How can you get the most frequent flier miles for airline flights and via credit card purchases? It’s easier than you think. Whether you’re dreaming about a Pacific island escape, a European bucket list trip, or just simply looking for a way to save money for those semi-annual trips you have to take to visit your relatives, fear not. Following, you’ll find several helpful hints, tips, and suggestions on how to get the most frequent flier miles out of every voyage, and leverage credit cards to get more free trips.
Never book a ticket without also joining a frequent flier program. How many times have you booked the cheapest flight on a travel website of which you aren’t a member? How many times have you ever paid to join a loyalty rewards club? Sign up, and when you check in, be sure to redeem your miles – they may not add up overnight, but over time, you’ll score some deals.
Rework your online shopping–through an airline-specific portal. Different airlines offer different shopping portals, and if you shop through them, you can earn more than 1 mile per every dollar spent (plus thousands of dollars in bonus miles if you spend more sometimes as well).
Check out EvReward.com. This website allows you to check out different stores loyalty rewards’ programs – you’ll find that some retailers like Sephora give you as much as 10 miles for every dollar spent.
Dine out — but dine at specific restaurants. Different airlines have different dining programs you can take advantage of to get the most frequent flier miles, and some credit cards such as Chase’s Sapphire options offer double points for purchases at specific restaurants you can redeem that go further than normal when spent on travel. Check various’ programs out before you take a trip or dine out to make the most of these options.
Consider picking up an airline-branded credit card or two. Unless you’re traveling internationally for business every week or month, those miles won’t accrue by themselves. NerdWallet provides helpful reviews of travel credit cards where you can compare which makes the most sense, and gives you the most bang for your buck when you travel on a specific air carrier.
Be flexible with traveling and mileage. It’s not as easy to redeem rewards miles anymore, and award travel costs can fluctuate, so it pays to be flexible with dates and times. Do your homework, and you will be rewarded: A flight to the same destination on a Wednesday at 2PM may cost far fewer award miles than one that departs first thing Monday morning when business travelers are heading in. Flexibility is the key to getting the most from frequent flier miles.
Be a status seeker. If you can, become an elite airline member to maximize miles and enjoy perks such as free giveaways, complimentary WiFi, access to airport lounges, etc. Status on one airline can help you earn status on another, and high-ranking members typically earn more miles per trip or dollar spent, too.
Spend on upgrades. Look for options where you can spend money to boost miles flown, or pay to add flight leg qualifications – especially if it’s a long flight spanning a large distance, you may find occasional justification for the expense.
Monitor social networks for special mileage deals. Be sure to follow airlines on social networks as well–that’s where you’ll breaking bargains and more.
Join the rewards programs on international airlines. Most American-based airlines have reciprocal programs with overseas carriers, and you can not only earn more rewards domestically by flying them – oftentimes, foreign carriers are less stingy with their rewards plans, too.
Want to get the most frequent flier miles from your trips and credit cards? No problem – here are three helpful guides that can also help you learn more:
Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and
drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. She's written for TheKitchn.com, Four Seasons Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur.com, and dozens more publications.