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Mileage Credit Card - Strategies For Using Your Miles

Aug 17, 2007
A mileage credit card is practically identical to a frequent flyer credit card. Mileage cards gained popularity when the airlines companies, to gain customer loyalty and patronage, introduced mileage points on every flight that a customer would travel. Once a certain level of points is reached, they can be
redeemed for free travel to various destinations. Many airlines collaborated with credit card companies to offer these benefits on the mileage card programs.

Partnerships between credit card companies and mileage cards allowed the credit card holder to convert their reward points into air miles, typically, at the rate of one mile for every dollar charged on the card. This encouraged customers to use the credit card frequently so that more miles could be accumulated. The mileage cards in turn allowed customers to redeem points apart from air tickets for free hotel accommodations, car rentals and a host of other services.

Miles are equivalent to currency. Most of the times, customers accumulate many miles only to realize that it will not take them to the place they most wanted to go. A mileage credit card is very similar to a traditional credit card, but prudent use of mileage credit cards can maximize benefits. Consider the following pointers to decide on the use of those valuable accrued miles.

1) Flights - The best way to use your miles is for free flights. Using some extra miles, you can upgrade your tickets to get a business or first class luxury flight. To get maximum benefits use the miles for longer trips, not short ones.

2) Flight and Seat Upgrades - It is always better to exchange miles for upgrades on long distance international flights where comfort is a good value added perk due to the length of the journey. It is not a good idea to spend miles for upgrades on shorter flights (less than 4 hours). Sometimes, customers buy economy tickets and upgrade them by spending miles.

3) Travel Itinerary - Certain mileage cards allow passengers to book open-jaw flights (fly into one city, return from another city or fly from destination A to B, depart from B to reach destination C). In an international routing, certain airlines might permit a stopover.

4) Hotel Accommodation - Airlines partner with hotels and provide accommodation benefits to members by exchanging miles. You can convert your miles for hotel stays and other services in the hotel.

5) Car Rentals - Car rental companies exchange miles to rent cars. It is recommended to research all of the partner services thoroughly in order to use miles most effectively.

6) Dining - Certain airline specific mileage cards allow members to exchange miles for restaurant vouchers or dining certificates. However, in order to properly evaluate the benefit of the redemption value, cardholders need to determine if the miles converted are really worth the credit received.

7) Cruises - Cruise trips can be booked by exchanging miles, though there could be minimum a miles requirement for this type of reward redemption.

8) Shopping - There are web sites that allow purchase items to be bought by exchanging miles. Customers can bid on these items. The choices may be limited and the value may be low. It is recommended to first calculate the value of the miles to determine if it is worth buying the item with miles.

9) Miscellaneous - Cardholders can often times buy magazine subscriptions and a host of other items with their earned miles as well. It is advisable, however, to use these options as a last resort, either when the miles are about to expire or there are very few miles left before the expiration date.

10) Bonus Mile Offers - If you need a few more miles to earn that much-awaited free trip, numerous sites list up-to-date bonus mile and purchase miles offers. Many of these offers do not require you to fly, but can still get you those extra miles to get your dream trip.

If all these methods fail, some mileage cards allow conversion of miles to points and then back to miles with a financially better carrier. However, there might be a charge for the conversion.

When using your mileage credit card, there are several factors to consider in order to earn that free or reduced trip. The timing of your travel booking (booking 6 months earlier has more chances of winning free seats), being flexible with your travel dates, including off season travel as well as weekday travel can get you the travel deal that you desire. However, it is recommended that cardholders research the reward programs in advance. More specifically, be aware of the eligibility of your accumulated miles on the mileage card. With certain airlines or websites, it may not be possible to use accumulated miles or earn any miles on special discounted fares or routes. Mileage cards offer great benefits to frequent as well as non-frequent travelers. However, if you want to get maximum benefits, it is essential to read the fine print and terms and conditions before actually signing up for one.
About the Author
For more information on the benefits of a mileage credit card can empower consumers, Robert Alan recommends that you visit CreditCardAssist.com.
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