some other SkyTeam partners. Also, they have a lot of fare buckets, so you can still get a decent deal even if saver awards aren't available. Looking at any random day, you'll see prices ranging from 8500 miles up to 15,000. However, the cheapest you'll find on Delta is 15,000 miles, and on a lot of days, Delta shows no available flights when Flying Blue shows availability on almost every flight. At less than 2 cents per mile, your flights will be as cheap as $75 including seat selection and checked bags, which is better than pretty much everyone that flies out of normal airports.
- Business class transatlantic awards are 62,500 miles each, so if the availability is there, you can get a one-way for ~$1190 plus fuel surcharges. That's pretty good for a cash fare in business class (although of course you wouldn't earn miles).
- If you have a trip coming up where you know you'll need a ton more miles than you can earn through credit card sign-ups, you can get a pretty good head start this way.
- Finally, availability has been pretty good of late, although that could dry up at any time.
I personally am not going to buy any Flying Blue miles with this promo, but again, any time miles are available for under 2 cents apiece, I'll take a closer look. Alaska is running a sale right now that's getting a lot of coverage, but I haven't seen anyone write about this yet (which as we've established time and time again is not evidence that no one has written about this). Now, obviously Alaska miles are preferable to FlyingBlue in just about every metric, but they're also more expensive, even on sale. Don't write off Flying Blue is all I'm saying. How's that for an endorsement?