- When you have to book a flight with an airline that does not partner with you FFP, look for an airline that partners with Etihad and credit the miles to your Etihad Guest account
- Etihad Guest allows you to pool your orphan miles and cash out via a Virtual Visa Card (PointsPay)
- Opt for the USD denominated Virtual Visa option and spend your funds within 48 hours on online purchases (eg Amazon, Expedia etc)
It’s an inevitable fact of life that sometimes you can’t fly with your preferred carrier, or even someone from your preferred carrier’s alliance. This is especially the case when you’re flying on your own dime and price is the foremost consideration. What I’ve come to notice is that the Middle Eastern airlines (Qatar and Etihad in particular) tend to offer cheaper fares from Singapore to North America (via a stopover in their home hub), which may or may not be the result of alleged government subsidies to these state owned carriers.
Whatever the case, orphan miles are the result. These are miles that most people either forego, or if they’re really kiasu, set up a separate frequent flyer account with the operating airline and park the miles there. The issue with that is since you’re highly unlikely to fly with this airline again, those miles will just sit idle, and you’re in the same position as if you forewent them.
So think. What is it we want to do with this? Well, we want to somehow get something back from this transaction. The best solution in my opinion is to find an airline with an accrual partnership with Etihad Guest.
Etihad may not be part of any alliance, but the number of accrual partners they have is just ridiculous. Some of the bigger names they partner with include
- Air France
- Air New Zealand
- American Airlines
- Jet Airways
- Korean Air
- Malaysia Airlines
- Turkish Airlines
- 10 other airlines, see http://www.etihadguest.com/en/earn-miles/airline/ for full list
The point is, there’s a good chance the airline you’re flying with has a partnership with Etihad Guest. Etihad Guest has a partnership with someone called PointsPay. PointsPay allows you to convert your miles to cash via a prepaid visa card
A few points to note
- There is a loading fee of ~USD$1 per load
- Your virtual card is valid for 24 hours upon loading (with a further free of charge 24 hour extension possible) after which the remaining mile are re-credited to your account
- Your miles will be worth approximately S$0.008 per mile (*this rate may fluctuate depending on forex movements and PointsPay’s mood). However, if you opt for the USD option you can get US$0.0068 per mile, which at current exchange rates would be S$0.0092 per mile
This is way below what you could get if you redeemed those miles for air tickets, but remember that these are orphan miles that would have never been amassed in sufficient quantity to cover an air ticket and would otherwise have been wasted
You can opt for them to send you a physical visa card but this incurs a fee. You’ll only need the physical visa card if you want to use the card in brick and mortar shops. Otherwise you can cash out your prepaid virtual visa on e-commerce or travel sites eg Amazon, Agoda etc.
And there you go, some value for those orphan miles!