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You don’t have to be a frequent flyer to earn free flights. Use these tips to boost your frequent flyer miles in the air AND on the ground.
1. Get a mileage credit card. Choose a credit card from the airline that you fly most or would like to use for a free trip. There are great deals when you sign up. If you shop around, you should be able to get enough miles to take a free flight just for signing up and using the card. I personally like, American Airlines which has a deal right now that gives you 30,000 bonus miles after spending $750 in the first 4 months with the $50 annual fee waived for the first year. That’s enough miles for a free domestic flight! There are great deals with every airline so choose the one you fly the most or go with a card like American Express that has many partners for mileage redemption. Keep in mind that applying for too many credit cards will lower your credit rating so pick a card you really want with a big mileage bonus.
2. Sign up for a frequent flyer program that corresponds with your mileage credit card even if you are not flying anywhere soon. When you do take a trip, make sure you get credit for the mileage that you fly. You will probably be able to get credit on that same airline for your hotel stay and rental car too. In addition to mileage credit, you can get discounted rates with hotel and rental car partners too.
3. Check out the websites for your frequent flyer program and your mileage credit cards. They often have special deals that let you accrue extra miles for buying groceries, dining out, paying bills, etc…
4. Be loyal – pick a favorite airline or hotel and try to stick with it as much as possible. You will rack up enough points for a trip if you stick with one or two programs. Most programs will allow you to keep accruing mileage for years as long as there is activity in your account once every 12-24 months. If you do have multiple programs, try to have one in each of the three major airline alliances – Star Alliance, Sky Team and One World as opposed to having multiple programs in the same alliance. The reason being, is that you will have a wider variety of airlines to choose from when you have enough miles for a frequent flyer ticket.
5. Avoid booking travel through third party travel websites. Often that great bargain you find comes with complicated modification policies, no frequent flyer miles and difficult hotel check-ins. I like to use travel sites for price information and then book directly through the airline or hotel. It allows me to get mileage credit for all aspects of my trip. I can cancel my hotel on the day of my stay if need be with no penalty and I never have a problem with a hotel finding my reservation.
6. Keep track of your frequent flyer programs. There’s a great website that keeps track of everything (including shopping programs) called AwardWallet.com. It’s free and will help you keep track of airline miles and expiration dates, hotel programs, credit card programs, shopping programs, dining programs, and more. Here is a list of all of the programs they support. I love this website!
7. Plan in advance when you have enough miles to book a trip. Most programs will let you book tickets 6 months ahead of time. You’ll get a better deal and use fewer miles if you plan early – especially if you are looking for a free trip over school holidays.
Do you have any good tips to boost frequent flyer mileage?
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