The deeper you delve into frequent flyer mile accumulation, management, and redemption strategies, the more lost you can get. Transferring between accounts, valuating miles, managing multiple programs, and ultimately – strategizing for your next free flight (hopefully in business class) – can be a lot of work.
But once you are familiar with the territory and have systems in place, it doesn’t have to be difficult.
Frequent Flyer Mile Accumulation
Although you can expect to earn frequent flyer miles through a variety of programs and offers, you’ll want to acquaint yourself with the major airline alliances, and which frequent flyer programs will serve your travel goals best. It’s often recommended to choose an airline from each major alliance and focus most of your efforts on them. It’s also good to use a program with “universal” points, that allow you to convert to multiple programs at a 1:1 ratio.
Accumulation strategies abound, from little social media promotions, to frequent flyer mile credit cards, retail bonus deals, online shopping portals, and of course, flying.
Frequent Flyer Mile Management
Management of your frequent flyer miles can be an onerous task. Although you can use a few different sites to track your miles, you’ll also need to manually monitor and track the attribution of miles to your accounts. Some programs have up to 90 days to deposit miles to your account; it’s easy to forget about in the meantime. If you monitor the miles due to you, mistakes (which happen) can be easily fixed with a phone call.
You also want to keep an eye on expiration dates (which frequent flyer mile tracking sites can assist with), but think carefully about switching miles between accounts through these sites; it’s usually a bum deal.
Frequent Flyer Mile Redemption
Now it’s time to reap the hard work of accumulation and management. Frequent flyer mile redemption, however, isn’t exactly a walk in the park either.
You’ll have to find the alliance that offers the best deal/routing for your trip, then book with the frequent flyer mile program you’ve been accumulating with. Getting available seats is the next trick, since flights offer limited rewards seats. You’ll have the best luck by booking early; consider different routes if there’s nothing available.
And remember – “free” flights aren’t actually free. When you book a rewards ticket, you’re still on the hook for airport taxes and airline fees – which can be hefty. Some airlines/airport fees and taxes are notoriously bad; you can lower your costs by looking at alternate routes/airports.
These posts below expand on all the points above and provide resources for you to explore.
These e-books and programs will help you get your frequent flyer mile freak on – big time. Some also provide deal alerts to your in-box (a valuable time-saver).