Air travel is a convenient way to reach far-off destinations. Sure, it may cost more than how much you’d spend on other forms of public transport, but it comes with a lot of perks. More than the usual complimentary items, perhaps the most important perk for being a frequent flyer is that the more you fly, the higher chances you have of traveling to other destinations for free.
If you’re a self-confessed travel bug, you likely have a frequent flyer card, and have used it many times. You may even have reaped some rewards from it, but it’s also likely that you need some additional insights on how to make the most out of your miles.
How Do Frequent Flyer Miles Work?
Airline companies offer frequent flyer points as a way to encourage air travel and customer loyalty. Various airlines have differing terms on earning points, but typically they’re calculated by how many miles you’ve travelled using the same airline or its affiliate companies.
Travelers possessing a frequent flyer card may also earn from spending a night in one of the airline’s partner hotels, or making purchases from their linked establishments using a co-branded credit card. These points and miles can later be redeemed for free flights, seat upgrades, gift cards and other promotional offers.
How to Maximize Your Airline Miles
1. Trade your Airline Miles
You can actually buy and sell United Airlines miles. Selling your miles or points is especially helpful when they’re close to expiring, and there’s no way that you can use them on time. Or, you may simply want to earn some extra cash.
2. Choose the Right Credit Card
Booking online is the new normal in airline ticket reservations; that’s why credit card companies have partnered with airline companies and other travel-related establishments, to offer rewards for each amount that a cardholder spends.
Some co-branded credit cards offer substantial rewards upon signing up, and this is great if you prefer to travel with the same airline each time you fly. However, don’t close your doors on the other credit cards, which likely also offer some serious bang for your buck. The best part about this is that you can travel in whichever airline you choose.
3. Avail of Bonuses on Time
Airlines normally set specific spending amounts before they allow you to claim your airline miles or give you bonus points. Read about the bonuses that these cards offer and redeem them on time, as these offers mostly come within a limited time only. Subscribe to newsletters and SMS notifications, so that you don’t miss out on any important information or updates.
However, don’t become too obsessed with racking up points and spending on air fare, or you’ll end up failing to pay your credit card balance on time. Make sure that you can still pay your card before booking you next leisure flight.
4. Plan Your Air Travels Well
Airlines have different valuation terms for the miles or points being offered. Some rewards come in the form of award tickets that let you hold an “award space” before actually booking it. If you’ve earned an impressive number of airline miles, the chances are that the company will gift you award tickets for longer-haul travels, and in business class, to boot.
5. Book Early But be Open to Flexible Travel Dates
It’s always a good idea to book early. This way, you’re sure to get the best deals available. When booking online, you’re typically shown the air fare for a specific destination on different days. Being flexible with your travel dates help you to snag the best deals; you’re paying less than you would, while earning the same number of airline miles.
Don’t forget that most companies set dates after which you can no longer redeem your airline miles, and it’s almost always during the peak season for travel: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year.
6. It’s Not Always a Good Idea to Skimp on Airfare
While it’s a good idea to avail of airline offers as they come, sometimes it’s a better idea to collect additional points, and avail of better deals later. For instance, you don’t have to redeem your accumulated miles or points for your flight right away. If you see a better offer from third party travel sites, and it costs less than the miles or points that you’re going to earn by using your frequent flyer miles, then choose the former.
Booking your air travels using credit card points and airline miles can be a great way to save money, but you’ll want to plan ahead and research properly to get the best deals. All you really need to make the most of your miles is enough time to be able to judge every possibility.