• Maximizing your points and miles

    Janet Wheatley
    Since the dawn of frequent flyer programs in 1979 by Texas International Airlines (followed quickly by American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, and British Airways), travelers have been trying to maximize their miles by understanding:

    • Which program gives the best value?
    • When do miles expire (or not)?
    • What carriers participate in each other’s alliances?

    The list goes on.  Then add in hotel and car rental programs, plus the option to earn miles by using your credit cards, and you’ve got a pretty complicated situation to sort out. Fortunately, the internet has great resources to help you navigate through the many, many options available to you.

    I recommend “The Beginner’s Guide” on www.thepointsguy.com website.  In this article he cites key steps:

    1. Join the major clubs (air, car, hotel)
    2. Use an online wallet manager, like www.awardwallet.com
    3. Jumpstart your mileage earning with the right credit card (either choose the major carrier from your home city or a card that has high earnings and offers multiple carriers)
    4. Pay with the credit card, but be certain to pay in full each month to avoid any finance charges
    5. Sign up for dining programs
    6. Earn miles by shopping online

    credit cardAs a frequent traveler myself, I ensure I join every frequent user program I can.  Even if you have just a few miles, at times you can use those miles to purchase items like a magazine subscription.  Or, that carrier you don’t fly as often may merge with a larger carrier, and voila! you have a great balance with the combined programs. Also consider selecting airlines miles instead of credits from a hotel or car rental company you don’t use often. Then you are consolidating the miles with your favorite carrier.

    Belonging to a frequent flyer program gives you some additional benefits while traveling once you’ve earned enough status:  boarding priority, free baggage, and priority in security lines, plus more. These perks are greatly beneficial when traveling and are almost worth more than the miles to me.

    While confusing and sometimes frustrating, earning and tracking miles is worth the benefits you’ll enjoy.  What advice and tips do you have to share?

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