Redeeming Those Rewards Miles? They May Come with a Hidden Fee

Round-trip flights for the same amount of miles may cost hundreds more depending on the airline

Redeeming Those Rewards Miles? They May Come with a Hidden Fee
Image: Pixabay
August 17, 2016

Travelers trying to use rewards miles to book an international flight may be in for a shock when they reach checkout.

Depending on the airline, they may be charged a fee they were unaware of when booking the flight, a fee that may increase the cost significantly.

"Two round-trip flights on the same route that require the same amount of miles can turn out to have starkly different price tags at checkout," reports The Washington Post, "with the gap amounting to hundreds of dollars."

At the heart of the increase is the fuel surcharge, also known as a carrier fee. It was first implemented by the airlines years ago when oil prices were high as a way to offset increasing fuel costs. Some airlines still charge it, but not every airline.

The charge is not usually a problem for travelers unless they are redeeming their rewards miles, as those miles are applied only to the base fare of a flight and not to any taxes or fees. In addition, flights may not necessarily be more expensive overall since it is mostly supply and demand that determines the cost in the end, according to equity analyst Darryl Genovesi.

Nevertheless, travelers would be wise to find out which airlines charge the fees and which do not before using their rewards miles to book their next international flight.