Enter here to win a free trip to Australia’s Gold Coast!

As I outlined on Saturday, Boarding Area and American Express are partnering for a pretty nifty giveaway — you can win an all expense paid trip to Australia’s Gold Coast; they’ll even take care of the taxes for you! Unfortunately this is only open to residents of the US 18 and older. There are about 20 Boarding Area blogs participating, so the way you win is by leaving a comment on any of these blogs answering the following question:

What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

One winner will randomly be picked from each blog, and then from those 20 or so winners, one will be picked for the grand prize. You’re allowed one entry per blog, so be sure to improve your chances by checking out all the participating blogs.

So with all that out of the way, what’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

Hit the comments below. You have until midnight eastern on March 28 to enter. And here’s to hoping one of you wins.

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

Comments

  1. Plan in advance to maximize award redemptions. For example, even though AA essentially eliminated stopovers, they still allow stopovers in North American gateway cities for international departures. So, although my base airport is a gateway city, I’ve tacked on what is essentially a one-way from another trip as the “stopover.”

  2. Don’t just credit flight miles to your FF program, but also take advantage of partner offers where they make sense – credit cards, dining, etc. This can go a long way to earning those rewards, particularly for infrequent fliers. Through credit card use and partner offers, I earned enough miles to fly myself and my wife to Hawaii for our one year anniversary. Although I’m now mid-tier (Premier Exec) on United, I was a 3-4 times a year flier at the time.

  3. “What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?”

    Choose a FF program with an airline that suits your travel needs, and stick with that program, to avoid “orphan miles” that devalue or expire.

  4. Pick a program and try to stick with it. If you fly United and US, you should be only earning those miles in one of the programs, not both, Especially if you don’t fly much.

  5. look for hotels offering discounted point stays. That way, you make the most of your points. For instance, on certain dates 25k Marriott points can be used for a night at a Ritz-Carlton.

  6. Love to travel but can’t afford it? You are overestimating the price. Refer to flyertalk and the BoardingArea blogs, where normal people with limited means share their tips for traveling the world.

  7. Never spend a dollar without earning miles or it, as George Clooney’s character famously stated in Up in the Air. Always investigate whether you can get miles for buying something you need through the various blogs.

  8. Lean everything you can about the various mileage programs through forums like Flyertalk and blogs like this one. the collective experience and tips you’ll find will be invaluable — and can make you a mileage millionaire many times over!

  9. As others have said, keeping with one alliance and being flexible is the way to go. I also find that when we traval as a couple, purchasing one ticket and using miles for the other saves a lot of money and starts refilling the mileage account ASAP.

  10. Pick a program and stick to it. Also, I would choose the program that my home airport has a lot of flights out. For example, US Airways has a lot of flights going out of PHL so I stick with US Airways. I would use the miles on partner airline as well.

  11. Keep your eye on the boarding area blogs and on flyertalk. there are amazing deals out there for those who put in the time to look!

  12. Choose one airline, one hotel chain, one car rental company and fly, stay, and drive as much as you can. Loyalty is rewarded!

  13. Two tips for the price of one entry! I know this doesn’t increase chances of winning, but I surely hope it doesn’t break the rules 🙂

    1. If you think you might lose elite status the following year due to changes in travel patterns, focus more on paid (point/mile-earning) flights and stays while you still have status. Two reasons this helps: (A) you take advantage of the elite benefit of bonus earning (10%, 25%, 50%, 100%, etc) that should more than compensation for the risk of devaluation in the coming year, and (B) you will continue to take advantage of upgrades associated with your status in the paid flights/stays. This means avoiding redemption of miles, points, and “free” vouchers (e.g. VDB) that do not earn miles — use these for your family and friends instead, or maybe offer a tit-for-tat exchange (you’ll pay for someone else’s trip using points, and they’ll pay for your similar or less expensive trip using money).

    2. Don’t overestimate the value of your miles/points or be overzealous of spending money just to collect rewards, since this is counterproductive to your more important personal finance goals (that will fund more travel!). For example, if you would never pay $20,000 for an international first class flight, don’t benchmark your miles based on that cost! If you do the math, you might find that cashback cards will be more beneficial to your pocketbook than mile or point-earning cards. For example, the Schwab InvestFirst Visa gives 2% cash back on all purchases; would you rather have 2 cents in your pocket for every $1 you spend, or one mile/point? If you always redeem for domestic flights for 25k miles, are those limited-availability flights worth $500 to you?

  14. Set up an RSS Feed of Lucky’s and other Boarding Area blogs to ensure you don’t miss a deal.

  15. Starwood Amex indeed on every single purchase you do. Not only can you use those miles on hotel stays but you can also use them for flying to your dream destination!

  16. It never hurts to ask… just for asking I’ve recieved status matches, waived CC fees, gotten agents to round up total miles to book a flight or hotel when I was short. So ask! The worst they can say is ‘no’.

  17. Don’t forget that miles/points are just a means to an end, i.e., don’t get obsessed with earning miles — use them wisely.

  18. American Express Membership Rewards is a good place to consolidate a lot of miles for use on a good selection of partners, and they have some good double/triple point promotions from time to time. Bonus idea – read blogs like this one for excellent tips and reviews – I’ve earned a lot of points from just a couple of easy ideas – information is your friend.

  19. Focus on one or two programs to maximize your benefits, then be flexible and plan ahead to get the most use out of the miles/points you’ve accumulated.

  20. If you don’t get what you want the first time, hang up and call again. Always be informed about where you want to go and what routes you can take to get there and use the ANA website and expertflyer to be informed about what availability is out there.

  21. – Use US based frequent flier programs while trying to fly on foreign carriers. US programs are generally more generous.
    – I price is not significantly different, book you tickets directly through carrier rather then the agent.

  22. Focus on one or two programs to maximize your benefits, then be flexible and plan ahead to get the most use out of the miles/points you’ve accumulated.

  23. when redeeming miles, be patient, and konw the schedule of your airline and your partner airlines.

  24. Keep everything in one family: Hotel stays, credit card usage, car rentals, airlines. Always ‘take the points,’ never the gifts.

  25. Fly within one global airline alliance and credit all of your miles to one FF account. That way, your miles aren’t spread around to different accounts, making it hard to ever accumulate enough to redeem them for anything.

  26. Focus your travel in a single program, but always be open to earning bonuses and taking advantages of great promotions in other programs you don’t typically use.

  27. get a starwood amex card and have an organized spreadsheet or online database to keep track all of your loyalty travel accounts.

  28. Use your BA miles to Buenos Aires with a stopover on Easter Island for 80K BA miles in Business or 40K in Economy on LAN. Best use of BA miles IMHO.

  29. Scour the web and pay attention to program e-mails for promotions such as double points/miles, etc. I’ve found this to be a great way to increase my account balances for very little effort (often clicking/entering your account number)!

  30. If you earn hotel points, spend them on that hotel. Same for airlines. Never spend on a partner award.

  31. Be as nice as possible to the people booking your rewards flight. You probably know more than they do (if you’ve done your research), so find a way to present your side of the story why you can book your flight with those miles if they’re giving you a problem.

    If that agent can’t help you, simply call back and try another one. Not all agents have the same level of experience and competency. Be nice!

    -Steve

  32. Focus on one airline for your elite status. Once you reach a critical mass of miles with that program, diversify into other programs in order to maximize your options when it comes time to redeem an award.

  33. find a job which requires last minute flight purchases, especially in full fare buckets 🙂

  34. Adopt a multi-faceted approach in order to earn the most miles possible! Sure flying on the airline will get you miles but so can a host of other activities! Check out what airlines your bank or credit union has aligned with and get the mileage debit and/or credit card. When shopping online, check out your airline’s website first as many of them link to the e-commerce sites you shop most and allow you to earn miles as well. Check out sites such as http://www.e-rewards.com and http://www.e-miles.com to take quick and simple surveys to earn miles. Also, sign up for your preferred airline’s e-newsletter as they will send you chances to earn more miles when you fly or buy. Most of all, have fun and use those hard-earned miles on something great!

  35. Education! Read read read read read. Research. Spend time on flyertalk, on the blogs, and on the airline websites to learn how to really maximize your miles! There is a world of 23:59 connections, stopovers, first class cabins and lounges that most people don’t even dream!

  36. Track your miles and points with software (such as Award Wallet). It helps to see your progress (as well as your spouse’s), saves time by having the info all in one place, and helps track expiration dates of your points if you participate in a variety of programs.

  37. Check airline partner websites for seat availability to international destinations. Then call your airline and suggest the dates that you found available on the partner sites.

  38. Use the American Express Gold Rewards Card and transfer those points as needed into the airline that will take you where you want to go.

  39. Don’t get too sucked in to the miles and points game as you may end up making uneconomical decisions just to push that extra status level. Take advantage of the good deals (us airways TIBs, BA card, US mint) and leave everything else to the die hards. Pay someone to do your award redemption research. You could lose hours and hours trying to put together a trip when Ben here can do it for a couple hundred big ones.

  40. Don’t be scared off by credit card annual fees. Look at the bonuses and the possible accrual, and most of them may be worth the potential earn.

  41. Check the cost of actually buying a ticket or room because sometimes its not worth using the miles or points on a value basis

    Hope I win and hope its an upgradeable ticket

  42. Concentrate your efforts on one or two programs. Use the Boarding Area blogs and FlyerTalk to find great deals and tips on making the best use of your miles/points.

  43. My top tip for earning and using rewards points: focus, focus, focus! There’s no sense in spreading out 60,000 points to different airlines, credit cards, and hotels plans. Focus on the plan that makes the most sens for you, and work it. Check the plan’s site frequently for bonus opportunities, credit card signup bonuses, and other earning opportunities, and — if they make sense — take advantage. Secondary tip: don’t become so enamored with points that you spend uneccesarily just to earn points

  44. in the beginning, stick with one airline and one alliance so one can achieve status faster.

  45. Be loyal and loyalty will reward you. Use a card for your top airline or hotel, and always fly the same airline (or alliance) and stay at the same hotel.

  46. Top Tip – Read the blogs on Boardingarea.com. The bloggers on the website do a fantastic job gathering and synthesizing all of the information out there in order to keep you up to date on ways to maximize earning rewards. On the “using” side of the equation, they stay abreast of all of the best deals to use points, and also provide detailed advice and comparisons on using your rewards.

  47. Use the charge card and earn points for the airline that goes to where you want to go. American is all over the Caribbean so we accumulate our miles on the American Platinum Card, and when we go to the Islands we don’t have to pay for our luggage.

  48. Checkin with boardingarea.com and Flyertalk daily, don’t miss out on the 100000 mile deals when they come around.

  49. Build miles across partners – double up on miles with car rentals, hotel stays, dining out (Diningrewards.com), credit card purchases and even online partner shopping (with your miles credit card) to get the most miles for the dollar. I use my miles credit card for business trips, the balance gets paid off quickly and I keep the miles from the flight and all business trip expenses.

    To spend them – make friends with the airline agent on the other end of the line, you can often build in longer “layover” stays (ex. Paris or London) on your long distance round trip to ex. Greece to extend the value of the miles, also, mileage use laws mirror fare hires: pick low-season, midweek travel dates for lowest mileage use.

  50. Use your rewards for something you cannot afford — premium class flights, expensive hotel rooms. You get to feel like a star and it has the best % return!

  51. Using an airline specific miles credit card for all purchases and monthly revolving bills allows building of miles without flying and then booking flights with that card often provides double (or higher) miles.

  52. Be consistent and focused. One or two but no more than three airline programs at the same time. My favorite is AA.

    For hotel pograms, I focused on IHG and *Wood.

  53. Concentrate you miles earning potential by focusing on one FF program; Only when you’ve earned the status level you want with that program, build a similar level with a competitor alliance (e.g., One World vs. Star Alliance).

    Short version: Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. (but make sure you don’t spread them too thin either!)

  54. I use my airline affiliated credit cards to buy anything and everything. However, I don’t make any purchases that I otherwise would not have made, only to accrue miles. You’ll find that the miles really add up, particularly if you stick with only one or two cards.

  55. Be flexible with your plans, and sometimes consider traveling somewhere near your intended destination.

  56. try to concentrate your travel, hotel and credit card usage to programs that can be tranfered between, that way if you need to boost point in one for a particular aware it is easier to do.

  57. Chose one airline programs and get their credit card which will earn miles. Charge everything you can to the card and pay off at the end of the month. My favorite is AA.

  58. To earn miles/points, concentrate on one main airline/hotel and try to maximize point/mile earning by registering for promotions. To use the points/miles, plan ahead, be flexible, and maximize redemption promotions (pointsavers, etc).

  59. I’ve always tried to work out deals with friends where I’ll pay for their travel via awards, and then they give me the money for what they would’ve paid (within reason). That way, you can essentially convert your miles into cash (at a rate acceptable to you), and you don’t lose out of miles that you could’ve earned by paying for trips that you would’ve spent miles on.

  60. Use your Amex to earn points (especially the places that give double points) and then use them for the longest flight posible. A transcontinental flight is the same as a flight to the next state.

  61. Keep a log of ALL points earned and any promotion associated. Regularly reconcile your earnings. So many points are just lost because they were never awarded. Think about hiring one of your children to help you keep track.

  62. When booking award travel, be flexible and be EARLY!

    The magic number is 330. Most airlines load new inventory into their reservations system 330 days prior to the flight date. If there are any award seats on the flight you want, they will be available right after that flight is loaded into the system.

    Of course, popular travel days (i.e. holidays, spring break, etc.) and popular travel routes/destinations may cause these seats to disappear nearly immediately after release, but be patient, plan well in advance, and mark (and double-check) your calendar for the correct day to start your search.

    Happy travels!

  63. Always sign up for loyalty programs, even if you don’t think you’re going to fly with the airline/alliance a lot. They’ll collect over time, and you never know when your situation might change (along with your primary carrier or alliance).

  64. A frequent flyer account is not like a savings account – you earn no interest for having value in the account. Spend your points when you want to spend them, saving for a rainy day won’t do you any good if an airline goes bankrupt.

  65. Sign up for special promotions (i.e. Continental’s Twice as Fast promotion) that will get you double miles on all trips taken during a specific period. It’s also useful when you need to meet elite mileage requirements.

  66. Focus on a single airline alliance and hotel chain as much as possible, having 50,000 miles in one program is infinitely better than having 10,000 in 5 different programs. It sounds basic (they’re loyalty programs after all) but the first decision as to which program to focus on is the most important.

    Go ahead and collect the scrap miles/points for the others too, but donate them to charity or order magazines or other cheap redemptions.

    Also – burn those points as soon as they reach a significant value you can use! Saving money today is better than maybe saving slightly more in six months.

  67. Buy a good bluetooth earpiece/headset before calling your airline’s mileage plan center. You’re going to be on the phone for a while, so you might as well be comfortable.

  68. 1)never use cash
    2)go against the conventional wisdom of participating in only one FF program–join those in which you anticipate mergers(much like stock investing), get the credit cards when there are a minimum of 25,000 bonus miles for sign-up, and hold those like a long term investment, using them on the occasions that your primary carrier is not attractive.
    3) churn wherever possible

  69. Try to consolidate your points/miles in as few programs as possible, that way its easier to save up for the big award. I use Alaska and United as my two airline programs and I can earn (and redeem) miles on ALL of the major domestic airlines and many, many major international carriers. Where possible, use a program like starwood or american express membership rewards for your credit card so you can move the points easily into many programs. When booking an award, plan as far in advance as you can, and be flexible, never, ever, ever redeem miles for a non-“saver” award – if you’re going to be paying that many miles the game just isn’t worth playing.

  70. If you’re a member of a professional association, see if they have deals with airlines or hotel chains or rental car companies that get you some level of benefits. For example, if you’re an American Bar Association member, you can be Starwood Corporate Preferred (better than basic) and Hertz Club #1 Gold for no fee. With SPG Corporate Preferred, you’re getting more points than a basic member – and the more you stay, the closer you get to elite status. And with things like Hertz – see if you can convert their points to miles or hotel points (or make sure you can get miles while using Hertz).

  71. Persistence, flexibility, organization, Amex MR and Starwood = great combination!
    Can’t go wrong. Our family of five has experienced travel not otherwise available.
    Thank for asking and Happy Travels

  72. it’s not that exciting, but my top tip is to be sure you’re in the mileage dining program– it makes it easy to quickly top off points and keep accounts “alive” while you’re building the balance.

  73. Go through your loyalty’s program website to get 2x the miles or more for shopping through one of their partner’s websites!

    >>What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

  74. Concentrate on 1 program unless you fly A LOT or until you reach a specific goal. Even if you can get more miles from another program say for a car rental, it makes sense to credit to your “home” program. Some exceptions apply.

  75. Always keep your eye out for free mile reward credit cards. It is one of the best deals anywhere, since it’s a free domestic flight usually.

    Practice using the reward booking engine, so you have an idea of what kind of flights you can get both within a few weeks and a few months out. This helps when you are discussing possible vacations times with others!

  76. Explore ALL your options when booking Award flights. Pull up the route maps for airlines in your alliance and look for the obscure/unusual, and then check availability. Never trust a phone agent to help you find a creative award routing. Do the legwork if you want to find that dream trip, and be flexible.

  77. Going on mileage runs sometimes begets more miles, as during irrops you have the flexibility (since you don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time) to take advantage of VDB opportunities that may lead to compensation in the form of travel credits, complimentary upgrades on later flights, rebooking in premium fare classes, etc.

  78. If you’re a business traveler, ask if your company would allow you to charge your air fare to your own card, and reimburse you. That way, you get the frequent flier miles without having paid for the initial (work travel) air fare in the first place. Then, when you cash out your frequent flier miles, it is truly a “free flight.”

    What a great incentive to take a vacation!

  79. Don’t be afraid to hang up and call back reservations in case you get misinformation or are told what you are asking for isn’t possible.

  80. Keep updating the promotion so you can get the first class ticket without flyong with them.
    For some frequent flyer program keep calling until you get what you want

  81. Subscribe to the RSS feeds on all the good blogs (like this one), use your mileage credit cards for everything (if you can pay off your bills each month) and look for ways to accumulate lots of small mileage increments through such programs as mypoints, e-miles and e-rewards.

  82. When calling to make an award reservation (you are calling, right? never rely on the online booking alone) never take “no” for an answer. If the agent cannot find what you want, suggest alternative routings with partners (the ITA matrix is very helpful here), and ultimately, when faced with a solid “no”, just hang up, and try another person.

  83. Don’t fall in love with your points. Don’t assume the airline with the largest presence in your home airport is the right choice. Decide if upgrades or coach awards are more important to you. Don’t be afraid to call. Get the toughest leg of your target award pinned down and work backwards from there.

  84. Just calling in to a live person always works best for me. Unfortunately, the websites never seem to show the same availability that you can get dialing in directly. It is a hassle, but worth it when you need to get complex trips for multiple people

  85. Educate yourself on the program to maximize your ability to cash in on all the special promotions and make sure you are flexibile in your plans!

  86. Educate yourself on the program to maximize your ability to cash in on all the special promotions and make sure you are flexible in your plans!

  87. Get the bank of america virgin amex. You get 1.5 miles per dollar that can be redeemed on lots of partners including continental and us air.

  88. Being a novice to the whole FF miles game I have come to rely on advice from the intelligent crowd that frequents http://www.flyertalk.com/. I try to use my miles to upgrade to the front of the cabin rather than free flights.

  89. Some lesser mentioned yet equally important tips (in my opinion at least) are…
    1. Don’t procrastinate! Deals can (and do) end unexpectedly!
    2. Be organized – some of these schemes one can barely keep straight when focused. After a few weeks, the details quickly fade. Take note of what you’ve done, how you’ve done it, and what you are owed.
    3. Be persistent. This applies to award bookings, getting reroutes while mileage running, etc. Twenty-seven “no’s” and one “yes” is all you need.

  90. Continue to follow all the blog posting in the Boarding Area on a regular basis and follow FlyerTalk threads for your chosen programs. Opportunities to earn and redeem often come fast and disappear even quicker.

  91. My tip is to avoid Delta Skymiles since it is impossible to use those miles for awards at the lowest tier level!

  92. If you’re just a bit shy in earning the elite status, go for it (even if you don’t think you would travel as much the next year). Otherwise, you would just kick yourself when plans come up.

  93. If you are a moderate flyer, say about 50K a year, earn credit card miles in a different program than the one you fly. For example if you fly United, for 50K BIS miles a year you’ll earn 100,000 rdms almost enough for a great first or business class award, depending on the route. If you earn say 50,000 membership rewards points a year during the same time then every couple years you’ll have enough additional points for a second free trip in comfort.

  94. I suppose earn points whenever possible and spend them on stuff you wouldn’t normally spend money on.. Call me crazy but its that simple to me.

  95. Consolidate your travel with one carrier/ alliance, Jumping from carrier to carrier just to save a few dollars can ultimately cost you much more money and cause you to have an unwieldy collection of points.

  96. Fly within one global airline alliance and credit all of your miles to one FF account. That way, your miles aren’t spread around to different accounts, making it hard to ever accumulate enough to redeem them for anything!

  97. Try to focus your miles/points to a few programs (don’t spread yourself too thin). If you have a cc, charge all your bills/expenses and earn miles/points towards vacation travels!

  98. Think about the opportunity costs of using miles. For instance, it might seem silly to use miles on a short 600 mile hop out of a hub airport, but it makes a whole lot more sense to do so than to use the same number of miles for a transcon. This is assuming, of course, that you’ve reached the price point where you’re willing to burn miles on a domestic redemption instead of for a vaunted premium cabin international trip!

  99. This is easy – I use one card for everything 🙂 Keeps track of all my points and when it’s time to use – so easy! 🙂 PLUS I’m always looking out for specials where I can get double the points or even free along the way!
    Safe travels and Happy flying! 🙂

  100. At the same time that you want to focus your earning on specific programs, remember — you didn’t get married to your primary frequent flier program. Sometimes you will be better off just buying the best available value even if that won’t earn points in your primary program.

  101. Concentrate your loyalty and earnings to a specific airline or hotel program and try to reach as high a level in this program as possible.

  102. If you have a family mileage account, make sure that your dad doesn’t dip into your balance and steal miles for his business class upgrades

  103. It is paramount to understand all of the available awards for each loyalty program. A thorough knowledge of the intricacies of each program permit a certain degree of flexibility and creativity to enable redemption in non-standard ways.

    For example: DL miles may be redeemed on Korean Air to reach destinations such as Australia, where DL has only recently begun service (and only to Sydney).

  104. For someone just starting out, figure out which airlines you would be flying most. Then choose one that has the most flights and most partner airlines available for your desired routes. No matter which partner airline you fly, make sure to always credit your miles to the one frequent flyer program that you signed up with. Eventually you will have enough miles for your first award, whatever that may be.

    Don’t let anyone tell you how you should use your miles. In my opinion, your miles are worth whatever they are worth to YOU. Use them to fly coach, to fly premium, for upgrades, for merchandise, or for magazines. Redeem them however you wish, and enjoy your hard-earned work!

  105. Monitor all your accounts to insure that your miles do not expire. I learned the hard way.

    Do not waste miles on coach tickets if it can be avoided, First Class is worth it.

  106. Join every program you can, they are free and software is available to keep track of the numbers

  107. Always be sure to find the legs with the most miles. Someitmes that may mean you book a flight from SLC to DEN routing through ATL, but that nets you and extra 2k or so of miles for no additional cost.

  108. Churn credit cards whenever possible to grab bonus miles, and spend an extra few bucks to get a slightly more expensive fare on the alliance of your choice; don’t flit around, go for status.

  109. Int’l airfares have gone up in the last 6 months. I think a good strategy is to never use your miles for domestic travel, since you’re sort of wasting them due to the higher fares over the Pacific or Atlantic. Try to earn as many miles as possible on your domestic flying; then, use those miles for a nice bus. class seat on your next int’l. flight. Most carriers now have flat beds in the bus. cabin.
    Also, check out Conde Nast Traveller magazine’s ranking of airlines for food & service. Then, you can select the best carrier within an airline alliance, and enjoy the most value for your miles.

  110. I can only speak for Air loyalty programs, but my best advice is to pick one carrier and aim for Elite status. Once you travel as a top tier elite, you will never want to go back.

    If you are elite in multiple airlines, make sure they are in seperate alliances so that all of your bases are covered for trips that your one carrier may not fly to. Eg… Oneworld and Skyteam.

  111. Hmm, I’m hoping this isn’t a duplicate post – getting hard to keep track.

    Flyertalk baby! And consolidate your miles on an airline – the american review has me hankering for a trip in AFS F now, but I’ll never get there if I didn’t elite and consolidate.

  112. If you don’t travel much but like accumulating miles anyway, think rationally about Schwab Visa with no fee and 2% cashback, and just pay for discount coach on those occasional trips. But if you still must have miles, Starwood AMEX is the way to go.

  113. Sometimes a bad FFP in general can turn out to be a good one to you. For instance, if you fly about 4-5 long haul flights a year from Europe to Asia, primarily with VS but occasionally(or possibly none) with any *A airliners in Economy, the best FFP turns out to be SQ. You get your gold card recognised by both *A and VS, full mileage credit for any VS economy fare, tier bonus destination miles for all VS and SQ flights and redemption opportunity for business product on A380 & 772ER. But if you credit your miles into VS, you might only end up with VS Silver. Thus, although SQ FFP is one of the most stingy programmes, in this case it turns out to be the best option for people with such travel needs.

  114. Actually be loyal – within monetary, time, and location constraints, shift your spending to concentrate on a small number of brands. This also allows you to read up on promotions that are specific to your brands and learn the ins and outs of redeeming from that brand, instead of spreading yourself thin to the point where you never have enough points in a single program to redeem anything, nor any idea what the good values are and how to get them.

  115. Do your homework. Read as many travel blogs as possible and register for as many promotions as possible, those points will add up!

  116. Don’t let points or miles expire unused! You can easily credit a car rental that you’re already going to make to extend the life of miles in most programs, or use many programs’ online shopping malls to buy a giftcard or something as small as a single iTunes song.

  117. Don’t hoard your miles for retirement. Keep just enough to be able to take a trip anywhere in the world at a whim. Spend the rest. Indulge in memorable trips. The value from memorable trips is far greater than the $ value of hoarded miles. Want to try that great 3 star Michelin restaurant? Use your miles for a memorable weekend dinner. Want to get out of the Northeast Winter because you just can’t take the snow any more? Perhaps a first class trip to Puerto Rico or St. Thomas is in order. Use your miles.

  118. I use the American Express Starwood Card to earn points. I also have a mileage card from an airline, which I rarely use, because the rules and restrictions to actually earn a flight have taken a turn for the worst.

    Key benefits of the American Express Card through Starwood:
    1. Unless I am mistaken, you’re automatically upgraded to Gold Status if you spend xx amount of dollars per year. I’ve received a ton of room upgrades, even governor suites, simply by being a Gold Preferred member with Starwood using the Starwood Amex. The bonus is that I have always been offered a free upgrade & haven’t had to ask. If I don’t get one, that’s fine…I’ve received more than enough.

    2. I earn even more points when I stay at a Starwood property.

    3. Starwood has multiple redemption options (cash + points, or just points).

    I spend a great deal of time in Southeast Asia, which means I can get some rooms for as little as 2000 points per night. If I want to stay at a great 4-5 star resort as an option, I can generally stay for $45-60 USD per night if I use some of my points towards the rate (this can drop the price from 100 USD + per night up). I also tend to get special offers from the hotels/resorts simply be being a member.

    You can also earn extra points by shopping on the American Express site and/or earn additional discounts:)

  119. Two tips: Get an affinity credit card for your airline/hotel of choice and use the card for everything (phone bill, cable, etc). I’ve achieved lifetime gold status on AA this way.

    Second, read, read, read. Blogs like this and Flyertalk!

  120. Make sure that you are receiving notifications from the airlines rewards service. Too many people lose their points before they get a chance to use them, because eligibility rules change and points unexpectedly expire.

  121. My tip is to have the credit card with the program you are in. This will be most efficient in earning points per spending. For instance, if you are platinum, Marriott credit card allows you to earn 20 points / $1 spent at Marriott (10 base pts + 5 Plat pts + 5 credit card pts); Amex Starwood allows you to earn 5 points / $1 spent (2 base pts + 1 Plat pts + 2 credit card pts), etc…

    My tip on spending is to be flexible and make use of the benefits offer by each program, such as staying 4 nights and get 1 night free, pointsaver stay. Plan and make reservation early since more options are available and the reservation can be cancelled should your plan changes.

  122. Keep an eye out for bonus promotions from airline credit cards or frequent flier programs sent in email or snail mail. Don’t forget to register for the promotion. Once I bought a $2 cookie on a flight with the airline’s credit card and received 1000 miles.

  123. Stick to your favorite companies (airline, car rental, hotel) to really rack up the miles! Sometimes they will offer their most loyal customers really great bonus mile options.

  124. My tip. If the offer seems too good to be true, consider the source. If you trust it , act fast. It may not last.

  125. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Be persistent, check the award calendar every day, if an agent can’t or won’t help you, call back and speak to someone else.

  126. Plan a group trip with friends and be in charge of all the booking with airlines/hotels/car rentals. You get all the miles and points on your card and your friends are happy to let you organize it and then pay you afterwards.

  127. Be loyal to one of the global airline teams (which has the many flights from your point of origin) and try to have all of your miles credit to one Frequent Flyer account. Also, try finding different credit cards/ programs that give you non-flying miles/points bonuses on that account This will ensure that your miles are always dumped to one account, making it easy to accumulate enough miles/points to redeem anytime and anywhere.

  128. Concentrate your miles and flights on one Alliance and exploit it for all its worth: car rental, dining, flying, purchasing toilet paper from drugstore.com… 🙂 Be sure you also sign up for all the bonus mileage offers that your airline of choice offers, even if you aren’t planning to fly the route immediately. You never know where IRROPS will take you. Subscribe to ExpertFlyer. Check Flyertalk obsessively.

  129. Don’t be afraid to use airline/hotel credit cards to accumulate points in order to prevent older points from expiring. Sending a bouquet of flowers to someone can be an easy way to prevent thousands of points from disappearing.

  130. Use a spreadsheet to keep track of your miles/points. You never know when the company might make a mistake, and it will help you plan your travel to make sure you get the most out of each trip.

    Also utilize online tracking consolidator websites like http://www.yodlee.com to keep track of multiple travel accounts in 1 convenient location.

  131. Credit cards increase your mile earing ability even if you don’t fly a lot. Get a card for the program you plan to use the most or the dominant airline in your market and follow blogs to make the most of your chosen program.

  132. Accumulating miles takes a bit of work, much like making money. So continue doing your homework & overtime you will be successful as I continue to be.

  133. Use your points-accumulating credit card(s) for every possible purchase including household bills and the entire meal bill with friends (hopefully they’ll pay you back in cash or by check!).

  134. learn from those who know by reading the boarding area blogs and flyertalk at least once a day you can fly frugally…

  135. If you have miles that are about to expire, it’s usually pretty easy to extend them my purchasing something small (preferably something you would have purchased anyway) in the airline’s online mall.

  136. SPG…The best points program ever! Earn points through American Express and then use them for a lot of different programs. I use mine to get discounted hotel rooms, for example, I’m staying using a few points and only $60 bucks to stay a night in Hawaii! And they convert to a lot of airlines miles programs. I gave 20K SPG points to Hawaiian Air and got 25K miles!

  137. 1)Make sure your miles program matches your award goals.
    2)If you have a mileage credit card make sure it allows you to redeem awards with numerous carriers.
    3)Start looking for your award seats 6 months in advance of your trip.
    4)Don’t forget to check code-share partners for award seats.
    5)Look for award seats on midweek days.
    6)Since carriers change their award inventory on Friday & Saturday nights at midnight, check then for award seats.
    7)Try BookYourAward.com. Worth the price to get the seat you want.(According to Wendy Perrin at Conde Nast Traveler.)

  138. *** Learn the intricacies of status matching ***

    Occasionally there are promotions with hotels and airlines that temporarily boost elite status in their program. Take your new elite status level and match to competing programs! With some careful planning you can quickly attain elite status in several programs with an opportunity to
    “challenge” to further upgrade or keep your new level of status.

  139. Use a program like Amex MR or SPG to be able to fly on numerous airlines or stay in hotels. SPG is particularly a good value because of the 5k bonus when you transfer 20k points, giving you 1.125 miles per dollar spent.

  140. My tip would be:

    Spend your miles!

    While it’s wise to accumulate your miles towards a goal that’s has better value (first class tickets), everyone should keep in miles that miles WILL be devalued sooner or later! It’s better to get something out of your miles as opposed to accumulate them for an increasingly distant goal.

  141. Buy a subscription to Mileage Manager and use it to keep track of all of your balances. If you want to redeem for a trip to a specific destination, it will do a daily check of all your qualifying programs to see what’s available, when, and in what class and keep you up-to-date by email.

  142. If your miles in a program are soon going to expire, and you have no plans to fly, extend them by making a small purchase from an airline’s mileage-earning partner. Many airlines have a “miles mall” section on their web sites. Any purchase will do. iTunes is available from many of these sites. A 99c song download could save your thousands of miles!

  143. Don’t always choose the frequent flyer program of the airline you fly on. Check their alliance partners, another program may be better suited to your needs and wants.

    Happy Flying!

    -Fish

  144. Make sure to keep up to date on programs like i-dine, where you can still sometimes earn 10 or more points per dollar spent.

  145. Set a goal and work towards it. This year, my goals was free travel in F to Africa. Best way for that, is BA mileage card from CHASE and spend my 30K a year on that card. Badabing, we (yes, two is better than one) will have two F tickets to SA.

  146. Make sure to provide your frequent flier numbers when you go to a hotel, especially when you stay in hotels often. The points add up FAST!

  147. Use Southwest Airlines and Hilton HHonors. You can double dip with Hilton (earning hotel and flight credits) and earn quick tickets on Southwest through partners and flying. Then, vacation virtually for free!

  148. Ask my friend Sandy Y. She knows everything about frequent flying. That, and read FlyerTalk.

  149. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

    The value of points tends to decrease with time, so burn ‘em rather than earn ‘em…. when you have enough for a nice premium intercontinental award.

  150. Focus. Do you research and figure out which cities you visit often and what airlines you tend to take the most. Then try to rack up as many miles as you can with those airlines by flying and through their credit cards. Don’t spread yourself too thin by having couple thousand points in different accounts, but not enough to get a trip or qualify for a status. Limiting yourselves to two or thre alliances will do you a lot of good.

  151. Be sure to enjoy the points that you earn; hording doesn’t do anyone any good. If you are saving for a goal, fine! However, if you just want to see how many points you can accumulate think twice about it; if you don’t want to use them, donate them to charity!

  152. Always apply for credit cards when they have high mileage promotions for opening a new account.

  153. Be polite to the people booking your award ticket. They’ll be more likely to look for strange routings for you.

  154. Get a credit card to go with the program–even if only for the signup bonus. It gives you a big head start on miles, and makes the whole game seem a lot more worthwhile.

  155. If you find yourself facing the expiration date on the points or miles in an account, consider donating some to charity. That often counts as account activity to extend the life of your earnings (though check the terms to make sure), and you’re doing a good deed as well. Better to give a few miles to a good cause than all of your miles back to the company!

  156. Top tip is to make sure you choose one airline partner and stick with the program. If you really want to maximize points, make sure that partner is one which has partnerships with hotels.

  157. The biggest thing I try to point out is to look at all the places you can use your points. Nobody seems to know that you can your points on multiple carriers, let alone transfer them for hotel use. American miles can be used on Cathay Pacific or British Airways, but also transferred to Hilton Honors at a not-so-bad exchange rate.

  158. If you are a student or under age 26, use sites like student universe for cheap fares. Also if you are a college or graduate student, enroll in college plus and get 10,000 free United miles after you graduate!

  159. With respect to airlines – Learn how to redeem the points. Learn the partners, the different types of awards available for your given program etc… Just because the online search tool only gives you limited availability, doesn’t mean your award isn’t available. Even calling in isn’t a sure bet. If you know the rules and the booking classes, you can help guide a helpful phone agent to craft the itinerary you want.

  160. Pay Attention! Watch your statements to catch any errors or missing trips, keep an eye out for promotions to increase your miles/points or standing, read the blogs and message boards, don’t forget to check for cross-promotions with credit cards and other companies…

  161. Look for all the free points that are out there – read Flyertalk and blogs like this to find free points, bonuses and much more!

  162. Read flyertalk and blogs like this one! Don’t redeem miles for flights (except BF upgrades, natch) until you’ve reached your desired elite status for the year.

  163. I don’t always get to choose who I fly, so I make sure to maximise my miles by using companies with partnerships.

    Be sure to keep an eye on those expiration dates! Sometimes simply renewing a magazine or buying flowers online will extend your FF miles expiration dates.

  164. A lot has been written about advantages of SPG AMEX card, and it’s a great card (I have it). However, if you don’t want to mess with AMEX and another Visa/Mastercard, consider getting Diners Club card. Because it is now accepted everywhere Mastercard is accepted (it has Mastercard logo), Diners Club card can be your only primary card if you don’t like having to pay two bills each month.

    You earn one point for each dollar spend, and points can be converted to miles on most airlines, or hotel points. Some highlights include:
    — Annual promotion giving you 1.5 miles for every point transferred to British Airways (1.35 miles on Delta)
    — Diners Club will serve as PRIMARY insurance on domestic and international car rentals. Other cards act as secondary insurance on domestic rentals (your regular car insurance acts as primary)
    — Access to many airport lounges around the world with no extra fees

    Personally, I travel to Hawaii a lot, and I transfer 24,000 Diners points into my BA account, giving me 36,000 BA miles (only 35,000 is needed for round trip ticket).

  165. When redeeming your miles it is always better to avoid school holidays and to travel off season to get the best value for your miles with airlines and hotels.

  166. One useful trick is to register for very promotion you come across on these blogs. Even if you think it cannot possibly apply to you (it may in the future), or if it’s just 50 miles (wouldn’t it suck to be 50 miles short for an award?), or for a program you don’t participate in (there are ways to transfer miles)… one never knows.

  167. Read blogs like this one and grab the deals when they are there. Be sure to only apply for the most rewarding credit card and combine offers with your travel plans. If you don’t have one, just create.

  168. Pick a program that you like and stick to it, even if it ends up costing a little more. They’re not called loyalty rewards for nothing.

  169. Pick the best alliance for your travel needs, and back that up with another airline. For me, in Seattle, United (Star Alliance) and Alaska offers a good mix of earning and redemption choices.

  170. Stick with a single airline who has the most flights from where you live. Charge everything and collect everything to accumulate points.

  171. don’t ignore status in hotels. when i started, i collected united miles but still stayed at priceline hotels. after learning a bit more, i started spending a bit more money but also collecting starwood points. now, i might pay a bit more for my hotel stays overall, but instead of the room with the view of the parking lot i’m in a suite with free internet…and for vacations, my room is free! you don’t get that with priceline.

  172. If at all possible, book awards 330 days out. If not, use tools like ExpertFlyer to monitor award availability. Those who put in the time and have reasonable expectations will be most satisfied with the use of their miles. Those who don’t, won’t.

  173. Domestic flights are cheap – aspire to see the world, and reserve your miles for international tickets. They’re a great value and will make all your friends jealous.

  174. It may take a long time to save the miles for two international premium class awards, so if you’re just a casual flier don’t worry about spending the miles on a domestic coach ticket – just make sure you’re getting a good value for the miles, such as using them for a late booking or a holiday period!

  175. Use car rentals (which often earn pitifully small miles bonuses) to reset the clock on expiration of miles accounts in which you lack activity. This works not only mile accounts in your name, but for family members too: the rental companies report only the FF account number you give them, and not the renter’s name. I’ve used this many times without a hitch.

  176. You can transfer SPG points to over 30 different airlines at a 1 to 1 ratio. Transferring 20,000 SPG points gives you a bonus of 5,000 miles, for a total of 25,000 miles — enough for a domestic award ticket.

  177. Every mile counts so try to get every mile possible from dining, shopping etc. Use SPG as your primary credit card for easy ability to convert to other programs.

  178. Use ANA to research award travel and expert flyer/KVS for other airlines. Study the airline’s award website and have 1 or 2 backups. If you spread points across alliances (easy to do with credit card churning) you will have a lot more options! Do NOT rely on the agent to find you a routing!

  179. Airline miles are usually more valuable than hotel points, in addition to all the perks reserved for elites. So the quickest way is to get an airline-branded credit card and shoot for the bonus miles.

  180. Concentrate on one of the airline alliances, and funnel all of miles to one frequent flier program within that alliance. This way, you don’t “orphan” miles over several different programs.

  181. Accruing flight miles and hotel loyalty points is easier than you think if you stick to one brand and take a few minutes to research promotions.

  182. My travel tips:

    For airlines:
    Get to elite status as soon as possible. Do Mileage Run if needed.

    For hotels:
    Use the promotions as much as possible. Do Mattress Run if needed.

  183. (1) Never miss an opportunity to earn points, no matter how small; (2) Earn and burn — miles and points are only going to lose value with time.

  184. There are so many ways out there to earn miles to get activity credit. Don’t let those hard earned miles expire. Use the shopping malls to earn with minimal purchases. Just remember to use the airline specific links to ensure you get credit for the spend.

  185. Sign up for your points provider’s newsletter- and actually read it! You’ll often be pleasantly surprised by chances for bonus points. Consider buying points in small denominations when they are sold at a discount- I see them often listed at 20-30% off.

    And follow your faves on Twitter, @IHG_Deals (I won 50,000 Priority Club points this way!) & @Lufthansa_USA for example have in the past offered points or flights as promotions- but there are tons of travel & points providers breaking into social media- if you have a good experience with a travel provider, talk them up on social media sites since they all like to build their reputations up with positive comments, etc.

    And it’s a good way to keep up with special offers.

  186. Read FT and these blogs for good tips, like 10k for car rentals and 20k for free hair appointments. Will definitely keep you updated as to the latest opportunities.

  187. Be sure and make all purchases with a mileage earning credit card and purchase as much as possible through a mileage earning shopping portal also.

  188. Attend the 6th Annual Ann Arbor Art Fair DO. This year is devoted to discussing the ins and outs of award ticket booking. It is the perfect opportunity to network with fellow points and miles fiends.

  189. On Delta, the branded gold Amex offers a unique and valuable Pay With Points option – 10,000 miles = $100 off. It’s paid off for me when a ticket was $600, but Delta quoted me 120,000 miles to use miles.

  190. Get a Hilton Surpass Amex and stay at lots of Hiltons, so you’ll earn 9 points to the dollar on every stay. Put $20,000 on your card in a year and score Gold VIP status with Hilton. Then, when you have 225,000 points, redeem them using one of Amex’ VIP Hilton special booking codes, GLONP, which will get you six free nights at a top of the line hotel in London – where the exchange rate isn’t favorable to U.S. travelers. You’ll wind up scoring a stay worth something like $3600, and it’ll only cost you about $8500 in spend if you stay at Hiltons a lot and earn the 9:1 rate.

    Also – when you book the trip, use your Premier Rewards Gold Card to book your flight and get 3:1 Membership Rewards on the purchase. You can top up lots of airline and hotel programs using Membership Rewards, which makes PR Gold an extremely valuable card to carry (although I for one am very sorry to see Southwest Airlines leave Membership Rewards in June of this year.) You can even use MR points to transfer to Hilton at a great rate – more than 1:1 – so you can use them for another 225,000 point reward.

    Also, don’t forget to add on Amex’ awesome baggage claim and trip delay protections, which will stop you from sightseeing in dirty clothes or having to sleep overnight in the airport – flights delayed more than three hours or past 9 P.M. mean you get generous rewards with these policies, up to $250 per night for a hotel. Enjoy!

  191. Be savvy about how you spend your hard-earned miles! If you can help it, don’t redeem miles for domestic coach bc that gives you a very low value to miles ratio. Ideally, redeem miles for international travel in first or biz. Of course, in case there is a sale, you should always check the market price for the same itinerary before you book. And don’t forget to top off your account with miles from credit card offers, promotions, and purchase opportunities. CCs are a great source of miles. Plus, they offer great promotions, such as BOGO tickets or 5,000K miles off price of ticket, or reduced price companion fare.

  192. Burn your miles for a few nice vacations with your better half. This way, you’ll at least find your keys still working when you get back from a MR.

  193. My tips are simple: First, make sure you are earning miles/points on the major airline serving your home airport. Secondly, do the research on the best credit card for earning miles/points for the way you travel. There are many websites that will help you compare the various credit cards programs

  194. Be willing to take a look at other airlines/alliances if your current one isn’t working for you. After being a loyal NWA customer for years, I am now getting involved with CO/Star Alliance which better fits my travel patterns/move from a NW hub city. Sometimes its hard to let go or look at another carrier when you are used to a certain one for years but you might be better off with taking a look at something different.

  195. Keep track of your credit score and if it can stand the small hit, apply over time, for a steady stream of credit cards that give you a sign-up bonus. Those bonuses are the foundation for building miles in many programs. You can easily earn 150,000 miles a year doing this, with no appreciable affect on your credit score. And you can do this for several years before exhausting all of the card possibilities.

  196. Save your boarding passes. After your travel is finished, check your frequent flier account for the miles you traveled to show up. Once they do, you can toss the boarding passes. I use my boarding passes as bookmarks since I often travel with one or more new books. See, there’s two tips for the price of one!

  197. Points have a cash value. Don’t get so blinded by earning a few more points that you spend way more that you may need to. Sometimes a different brand may be a better value, even after loyalty.

  198. My tip is always be aware of partnerships for both earning and burning. I know a number of people who have lost out because they’ve collected in multiple placed when they would have done better by collecting in one location–i.e. collecting on both United and USAir, or not knowing about Alaska’s various partnerships. Status in one progam is better than halfway to status in many programs.

  199. Have a positive mental attitude towards your goals. Make sure that your focus on your millage goals are positive and for the big picture no matter how small each opportunity is to attain a few extra miles. When utilizing your rewards read this and other blogs for proven methods on maximizing your returns.

  200. Stick with one airline and hotel and even car company. It will be worth it when you can take a complete trip for free! Also, make sure you are signed up for all newsletters so you are aware of double miles/points, etc. And don’t be afraid to use the miles/points for upgrades!!

  201. Go with friends! It’s amazing how far you can get if you pool group resources — one person’s hotel upgrade with another’s free car rental etc. Works on three levels (1) You can often score a “stay with your friends” freebie (i.e., two of you have access to the first class lounge, the third can usually come along) (2) Friends who don’t have miles are often happy to pay any cash portion of a status change etc. as their contribution (3) Travelling companions!

  202. Come to the Ann Arbor Art Fair DO this July 24 and 25th. You’ll get great tips. Details in CommunityBuzz forum on flyertalk.com.

  203. Use miles only for upgrades. It’s the biggest bang for the buck. It’s a total waste of miles for hotel nights etc. as well redemption reward tickets.

  204. Read the fine print – learn the system. That way you won’t get frustrated if it doesn’t turn out like you had hoped.

  205. Be nice to customer service agents. If you call when you are mad and end up being mean to them, they probably aren’t going to bend over backwards to help you. But if you call and are nice, respectful and persistent, they’ll probably help you out.

  206. Don’t overreach. If your travel is moderate, stick with one program and milk it all you can.

  207. When looking to book, use a dollop of ITA, gobs of patience, plenty of flexibility and a good dose of bull headedness.

  208. Try to fly only one airline most of the time. It is more likely that you will earn elite status than choosing the cheapest flights. It does eventually pay for itself.

  209. Stay loyal to one airline alliance or hotel brand. That’s the quickest and easiest way to accumulate points/miles and reap the benefits.

  210. Sign your kid up for every mileage program you think you may use as soon as they are born. It’s never to early to train a frequent flyer.

  211. Do your research to find the alliance that best meets your needs. Also, subscribe to blogs such as this one for tips and advice on maximizing points!

  212. Make sure to earn points on your hotel stays too that you can use on future hotel stays or convert to miles.

  213. If the flight you want isn’t available, before paying double miles to get what you want, check business and first class, even for flights where the cabin makes little difference. Sometimes there’s unexpected availability for no extra miles.

  214. Research what destinations you would like to travel to the most, and figure out which carrier/alliance will get you there for the best/easiest redemption.

  215. 50% of marriage ends in divorce. Don’t blow tons of miles on a honeymoon, use it for an anniversary.

  216. Look at your travel and determine which airline or airline network is best for your travel style. Then join and book all your flights through that alliance. This way all your points are put into one source. Also look for the airline credit card that might give you additional elite status with use..and that status can boost your points!!

  217. In my experience there are 2 types of travelers who collect and use miles; 1. those that are very occasional travelers and collect for a long time and 2. those who are frequent travelers and collect and use often.

    My advice would be to those who collect for a long time, to either use large chunks of miles to travel in business or first class (choose your airlines carefully as the products vary greatly!) or save up and use 1/2 the miles for an upgrade. For those who travel frequently I would use my miles almost exclusively for upgrades as your value for the money is much greater. It only costs twice the miles to book a reward business over economy but the cost in money is more like 4-6 times more. So for the same miles you can upgrade instead.

    Above all do your research and know that you can get 2 completely different answers on availability from 2 different agents.

    If you combine your loyalty program with a credit card then you will quickly earn enough points to use.

    Lastly, it is always best to collect and use miles with airlines that are part of an alliance. That way you have much more seat availability at your disposal.

  218. Collect miles and points only for airlines and hotels that you really like and are readily available for use.

  219. Before you fly, always check with your airline about special mileage promotions. Often you need to register for the promotion before you fly, and you may be eligible for double miles or other benefits.

  220. Focus on one hotel program. to concentrate your loyalty point earning. Oftentimes, once you reach top tier status, other hotel loyalty programs will match status with a minimal night/stay requirement. Some hotels say they will only match status once, but in the past few years, status matching has been easier than ever…follow-up and don’t take no for an answer.

  221. Ask for upgrades. Ask for free bonus miles/points. Ask about un(der)published promotions. Ask. The worst they can do is say no, and if you don’t ask, the answer is automatically no.

  222. When trying to redeem miles for an award ticket plan on doing all the leg work yourself – most airline phone agents will search the simplest routings, find no availability, and stop. Know all your airline’s partners (both in and outside the alliance) and all hub and gateway cities, and tell the agent exactly what you want.

    For example, Delta had no availability for a West Coast to Israel award. But the agent only checked Delta flights. By knowing ahead of time that Air France serves Seattle, SFO, and LAX, and that Alaska serves my city and the AF gateways, I got the outbound on the exact dates I wanted.

    Similarly, secure the international flight first. There is only one SEA-CDG flight a day. Find availability for that, then work on getting to SEA – there’s likely many more options for the domestic flight. Many agents will not even search the international flight on a particular day if your first domestic segment doesn’t appear to be available.

  223. I’d suggest reading up on all programs offered by those you most frequently use, and spend points smart…get the most out of it, but also be aware of all the rules involved with spending the points.

  224. Top tip: Flexibility. Be willing to be a little bit flexible when it comes both to dates and destinations. Also, be flexible about using the points at all – keep an eye on the costs of booking the hotel or flights that you have chosen, and be willing to cancel if the economics are reasonable.

  225. Choose a loyalty program that allows you to earn points over a wide variety of opportunities, airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, meals, shopping opportunities, as well as bonus offers.

  226. Miles are not cash! Use them as soon reasonably possible because they do not gain interest and are frequently devalued.

  227. Be sure to check the balances on your laest commonly used programs occasionally so you can proactively earn points in the program before letting your hard earned points expire. Often you can do a simple action (like renewing a magazine you already planned to revew) and both earn more points as well as be able to keep the rest!

  228. Don’t let your miles expire due to inactivity! To keep them active, either buy some token miles or redeem a small amount for a magazine subscription. Or better yet – use them for a flight!

  229. [Full Disclaimer: I am one of the founders of the site, so consider this a shameless self-promotion!]

    My hint is to use Grativis.com to manage all your frequent flyer program information – it’s like Mint.com for points.

    It will pull in all of your points (flights, hotels, car, and others) and show it to you in a 1-page dashboard, while also showing the detailed information just 1 click away. What makes it different (and better) than other point management sites is that, in addition to showing your points, it will show what you can buy (eg “how many round trip coach tickets to Europe can I buy?”) with your points!

    It’s in private beta right now, but I’ve set up 100 invites for BoardingArea.com users so that they can test it out themselves and see how it makes managing points easier than anything else out there.

    To Sign Up:
    https://www.grativis.com/index.php?step=newuser
    Referral Code: BOARDINGAREA-FRIENDS

    Thanks for a great site!
    Michael Komarnitsky
    Grativis.com

  230. My two power strategies are to select a few travel partners and be loyal to them to maximize your benefits. Secondly, use a single credit card with a good reward program for everyting. Yes I mean everything. You should have heard me and the Acura salesman negotiating over a $42,000 purchase being put on my American Express card!

    As for the travel partners, I have a friend who has used Hyatt hotels exclusively for 25 years. He hasn’t paid for an exotic luxury hotel detstination vacation in 12 years and he can get a great room at any Hyatt anytime – they never tell him they are sold out!

  231. If you get an agent that is unhelpful – hang up and call back until you get an agent who is knowledgeable and willing to help. Be nice to the rep. on the phone it makes a whole of difference.

  232. My top tip for using airline points is to be ready to plan several months in advance, pick a few dates and surrounding airports to chose to fly to, and if you’re unable to find a flight by yourself online, try calling a points representative. You may have to pay a small fee but often they are able to search with partner airlines and get you where you want to go! Be nice!

  233. My miles-earning tip is to frequently try to use the shopping portals offered through airline and hotel sites (for example, Mileage Plus Mall for United Airlines, or Priority Club Shopping for Priority Club Rewards) to buy things that I need. Not only do I earn miles on my airline or hotel affiliated credit card, but also an additional minimum of 1 mile per $1 spent. Even better though is when you come across an item that you might not particularly need, but after the free shipping and mail-in rebate, the item is free. I then immediately post it on ebay and walk away with more money in my pocket that I started with, and a bunch of miles or points.

  234. If you are just starting, focus on one or 2 programs to learn the tips and tricks as well as building up points or miles.

  235. Sign up for your airline’s Dining Rewards program and sign up for every bonus there. It’s an easy way to make miles on stuff you’d do anyway. Always offer to pay the bill, you’ll look like a nice guy and get the miles, you can double dip if you have a mileage earning credit card.

  236. Be very flexible. Be willing to travel to another airport on your own dime to get an international flight to your desired destination.

  237. Cultivate friendships with other points/miles gurus and have them on your speed-dial during irrops to give sage advice. 😀

  238. Try to consolidate travel and therefore mileage earning into one airline program and make sure that the airline is convenient to your home location. That way elite status is more within reach.

  239. Sign up for every hotel/airline/train loyalty program out there. Just because you think that you aren’t going to actually fly on a particular airline or stay in a particular hotel chain, does not mean that’s a reason not to sign up for these programs. After that, make sure that you participate in every bonus, sign-up promo or opt-in promo available (think Continental’s frequent 100 mile promos). You never know when those couple hundred miles or points will come in handy for a larger promotion that is being offered. Often you can transfer points or miles to other programs via points.com to get that last necessary partner participation.

  240. Use a single credit card for everything you purchase including travel, household and personal expense, utilities, and paying your taxes. The card you use should be the one that has the best rewards program and flexibility for your personal lifestyle.

  241. Get the best value with your hotel awards by comparing the actual point values.

    For example, if a hotel A is regularly $180 a night, but costs say 10,000 points and a hotel B is regularly $250 a night but costs 15,000 points, it would be a better value choosing hotel A (disregarding the location factor) because you’re getting more value for each of your points. It is a good idea to look at the actual point value factor when banking in those hotel points.

  242. Do your research. I was I had discovered FlyerTalk years ago. I have a bunch of points spread across several different hotel programs when I should have been focusing on one.

  243. Always be sure to keep up to date with promotions and special offers of your favorite loyalty programs. These promotions allow you to earn points, miles, and rewards at greatly accelerated rates. Read the T&C’s carefully and be sure to follow up with Customer Service if any bonuses do not post.

  244. Pay attention to promotions, especially if you can get status that you would not otherwise get it. Start with one program and get familiar with the “game.”

  245. Jumpstart your miles by getting status on one airline. AA offers a Platinum challenge that can help you get status very quickly. Once you have status with AA, many other airlines are willing to match it. When you fly with status, you get more miles. Now you just have to earn it the hard way next year. 😉

  246. Enjoy reward flights sooner with a Household Account.

    You and up to six other members of your household, including children, can earn and spend British Airways Miles together. Each member has an individual account, which is linked with the others so you can pool BA Miles, making it easier to take reward flights sooner.

  247. Burning miles are much harder than accumulating miles. So when you are looking for cheap routes, always keep an eye on those expensive ones.

  248. EARN- Sign up for a credit card affiliated with miles,(if possible CHURN!); always makes sure that your hard earned miles actually post; travel when double miles are being offered; and look around at boardingarea.com, and FT, for the many bonuses out there.
    SPEND- If you’ve got the miles, USE AND ENJOY THEM, unless the price to pay is the same value as the points or cheaper, when then you might as well save your miles for a different occasion, and actually earn miles on your current flight or stay.

  249. If you aren’t a business traveler who flies a lot, I tell my friends in the US to gravitate towards Continental’s Onepass program. It’s the only program where miles never expire, so you can slowly but surely build towards a reward over however many years you need. Nothing is more discouraging for an aspiring frequent flyer than to have their miles erased for no good reason.

  250. Pay attention to promotions within your chosen program and consolidate your travel within the time periods of the promotion

  251. Use the credit card partner for your airline of choice and any related utility offers. Miles collect extremely quickly this way.

  252. Always have a spouse/partner/friend take part in the promos and deals so you don’t have to fly first class all alone!

  253. Miles devalue over time and do not accrue “interest” the longer you keep them – and even though ticket prices go up making the miles seem more valuable so does the cost of a “free ticket” – just use them and do not save them.

  254. If you can rack up miles on cheap or discounted filghts the use them on flights that are more costly, you will be way ahead of the game!

  255. She’s a no brainer mate- use a the same credit card for ALL OF YOUR PURCHASES and the same for travel – you will say DANG! I EARNED ALL THOSE MILES!? Fair Dinkum?

    Don’t limit yourself to a hotel chain…there is no worse way to travel…be free…go where the road leads you. It is about the journey not the destination!

  256. When booking a hotel in a busy city location or at a busy time of year, hotels are less likely to let you use points for free nights or upgrades. Many programs,like SPG (Starwood) allow you to pay cash + points. I’ve found this a great way to book a nice room ( usually the free rooms are by an elevator, ice machine, lower floor etc). But by using the points and cash option, the rooms are usually upgrades. You still earn points on the portion of the room paid in cash so it’s a win/win.

  257. Sign up for the promotions that link two travel partners together when taking a trip, like get bonus Delta miles for staying at Marriott or get bonus Hertz points for staying at Hilton. That way you get extra points from the promotion with one company and regular with the other. It’s a win win for sure!

  258. Tip: Start a mileage program only with the major airline serving your area, and search online for free mileage contests and promotions! (and check this site frequently, from some really knowledgeable flyers)

  259. If you accumulate points mostly on spend and can’t decide on a card—- the American Express charge cards and the SPG Amex offer flexible points that can be redeemed for hotels, merchandise or highly sought after upper class international airfare.

  260. SPG points to LAN kilometers is the best credit card deal out there per dollar spent, especially for short, expensive flights on OneWorld partners.

  261. Don’t neglect mileage credit on partner airlines – sometimes really small lines are affiliated with your program. It’s worth a little extra time on the website to ensure that you can be credited for trips on small carriers.

  262. My top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points is to do their research and utilize as many resources as possible. For example, utilize partnered dining websites and shopping websites. If you are going to buy something you might as well get points for it. Additionally, always ask if a loyalty program is doing a promotion for bonus points (there is always one going on). For those looking to use their points my best advice is to research forums and ask question sof experienced travellers. We are a community we are always there to help! Also, see if there are combined packages that are available. It may cost less points to transfer your airline miles to hotel points and take advantage of a combined vacation package. In summation, ask questions! The worst answer you could get is no, and usually you will get tips and advice on how to maximize your points.

  263. Use RSS feeds and SMS alerts on your phone from favorite travel and deal websites to ensure you see the best points deals and promotions that you can take advantage of while you are traveling.

  264. look into alliance partners and non-flight earning opportunities, such as miles for shopping online.

  265. If travel is flexable wait unil you find a good promotion before booking. I never travel unless I can get at least double points.

  266. Before booking a trip, check out the special promotions offered on the airline and hotel websites to make sure you are registered for all applicable promotions.

  267. Be flexible with travel dates–experience new places when the price is right and earn miles along the way 🙂

    Use farecompare.com searcher to get best deals regarding cost per mile and to find those new places to see. http://www.farecompare.com/search/flyertalk.html

    Stay loyal to one airline to get even more miles with elite bonus miles!

    Take advantage of promos & join flyertalk.com community to keep up with the latest.

    Always look for the new route bonuses!

    Get a credit card that gives you miles per $ spend (my pref Delta Plat Amex) and charge everything paying balance off at end of the month. Track what you spend and when you hit the annual spending that gives you more miles–switch to 2nd point card (for me SPG Amex).

    If looking for award tickets to Europe, always call the agents and be patient and very kind to them–they will work it for you and search all of the partner sites too. It has taken me some time on the phone but they have always been able to find me a low mileage award ticket even on short notice for Europe in the summer 🙂 If by chance they can’t find anything then at least you were nice to them anyway as I am sure that is always welcome.

    Don’t overlook discount European airlines if you can not get into your desired European destination–fly into where the award is low if you can coordinate a cheap flight to your desired destination.

    And most importantly—Enjoy life & the adventures!

  268. Research, Research, Research. There are many sites that provide lots of data, but research is required for you to pick the most advantageous deals/promotions/etc for your loyalty program or to use your points/miles. Not everyone is a serious traveler, but that doesn’t mean you can’t earn points/miles but with the proper research, you can pick the best program for your travel schedule.

  269. Make people around you and your family aware of the benefits of miles. You”ll be surprised to find how many people just let go of miles and don’t know how to take advantage of them. You can benefit from miles of your friends and family members too by doing certain promotions together and doubling your miles.

  270. When booking an award ticket with miles, use allowed free stopovers to get the most value out of your miles and see new places that you may not otherwise have seen.

  271. Pick your loyalties and stick with them! Switching around between airlines and hotel chains will scatter your points around and probably not earn you elite status anywhere. It’s worth it in the long run to not always go with the cheapest price in order to maintain your loyalty to that carrier or brand!

  272. Make sure every fare/hotel you stay at “actually” earns points, I don’t know how many times people book something and they end up not earning points on it. Look for promotions and BE FLEXIBLE when it comes to redeeming. The farther out you can book the better off you are!

  273. Have flexibility with dates, think outside of the box on routings, and be nice to the person helping you on the other line!

  274. Concentrate your loyalty to only a few programs(at most) and take advantage of all their bonus promos! They add up surprisingly quick.

  275. Use a mileage tracking tool for a consolidated view of your portfolio of air, car and hotel accounts. It can be easy to miss expriring miles, etc otherwise.

  276. Before you buy anything online, check a website like evreward.com for points-earning opportunities. I earn thousands of miles and points a year for my modest online purchases, and it’s a good way to keep points from expiring.

  277. Nothing beats the Starwood Amex card. Easiest way we’ve found to earn and use points. Starwood also has the excellent cash+points option which I haven’t seen from other loyalty programs.

  278. To help roll with the punches of limited availability for award tickets, keep in your mind a list of places you’d like to visit, and when those hard-to-find award seats to a place on your list pop up, book the trip and go. Picking a specific date and a specific destination and *then* looking for award tickets is a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

  279. Use your point earning credit card for EVERYTHING Yes, I mean EVERYTHING (but pay it off at the end of the month of course). I even use it in the soda machine at work. And be sure to sign up for all of the extras such as ‘dining for miles’, special airline promotions, and miles earning surveys. Fun to watch the miles add up.

  280. Mileage cards are often the best bang for the credit card buck, and Amex often does have the better mileage offers than many other cards. I personally prefer to get cash back on my cards, though, and spend it as I choose. (Up to 4%).

    Can’t really come up with anything better for building miles than have already reported on. Choosing an alliance that services your local airport(s) to destinations that you tend to fly to, sticking with that alliance when possible, and picking the longer route if available that’ll still get you there on time.

  281. Check your main airline’s foreign partner airlines for earning miles, not just alliance airlines.

    For example, one can fly direct to Taipei on EVA Airways and earn Continental One Pass miles, even though EVA is not in the star alliance. EVA is cheaper than United and United no longer flies direct.

  282. Add the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card to your wallet and earn 3x points on airfare and 2x points on gas and groceries. Plus, if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 bonus points. There are more than 140 partners with whom to redeem your points for a wide selection of travel, shopping and dining rewards.

  283. Starwood Preferred Guest points are powerful currency, especially since you can convert them 1:1 into most airline programs, allowing you some of the best flexibility for finding and redeeming awards, depending on which airline may have availability.

  284. Watch out for SPG/Hyatt/Hilton/Marriott/Priority Club free night promos… burn those and save the points! Also, look for the best free night promotions: longer redemption period, less restrictions on hotel categories the free nights can be used for, less nights/stays needed per free night earned.

  285. Get a credit card with the iarline that has it’s hub where you live for example Chicago-United airlines

  286. If your airline miles or hotel points are expiring, you can order something from a partner vendor to keep your account active (and earn points at the same time).

  287. As amateurish as it sound, I go through my “travel checklist” before every trip that includes bringing a printout of all my FF and FH account numbers. Just in case I have to switch flights or hotels.

  288. I go through my “travel checklist” before every trip that includes bringing a printout of all my FF and FH account numbers. Just in case I have to switch flights or hotels.

  289. There is no one size fits all program. Carefully think about what you want out of the rewards program and find one that fits your needs best. Then focus on that program and their partners with the end goal in mind. If you stray, you’ll just be that much further away from your goal.

  290. I use Priority Club PointBreaks when a travel around the country for my photography. Many times my driving itinerary allows a lot of flexibility in where I spend the night. At 5,000 points per night my points go a lot further than they would using them for a standard stay. On a recent four week trip I used PointBreaks fifteen times.

  291. Plan for credit card sign up bonus especially for people in the U.S. Do it twice or once a year can get you a lot of miles / points even you don’t travel much.
    Then, join Flyertalk learn to know how to use these miles and points wisely.

  292. My tip is to use credit card offers as much as possible. I do that, earning sign-up bonuses, and occassionally retention bonuses. Some cards allow you to get the sign up bonus multiple times. I also transfer some AA miles I earn to Hilton to allow me hotel points also.

  293. Consider working with a hotel branded credit card, then use earned points to pay for hotels, airfare, or other services.

  294. When dining out with a group of friends and the bill comes on one ticket they always choose to pay cash. I take all their cash and then pay the entire bill – along with my portion of course – on my credit card simply to get the miles.

    I’m disciplined enough to put the cash in my banking account and make a payment towards the credit card right away.

  295. Save. Go in style. If you have “world points” or any sort of airline reward points, use those for big trips. Use smaller trips you can pay for “out of pocket” on your credit card towards more reward points.

  296. When redeeming remember to use partner award travel options. Several times they will not be displayed online and the agent will not list them over the phone. Make sure you know the alliance and non alliance airline partners and try to create your own itinerary using a travel site. Once you have an itinerary call the airline and ask the agent for availability on those flights you’ve selected. Have several options in terms of airlines, dates, and flight times. For earning miles use your credit card for everything. I use my SPG Amex card for something as small as a 99cent purchase. The SPG Amex actually allows you to earn 1.25 miles per dollar as for every 20000 points transferred to an airline you received a 5,000 bonus.

  297. Earn miles and points the cheapest ways you can and then burn them in the most luxurious ways you can. 🙂

  298. Know where you are going, research the award chart, get enough miles (a much easier job with Amex MR), finally be flexible and secure the award seat EARLY!

  299. You don’t need to be a customer of an airline to take advantage of their loyalty programme – think alliances. For example, I am one of BMI’s best customers despite having never flown on one of their flights. The same has been true of Air Canada in the past.

  300. Don’t let your points expire! It’s a great idea to get and hoard as many miles as possible, but make sure to know the rules of your particular program as they can all go to waste if you don’t meet minimum activity requirements…

  301. Use your miles to travel to exotic places where the tickets are extremely expensive, but you need to plan ahead. Well, sometimes you don’t have to, because not many people know those places 😀

    Anyway, this usually yield the best value of miles.

  302. Keep a spreadsheet of all your point activity. That way if the program makes a mistake- and it happens- you can get it corrected.

    In addition, it’s a positive motivator and helps you manage your points (to keep them from expiring for instance.)

  303. Get yourself a mileage earning credit card!

    If you are going to spend money, then why not spend it and earn something back at the same time?

  304. Be smart about what you use your points for. International tickets and international upgrades tend to be the best uses of points.

  305. Take advantage of low fares to boost up your mileage total. Quick weekend trips can rack up the miles if you pay attention to what you earn versus what the trip costs.

  306. check the provider’s websites often for bonus offers – so many times I’ve checked and found offers that were never emailed to me

  307. Redeem your miles for premium class tickets to overseas, or Hawaii, and Alaska. These are among the best value of your miles. Always plan ahead, usually you can book your award travels 330 days in advance. Keep that information in mind whenever you are thinking a nice trip. Good luck to us all!

  308. Sign up for all the loyalty programs you can then track the detailed information, membership numbers, benefits, enrollment dates etc. Use this information every time you book travel or stays for frequent upgrades, perks and free stays. There are a lot of programs out there so search and track once you find them.

  309. Consolidate, consolidate, consolidate! Do whatever you have to do to fly on one airline/alliance and stay at one hotel chain.

  310. Credit all of your flying in any alliance to one account, which gives you the best chance of scoring high value awards, like Business class to Europe.

  311. The Best use of your miles are international Business/First awards, don’t waste your miles on anything less.

  312. 1 Consider using your airline rewards for upgrades to first class or business class.
    2 Read flyertalk and the blogs like this
    3 Plan ahead for better availability
    4 some good luck

  313. Try to use some of the new one way awards, often these have more availability than the regular standard (25K) awards. I have found them to be available when I cannot a round trip.

  314. Taking advantage of those credit card bonus offers and Chase checking accounts offers. I got more than 100k last years!

  315. Keep a positive attitude and the longview about reaching your destination. Actual airtime goes quickly when you are calm and content.

  316. Don’t be afraid to check costs of adding additional legs (and miles) to your flight! I wound up paying a lot less by adding 2 more stops to my cross country trip, gaining me segments and EQM!

  317. Stick to one or two programs for each of air, car, hotel, etc and be completely loyal to those, for example, go with SPG + SPG Amex + stay only at SPG hotels and sign up for as many promotions as possible via milemaven/pointmaven

  318. Don’t let your miles expire. For $1 (more or less), you can extend them buy buying a song for download to your PC through the airlines web shopping mall’s portal to Itunes.

  319. Find a program and stick to it. Pay very close attention to the expiration dates on your rewards, especially the free car vouchers and such (like the 1 2 free promo by National, those things expire really fast.
    Especially when dealing with rental cars try and break into a higher tier as you’ll get better service and better cars usually.
    For what it’s worth I’ve found points don’t matter as much as the perks to me. I would much rather get upgraded on 20 domestic flights than get one free international flight.

  320. The top tip for friends, which is beyond obvious to any frequent flyers, is to always collect the miles. I have too many friends who respond with “oh, I don’t have the time” or “well, it was only one trip”, only to find that they start traveling more on that particular airline and would have had the miles for an award if they had only listened.

  321. Do your homework! Know EVERYTHING about the loyalty rewards program you chose: one-time promotions, how to get bonus points, who are the partners, etc.
    Every time you make a reservation/pay for something (store, hotel, restaurant, purchase on-line, concert, trip to a museum, etc) remember to check if you can use your loyalty card. EVERY LITTLE BIT ADDS UP!!!

  322. There are so many good tips, and here is the only one that hasn’t already been said and resaid:

    When you have a lousy experience with an airline, CONTACT the airline immediately; often you will receive double miles or at least courtesy miles. And if you don’t, you’re not being descriptive enough!!

    I’ve had great experiences with Delta’s customer service responding to some horrid flight experiences (when you fly 80,000 miles a year, you’re bound to have a few ugly ones!)

  323. Sign up for AwardWallet.com to keep track of your mileage balances if you are a member of several programs (like me!). The free version is great, but for as little as $1 for 6 months, you can also keep track of expiration dates for your programs, so that you don’t lose your hard-earned miles & points due to inactivity.

  324. Keep it simple! Choose one loyalty program that best suits your personal needs. They sometimes change so get updates, because what you don’t know about your loyalty program can hurt you.

  325. Earn airline miles with one carrier/alliance but with at least two hotel chains to ensure that there’s a location you can use points on a trip and in case the hotel of choice has no rooms available, that way you have a backup to use when you want to cash in points for a trip.

  326. Be sure to enter as many programs as you can, but try to concentrate your miles/points in one or two.

  327. Always know the promotions for your program and do your best to take advantage of them.

  328. If you get a rep that says it cant be done, hang up and call again until you get a rep that will work with you and is knowledgeable. Try try try again.

  329. Do the math. Even if a domestic ticket seems expensive, it’s almost never worth it to burn miles. Save them for your international trips.

  330. be sure to earn miles on accounts that you may not be using much. Many airlines will dump you if there is no activity in a certain period of time. So, buy something online through the airline web site or use their dinning program for a meal.

  331. My advice would be to “get loyal” with a favorite hotel chain/ airline/ rental car company – higher level loyal members, Starwood Platinums, Hyatt Diamonds, United 1ks, for example not only earn base points but bonus points for these member classifications, as well as other perks and upgrades (free) that rewards the loyal frequent traveler. Also, using a branded credit card to pay for these hotel rooms and plane tickets (United’s Visa, Starwood’s Amex, for example) have a way of being a point multiplier for increased earnings ad well.

  332. One tip that has served me well: be aware of opportunities to transfer miles/points from one program to another for free without devaluation.

    A good one is Amtrak Guest Rewards -> Continental OnePass. Limit of 50K per year – and even that might only be for Amtrak elite pax. It’s a steal. Eg right now there’s an offer for the co-branded Chase MC that yields 18K Amtrak points upon activation and another 18K with $2K spend. Easiest 36K Continental miles I’ve every heard of.

    Similarly know how much the miles/points are worth to you so you know when to earn and when to burn.

  333. I’ve been reading FlyerTalk for ages, earning 20,000 miles a month on average. But as I’ve gotten older, my time has become more valuable and I’ve had more disposable income. Therefore, I recommend being a little more willing to spend money instead of sacrifice time to build mileage balances.

    On Continental, I have the Presidental Plus credit card, which gives a 25% redeemable miles bonus. I pay in advance for the Extra Mile bonus, which is another 50%. I have Platinum status, offering a 100% bonus. And I frequently purchase B fares, which are upgradeable at booking and earn 150% EQM, good for keeping status.

  334. Be friendly with hotel/airline counter agents! You just may get upgraded – especially if you are traveling on a special occasion such as your honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Let them know!

  335. Always check with these seasoned travel blogger who are finding specials and good deals for us! I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! Thanks.

  336. Know what your programs’ expiration rules are and what it takes to keep your miles/points from expiring. Even if you don’t have enough miles in your account to take a flight, you may have an opportunity in the future to get enough for a ticket. Keeping miles alive in many programs can also be done cheaply. For example, buying a song on iTunes keeps United miles alive for another 18 months.

  337. Many airline carriers allow for one-way award redemptions. If you have trouble finding round trip award availability at the lowest redemption level, do some one-way searches before ponying up the higher amount of miles

  338. I would recommend using a service like Ben’s or Gary’s to maximize mileage. Using an expert who is versed in all the tools out there like ANA tool, Expertflier, KVS, etc. — makes a HUGE difference. Rather than spend hours and hours looking up availability let the experts do it for a relatively modest fee.

  339. Save those miles and use them for a once in a lifetime opportunity like a round the world trip. It might take a while to get there, but will be worth the wait!

  340. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points? At Christmastime, do all your shopping online for FF miles! I’ve racked up lots of points this way and have traveled to Europe and California using my FF miles.

  341. Use the Starwood AMEX to accumulate points, then transfer to your favorite airline program with a 25% bonus for 20,000 point exchanges. Alternatively keep Starwood Amex points in reserve so you can transfer smaller amounts to “top off” airline accounts to reach the award you need.

  342. earn/consolidate to one frequent flyer program of an alliance. Always check the ‘Fare basis code’. Starwood Preferred Guest card is best credit card for earning miles, gives 5k bonus for redeeming 20k miles to 30 different FFP program.

  343. My top tip:

    Never let a mile go waste: Never pay cash when you can charge to a mile earning card, never let any miles expire, never miss a mileage promotion and never use miles for free flights for yourself.

  344. Make sure you maximize the bonus offers and use your points rapidly. Also stay to one or two brands at the most to maximize your status.

  345. Air miles and some hotel points expire. When you sign up to earn these miles, ask the related parties how long you have to accrue the points, how long they are valid and if there are policies on extending earned miles or awards. Be careful!

  346. Consolidate to one or two rewards programs, enter all promotions, and use points as they accumulate so much as is reasonable to counter any fears of inflationary pressures the points may face (and limits the need to worry about expiration dates).

  347. I am a big fan of Hilton HHonors for hotel loyalty programs. But use your points on the really really expensive hotels — you can get a $600 room for the same number of points as a $200 room. Also if you are the highest loyalty level (diamond) you can get a guaranteed spot even in a full hotel, and you pretty much get upgraded to the nicest room automatically. So pay for the cheapest room with points, and then get upgraded to an executive suite with lots of free goodies. Also you can earn points with them through their dining partners — pretty wide selection of restaurants.

  348. Pay attention to new routes, which tend to have better award availability during their start-up period. For instance, I was able to snag award C seats in SQ’s new business class on the MUC-SIN (and v/v) route during its initial months of operation.

  349. If you only travel a moderate amount, make every hotel stay one night and then switch hotels for the next night. This is the qucikest way to elite levels at the hotel chains. The hotels always require less stays than nights to reach elite levels, so by switching hotels nightly, you can earn elite status with just 2-3 stays per month.

  350. If you find you are getting “spun” by the hotels and airlines when you try to use your points/miles, write directly (and nicely) to the CEO of the company (registered mail), with all the facts and details, enclosing all relevant documents. We had hundreds of thousands of points and miles but couldn’t use them for one reason or another for years… UNTIL I did that. We were contacted Immediately and got to have the honeymoon of our DREAMS, and the hotels and airlines treated us like GOLD! I have used this technique effectively with CEOs from several major corporations (inc. Marriott and Delta) to resolve a variety of issues. As my dad said “You don’t ask, you don’t get”! But ask Nice!

  351. The best advice I ever received is to pick one carrier/alliance and one hotel chain and stick with it. It’s much better to be the top of one program than the middle of many. You want all of the points you achieve to get you the most you possibly can, not spread out across different alliances or chains.

  352. Read Flyertalk and blogs like this for the latest advice on mileage earning and burning opportunities.

  353. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines/rental car companies/hotels/credit cards/etc. partner with one another!). Save those miles for your dream first-class trip anywhere! Luxurious air travel is the best way to get the most out of your miles. 😀

    Thanks!

  354. Track your points, miles and your bank/credit accounts with Yodlee! Spend your miles smart by reading flyertalk and boardingarea blogs.

  355. Pick an alliance, use it. Pay for everything with your miles card. Use any opportunity for double and triple miles offers. Use up the miles before the airline goes out of business.

  356. Focus on a few – preferably one loyalty programs – for flights and hotels and try to maximize the amount of points you can gain for these programs. Like George Clooney says in “Up in the air” – never spend a dime without trying to gain points for it. Taking advantage of the excellent resources on the web – like boarding area blogs that will help you find all the ways to earn those points. Then use ’em quickly and enjoy!

  357. Earn every chance you can and credit to as few programs as possible (consolidate). For example, credit flights to one airline program per alliance and when staying at a hotel outside your “preferred” hotel program(s), try to credit to an airline rather than holding just a couple of points in every program.

  358. sign up for every program. I sharply regret the stays and flights I made before enrolling thinking a one night stay here and there it was not worth it.

  359. I use my rewards card to pay for almost everything, and then have my wife book trips. It just works better that way.

  360. Obtain the credit card for your favorite airline. If you’re going to be spending money anyway you may as well get something for it. Also the program I use you can use mile to upgrade to first class on international flights. For example on a discount economy ticket from New York to Tokyo, which can run about $900 roundtrip, you can upgrade to first class for 60,000 miles and $1000 roundtrip. That same first class ticket would cost over $11000 and because you still earn miles for the flight that means it only costs you 45000 miles to save $9000.

  361. Read Boarding Area blogs – they boil down the fluff into the nitty gritty. Join Flyertalk and forge invaluable friendships with people who can help cover all the bases. They got my back!

  362. Don’t let your accumulated miles take on too much OR too little importance; use them as a tool that fits your personal circumstances. If you don’t often travel internationally, resist the urge to hoard miles for international vacations. If you need a quick, last-minute flight to visit an ailing relative or get to a job interview, use your miles! Put your miles to work for the things that matter to you.

  363. Stop, put your pencils down! 😀

    The contest is now closed. I’ll be randomly picking a number between 1 and 481 (via random.org) tomorrow morning.

  364. My Tip:
    Finding award availability on the internet is not always easy – each airline website has its own quirks. Some don’t show partner award availability, some have a very poor search feature, and some don’t make it easy to look at multiple days at a time. I like ANA.co.jp for most Star Alliance availability, BA.com for OneWorld, and you have to work a combination of Airfrance.com and Delta.com to find SkyTeam awards. Each has its pluses and minuses. Sometimes you have to search segment by segment and piece together the whole trip. It can be frustrating, but assembling this information will be essential to finding the award you want.

    Once you have the data – and a few alternatives – pick up the phone and call an agent. You will pay a few extra dollars, but if you are looking for Business Class or First Class it will be well worth it. And, try not to overpay for awards: often times the easy way to find a seat is to pay extra miles for the “Flexible” awards but with patience and the right search tools you can usually do much better as long as you are flexible.

  365. I’m not late!! It’s not midnight in the Mountain Time zone yet!

    Don’t ignore the hotel side of award trips. A one-week vacation will set you back just as much in hotels as airfare, so maximize your hotel stays. I like the Starwood American Express card because of the flexibility of the points, good award availability and options (eg. cash+points, redeem 4 nights and get 1 free), and the nice properties. And you can transfer the points to airlines if you want.

    Kim

  366. Leave good instructions for your heirs on how to access your miles in all your accounts. You don’t want them to go to waste– rather, you want your kids to be able to use them should you die unexpectedly. Once the airline knows you’re gone, they will probably lock your miles.

  367. Try and sketch out your years travel at the start of the year. This lets you calculate your flight miles goal and predict when you’ll reach it. You can then estimate when you’re likely to reach your goal and look into other methods (hotels, car rentals etc) to speed things along.

  368. Stay up to date on flyertalk.com and blogs like this one.. and you’ll know how to be smart about earning and using points.

  369. pick a airline you like and goes where you wanna go, then sign up for all of the programs you can with them and their partners to earn as many as you can.

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