Where To Credit Airline Miles

One of the challenges in collecting miles is knowing where to credit the miles earned on a given flight. The combination of alliances and fare codes can make it tricky, especially for those new to miles. The Ask Lucky forum has a question nearly everyday about how many miles will be earned for a certain flight, or what the best deal is, etc., so it’s something a lot of people can struggle with.

I have a strategy and a timesaver tool, which I figured I’d share for those who might be in a similar situation.

Know what those miles get you

My strategy is to think about your future travel desires, and how the miles you might earn for a flight can support those plans. Just because you can credit miles to say, Thai Royal Orchid Plus, doesn’t mean you should. There is possibly (and really probably), a better alternative with a partner carrier.

There’s a lot of nuance to this. Everyone’s goals vary, of course, but it also depends on how you’re able to earn miles. If you aren’t familiar with the “goalposts” for various awards, or which programs might make the most sense for your travel goals, be sure to check out our post on how many miles are needed for an award ticket.

My new favorite tool: Where To Credit

Knowing which miles you’d like to earn is the critical first step. Knowing what miles you can earn on a given flight helps as well.

It can be pretty confusing to go through airline earnings charts prior to a flight (or even a purchase) in order to see how many miles you’d earn. Where To Credit is a newish tool that consolidates all that information, and tells you the best options.

There are a couple of ways to use Where To Credit. The first is to enter the airline you’re interested in flying on the homepage:

Where-To-Credit-Miles-005

This pulls up all the booking classes (that they know about) for that airline, and the associated partner earnings rates:

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Super useful, especially if you’re considering two fares for the same flight. Earnings rates can vary tremendously on a slightly higher fare, so it’s nice to get a snapshot.

Where To Credit also has a Mileage Calculator, which I think is fabulous.

Enter your flights, carrier, and booking class, and the calculator approximates what you’d earn on each partner.

My flights on Aeromexico, for example, had the following partner earnings rates:

Where-To-Credit-Miles-001 Where-To-Credit-Miles-002

In this case I credited to Alaska, as 1430 Alaska miles are a better fit with my future travel than anything else.

As another example, I’ll be going to Hawaii in a few weeks, and am actually flying Hawaiian. Hawaiian isn’t in any alliances, but Where To Credit makes it easy to see the best options:

Where-To-Credit-Miles-003 Where-To-Credit-Miles-004

For the most part, I’ve found Where To Credit to be pretty accurate, and they’ve been good about fixing errors, so I feel comfortable recommending it. They have a Chrome extension as well that syncs with some Online Travel Agencies, but I haven’t experimented with that.

Bottom line

For those concerned about elite status, other tools (or a handmade spreadsheet) will be the better tracking option. But Where To Credit is perfect for those random deals that come up or when you’re flying outside your core alliance.

How do you decide where to credit miles?

Comments

  1. How do you find the the fare class for tickets on third party websites?

    They don’t give you details unless you book the ticket. And then you find out the great deal isn’t so great because you won’t get any miles.

  2. Can you change airline you credited after you have flown? We just flew Aer Lingus economy one way, business the other and I’d like to credit miles to United

  3. @ Margaret – I just did that and it worked BUT only because the original airline I was crediting to did not give me ANY miles whatsoever. I then contacted United and got 50% of miles with them after I became aware of WhereToCredit.com.

  4. @ Credit — Hmm, it must depend which OTA you’re using. Orbitz shows the fare details, or you can always search on ITA and match it with what you’re getting ready to book. Worst case, I just assume a crazy deal is the lowest possible fare bucket.

  5. Will this work for a code share? Im trying to decide where to bank miles on a Delta marketed, Air France/KLM operated flight. I’d prefer not to bank with Delta, but when I read the rules of Alaska and even AF, it seems that they won’t give credit for a code share.

  6. I fly UA a lot and always credit UA. I might consider another airline for credit but will I still get my EQM and EQD toward status?
    Thanks

  7. I don’t know what I’m doing.

    For years my employer had me flying on Skyteam carriers so I plopped all the miles into Delta. Now, employer has me on Oneworld. Had no idea where to credit the miles. Asked everyone on ‘Ask Lucky’. Someone said BA so I went with that. I still have no idea if that’s really best for me.

    P.S. Good morning, Tiffany! How are you?

  8. @ Stuart — The rules for codeshares can be tricky. Alaska does indeed require flights to be “marketed and operated” by the partner airline, so that won’t work. You should be able to credit to FlyingBlue, as there rule for Air France is “Flights that are operated by Air France and marketed as AF, KL or a SkyTeam-partner”.

  9. @ Imperator — Good morning!!

    BA isn’t a bad option if you are able to earn miles in other ways for international long-haul travel. And if your employer is putting you on BA, Avios are great for upgrades.

    But, it probably depends on what/where you’re flying, and the earnings rates. I’d still rather have 100k AA miles than 100k Avios, personally.

  10. Thanks, Tiffany.

    All of my domestic travel (which comes out of my pocket) is still on DL because I just like Delta.

    For my “commute” between IAD and the KSA, employer now sticks me on either BA or QR in business. So I guess it makes sense to stick with BA’s Executive Club. Is that what it’s called? Executive Club? You can see how much attention I pay to all of this. And it really doesn’t matter as the miles just sit there collecting dust. But…are you saying that I can use those Avios things to upgrade from Club World to First? That would be nice as Club World can be tight.

    Not to sound like grandpa, but it was so much simpler back in the 1980s! I lived in Boston and traveled back & forth to Scotland on the old Northwest. It was a nonstop flight from BOS to Prestwick on a domestically configured DC10. Dreadfully uncomfortable, even in first. But miles accumulation was straightforward and easy to understand: you got miles for the flights you flew. Period. And I remember the redemption chart as being equally as simplistic: 100,000 miles for two first class tickets from BOS to BKK. Period. It was so much fun to be dating a guy and to just nonchalantly say “would you like to have dinner in Bangkok this weekend?” And then to simply drop by the NW ticket office and have them effortlessly issue the tickets.

    So simple! But nowadays…geez. I don’t know how you kids keep track of all the complicated rules, regulations and loopholes.

  11. @ Imperator –It’s definitely more complicated now, but you can do it!

    1) Upgrading those business class flights on British Airways to F would be a great use of miles, see more here: http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/09/20/upgrade-british-airways-avios/

    2) It *might* be better to credit the Qatar flights to American, but it depends on how often you’re flying. If you can supplement with an occasional credit card that could put Cathay and Etihad in the crosshairs.

  12. Thank you for putting together this post. I’ve been a frequent flyer for a while, but have always managed to fly exclusively Delta/KLM/Air France so I never had where-to-credit questions. But now that I’m discovering the wonderful world of miles and points beyond my one airline, a whole new world is opening before me. You don’t mention this explicitly in the post, but I’ve kind of being assuming that you can credit a flight from a particular alliance member to any other airline in that same alliance – is that correct? Or do alliances mean you can just redeem within that alliance, but not credit to any airline within it?

    Also, I recently flew Ural Airlines, and Where To Credit doesn’t even recognize them as an option; they have about a dozen partners listed on their site, but I don’t think I can actually credit my flight to those partners. I guess that means I have to credit directly with Ural’s mileage program, but can redeem on another program like Emirates?

    (Sorry for this interrogation of a comment, I”m really realizing the learning curve here)

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