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How to Get the Most Out of Your Frequent Flyer Miles When Traveling

Aug 17, 2007
Frequent flier miles sound great in principle-travel with a certain airline and earn points that you can cash in later, or use a certain credit card to earn points without even traveling. What could be better than free airline ticket? Airlines, unfortunately, aren't so keen on your sudden desire to fly for free. Their goal is to sell seats not give them away, no matter how much they try to entice you into earning frequent flier miles. By being aware of some simple tricks of the trade, you can not only increase the amount of flight points you earn but also stretch them as far as possible.

First, earn the maximum amount of points every time you fly by choosing a specific program and following all of their rules and regulations. Be aware of their promotions and partner companies. You could earn miles by buying flowers at a specific florist or staying at a particular hotel. Keep updated by reading their websites and newsletters for promotions. Certain techniques can also earn you more miles. Fore example, see if you can earn extra miles for business trips by paying for the flight with your own credit card and having your boss reimburse you. Or if your spouse flies less than you, he or she can use a free frequent-flier mile ticket while the paid ticket goes on your account, earning you more points faster. While you are actively earning miles, stay organized. Save receipts, and watch out for errors in your statements. Know how many miles you have and how many you need to qualify for free trips or other perks that come along with a certain status as a frequent flier. Finally, don't waste your miles on cheap flights or by cashing them in on other purchases, such as magazine subscriptions or club memberships.

As wonderful as a promotion may seem, frequent flier miles are, essentially, cash, and you can bet that an airline wants to save itself money by having you spend your cash on something other than an airline ticket.

Do you figure that you'll never fly frequently enough to earn enough miles to be useful? You can actually earn points without even flying by using a credit card that offers frequent flier miles based on the amount you charge every month. While these credit cards sounds like great deals, getting the most out of them can be tricky. Many cards that offer miles also come with a hefty annual fee, so be sure that the cards are worth the fees before you use them. For example, if a card charges fifty dollars annually, and it takes you four years to earn enough miles to purchase a ticket worth less than two hundred dollars, then your investment in the card did not save you any money. If you believe that you can receive worthwhile savings with a mileage credit card, then charge as much as you can-groceries, dinners, even monthly bills-but pay off your bill every month or you'll be losing money on the interest charged. If you go to a restaurant with friends or family, have them pay you for their meal in cash and charge the bill on your credit card. Some restaurants will give you extra mileage when you pay with a specific mileage earning credit card, and some credit cards will give you extra mileage when you charge groceries and other items. Take advantage of these deals by checking your credit card's mailings, email newsletters, and website.

Finally, you've spent years earning thousands of frequent flier miles on everything from your credit cards to your business trips out of town, and now your ready to cash them in and live the high life. The first way to get the best flight with the nicest upgrades or advantages possible from your frequent flier miles is by purchasing tickets as early as possible-as much as a year in advance. Also, try and schedule your flight for the middle of the week-Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday-rather than on Saturday or Sunday when more people are flying, and try to book midday flights, which are less popular than morning or early evening. Finally, call the airline rather than use the internet to book your flight. All of these methods are more likely to lead to you receiving the awards and deals that you want to get from your hard-earned frequent fliers.
About the Author
Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida with his 16 year old son. Get a great selection of luggage at
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