A few days ago, I found an offer online for new users to the Sprint network. Basically, sign up for Sprint, get AAdvantage miles. Now, normally I wouldn’t recommend signing up for any kind of service just for the miles. Most of the time, with that kind of offer, you’re falling right into their trap…
“Oh yeah, we’ll give you ONE MILLION pennies to sign up for this free 30 day trial!”
“Wow really? I love pennies!”
“We were hoping you’d say that! Just sign here, here, and initial here!”
“Ok, cool! So when do I get my pennies?”
“Oh, after 3 months of service, at $100/month..”
“Hang on. So I get one million pennies for only 3 months of service?”
“What a STEAL! Sign me up!”
Right, sounds crazy, but you wouldn’t believe how many people fall for that. We don’t want to be that guy.
Ok, hear me out…
So, according to the offer, the line has to be active for 30 days, and comes with a $30 activation fee. I have a feeling that activation fee is only for smart phones though, as I wasn’t hit with an activation fee on the little flip phone I selected.
So, what’s American Airlines going to give you?
How about 20,000 AAdvantage miles? If we value those at approximately 1.5 cents apiece, you’re looking at around $300 in travel. After that, the math is easy. What’s the phone and plan going to cost? Is it less than the miles?
If yes, then the deal is probably worth it!
Even though I only need an active line for 30 days, I’m going to assume that I’ll pay for two months of service with Sprint, to ensure the miles will post. For my fantastic new phone, that happens to be about $30/month (after taxes, fees, etc.). $60 for the two months.
The phone (including sales tax) ran me just over $106. So, all in, I’m at $166.
Of course, this wouldn’t be a true comparison without calculating the time spent on the offer. I valued my time at about $15 an hour, the same value that I pegged my time at for the IHG Priceless Surprises Promotion. Although this is less than my hourly wage, I figure $15 an hour is a fair opportunity cost. Since the time I spent at Sprint and researching is outside of normal business hours, it’s not time I can be making money at my job anyway. Plus, in some sick, twisted way, I actually enjoy my points and miles addiction.
Weird, I know. I spent about half an hour doing the research, and about an hour in the Sprint store itself. $15/hour x 1.5 hours = about $23
Value of AAdvantage miles – (Cost of phone + Cost of service + Cost of time) = Net Value
$300 – ($106 + $60 + $23) = $111
Still earning a profit $111 worth of AA miles by the end of the day!
Obviously, before taking advantage of an offer like this, make sure the numbers work for you. I ran the numbers before pulling the trigger, and found that this scenario was perfect for me! I actually had a Verizon phone I was planning on cancelling anyway, and have some money in cashback portals that I’ll use to offset the upfront cost of the phone. I simply switched my old Verizon phone to Sprint, and will be raking in some miles!
If you are an existing Spring customer already, you can get 5,000 AAdvantage miles each year for ongoing service! Note that this negates any other discounts you may have, so make sure it’s worth it before switching. Personally, I value smart financial decisions over simply accumulating miles. I recommend you always look at the bigger picture when travel hacking.
I’ll be cancelling the service after the first 2 months, just long enough to ensure the miles post. This offer is valid through the end of the year, so you’ll have plenty of time to see if it works for you! For me, 2 months of Sprint service for an off-peak award to Hawaii? Why not!
Until I find myself in Hawaii, happy travels!