The Trip for Two to Australia’s Gold Coast Contest

Okay – it’s finally here.

This giveaway is sponsored by American Express Premier Gold Card Rewards card and the travel experts at BoardingArea.

The prize: Seven nights/eight days hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, activities and round-trip airfare for two people to the Gold Coast of Australia (Queensland).

Total value = $10,250!

Those that can enter: The contest is open at all United States residents, 18 years and older (void in US territories). For the complete list of full contest details and rules click here

How to enter: Post a comment on this blog post with an answer to this question: “What is your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?”

You can enter between March 22, 2010 and March 28, 2010. Increase your chances of winning by posting a comment on the other 20 BoardingArea blogs that are participating. Only one entry per person per blog.

After March 28, 2010, I will randomly select one of the comments from this post to move on to the final drawing pool of 20 winners. So go ahead and comment!

Your chances of winning here are excellent, I’ve seen my Google Analytic traffic report!

UPDATE:

Thanks to Musings of the Global Traveller for providing links to the other posts on the other blogs.

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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. Earn the miles/points in the cheapest possible ways and then burn them for the most luxurious travel!

  3. Pick a program and stick with it. You shouldn’t be earning miles in both US and United programs especially if you don’t fly much.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. I use American Express Membership Rewards – it’s a convenient way 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.

  8. 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’.

  9. Take advantage of 2 stays=1 free night promotions by staying in 2 cheap local hotels and splurging on a high end luxury one for your free night (Hyatt and hopefully SPG again)

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. All miles are not equal. Know the strengths and weaknesses of the programs you participate in so that when it comes time to redeem an award, you’re using the currency that gets you the most bang for your buck (or mile or point).

  13. Earn points with American Express 3x gold card or the starwood Amex for more flexability.

    Then try to get your award with the following information.

    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.

    Use your points for Business or First Class to get more bang for the buck.

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

  15. Be consistent. Why spread your points around and never have enough to do anything with? Find what works for you and stick with it. We recently found a nightly price on a hotel room that we felt we couldn’t pass up, but we really should have gone to the adjacent Intercontintental Hotel in order to get some Priority Club points while we were at it.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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)!

  19. 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!

  20. It helps to remember that you’re NOT certifiably crazy (especially when you’re sitting in J enjoying your award flight). There are other nuts doing this too…

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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 😉

  24. 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.

  25. always book directly through hotels instead of websites like expedia or hotels.com. You cannot earn points that way.

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

  27. AwardWallet and WorldMate Live – both free versions – are fantastic for tracking your miles and itineraries. Donate a few dollars to AwardWallet and try WorldMate Live Gold – you won’t be sorry!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

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

  31. Some alliances have more and better options to certain parts of the world, so make sure you’re happy with where your points are being credited. (Star Alliance: Asia and Europe. oneworld: Australia and South America)

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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.

  35. 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.

  36. 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!

  37. 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).

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. Get a good bluetooth earpiece/headset and allocate some time before calling to redeem the miles. You’re going to be on the phone for some time, so be patient and get comfortable.

  41. 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.

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. Collect miles on all the major alliances, since you may not always get a flight on your alliance. Base your choices in each alliance on where you live and where you fly to.

  46. Even if you can’t find award availability today, keep checking because availability can change at any time.

  47. 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!

  48. 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.

  49. Don’t just travel, be an adventurer. One year while booking reward travel to Athens, the agent told me she could get us to Athens, but couldn’t find a return flight. I asked, is there anything available from a nearby city. She responded, “Two days later, I can get you out of Bucharest Romania.” Without thinking how I was going to make it work, I told her to book it.

    That trip to Greece ended up taking us through Turkey to Romania. We traveled on boat, bus, prop airplane and taxi to complete the trip. It became one of the best vacations of our lives.

  50. 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

  51. Don’t assume deep discount tickets are the best value for upgrades. The difference in price between deep discount (for which a co-pay is often required) and a fare when no co-pay is required is often less than the co-pay itself. Even if you have to pay a phone ticketing fee, it might still be worth it.

  52. 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.

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

  54. 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!

  55. If you can swing it, use your own credit card that gives you the miles for the purchase which gets reimbursed by your employer, then get miles from the flight.

    Also, make sure the FF program you sign up for is actually useful in your region so you can actually use the points from your location.

  56. 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! And definitely use (don’t hoard) those miles/points.

  57. 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! 🙂

  58. Do regular searches for bonus offers and pay attention to what card you use for which purchases to maximize those purchases.

  59. 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

  60. 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!

  61. 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.

  62. 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.

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

  64. 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:)

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

  67. 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.

  68. 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.

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

  70. 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.

  71. Always consider an airline’s partners when trying to book award travel. More likely than not, this will open up new possibilities to redeem at the lower mileage levels.

  72. Don’t overlook earning opportunities that may not be obvious. Sometimes all that is required to earn miles is a single purchase (e.g., 750 miles from deluxe.com through e-miles.com). While the cheapest items on websites may be hard do find, our friend Google will allow you to search a single domain (e.g. deluxe.com). Try searching for terms like “$1.”, “1.”, “$2.”, etc. to find cheap items. With this method, I earned 750 US miles for buying a $3 check cover shipped free. .4cpm!

  73. 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.

  74. 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.

  75. 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.

  76. 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.

  77. 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.

  78. 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!).

  79. learn from those who write these blogs and post on flyertalk. the information available can put you on your way to frugal, while luxurious, travel

  80. 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.)

  81. 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.

  82. 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!

  83. *** 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.

  84. 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.

  85. Redeem your points, don’t hoard them. You never know when a hotel or airline is going to devalue their program (hello, Hilton!).

  86. 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

  87. 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.

  88. Don’t go out of your way to earn points if you would otherwise spend a lot less. Figure out your own personal value for the points you would earn to determine whether earning makes economic sense.

  89. 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!

  90. 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!

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

  92. 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.

  93. 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.

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

  95. 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.

  96. Never, ever, EVER forget to attach your loyalty program number to a reservation or purchase. And if you do forget, most programs have a way to credit you if you submit the details within a certain period. It’s not “too late” until a few months have passed… and that’s plenty of time to send a fax.

  97. 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.

  98. Be polite to the people booking your award travel. They’ll be more likely to search for a strange routing.

  99. 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.

  100. 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!

  101. 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, don’t forget to check for cross-promotions with credit cards and other companies…

  102. Pick a milage program and stick with it. The milage program you chose depends on the type of traveler you are – what kind of hotels do you like? Rental cars? etc. If you ever have questions about milage programs, checkout flyertalk.com.

    Jonathan

  103. 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.

  104. 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.

  105. Sign up with partner programs that allow you to earn miles and points (e-miles, e-rewards, rewardsnetwork, etc) to maximize the points you earn!

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.

  110. 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!

  111. Think big. Domestic flights are (relatively) cheap, so aspire to earn enough miles for international tickets only. The kind of trips that will make your friends jealous. Miles should be about aspiration!

  112. 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.

  113. 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 for 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.

  114. 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.

  115. 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.

  116. 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.

  117. Try looking at different reward options and comparing the number of points/miles required to the value of the trip. Spend cash on the low value redemptions and points on the big trip!

  118. 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.

  119. (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.

  120. 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 & @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.

  121. Always call and ask the airline for a “gratitude adjustment,” as JetBlue puts it: nonworking seats, broken IFE, delayed baggage, etc. — all earn miles.

  122. 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.

  123. 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!

  124. 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.

  125. 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

  126. 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!

  127. 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.

  128. Get a debit visa card that has a mileage rewards program attached and use that for your normal daily and monthly expenses. Miles add up while you buy groceries and gas.

  129. 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!

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

  131. My top tip is to try and accumulate miles in Membership Rewards by American Express since it allows you maximum flexibility to redeem the points and you can earn up to 10X points in the membershiprewards.com eran section and earn 3X points when you shop through the Bonus Points Mall® website.

  132. 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.

  133. 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!
    Also, friends who “don’t bother” with “the whole miles thing” are often happy to lend a hand if you make it easier for them – i.e., “Hey friend, in advance of our trip – click this link, sign up for this promotion, earn 100,000 miles. I’ll show you how we can use them!” Then you have more to work with.

  134. Read read read! Educate yourself! Learn the ins and outs of the mileage and award programs so you can get the best bang for your buck. Only a savvy customer gets the best deal!

  135. 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!!

  136. Come to the Ann Arbor Art Fair DO this July 24 and 25th. You’ll get great tips, including how to book elusive award tickets. Past speakers include Viajero Joven, gleff, Ingy, Lucky9876Coins and wanaflyforless. Details in CommunityBuzz forum on flyertalk.com.

  137. 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.

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

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

  140. 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.

  141. 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.

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

  143. 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!

  144. Concentrate your loyalty to one hotel or airline program and try to earn the highest status level as possible in that program.

  145. Fly within one global airline alliance (ie. Star 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.

  146. 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.

  147. 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.

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

  149. Learn about the partner airlines of an airline program. Understand whether or not they earn Elite-qualifying miles. And make sure you keep the option to use your miles on Partner airlines.

  150. 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.

  151. Check your account regularly to make sure all miles get posted. Keep your boarding passes to retroactively get any miles to post that slip through the cracks.

  152. 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.

  153. 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.

  154. 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.

  155. 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.

  156. 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.

  157. Suppose you need to fly from Cleveland to Venice. Never ask whether award seats are available from Cleveland to Venice. Instead, start with the hub-to-hub routes flown by the carriers in your alliance. Say it’s the Star Alliance: Look for availability on flights from Chicago, Newark, Philadelphia, Toronto, or Washington, D.C. (hubs for Star Alliance partners Continental, United, US Airways, and Air Canada) to Frankfurt, Vienna, Munich, or Copenhagen. That gives you more than 20 possibilities. Once you’ve found a hub-to-hub flight with award seats, tack on the short-haul spoke-to-hub or hub-to-spoke options (Cleveland to Chicago or Dulles, for example, and Frankfurt or Vienna to Venice).

  158. We link all the credit and debit cards for our family (a total of two adults, three college age students, and one high school student)to a single frequent flier account. On paper, my husband gets all the points — and is the most frequent business traveller, but in reality there are at least a dozen cards being used day in and day out to funnel 2 miles for every dollar any of us spend into his account. The kids understand that the price they pay for their tuition, allowances, and other benefits is to let us keep using their spending to further family travel. (When they are paying the bills, they can keep the miles!) And of course, we put all the miles into a coalition frequent flier program, so miles can be redeemed on a number of international airlines.

  159. My tip is to plan early and be persistent. It is possible to get the most out of them, but it takes some effort.

  160. Be sure to maximize your miles / pts earning by multiplying the effects signing up other members of your household for promos and credit cards.

  161. Many semi-frequent flyers don’t realize that they can often credit their flown miles to a different airline miles program within an alliance or through other reciprocal agreements. Doing so can keep all your miles in one place (or at least just a few places), with a potentially significant impact on how soon you’ll have enough miles for award travel.

  162. Earning miles quickly is much easier than you think. Every time you go to pay for something, think of gaining mileage points. Get a credit card (like AmEx) that gives the most mileage points for your favorite airline every time you use the card; I use just that one card for just about everything. Then, check out what companies your airline partners with and shop through them (for i.e. hotel stays, car rentals, and even for significant things like home loans, larger purchases, loans, insurance and even home purchases). Many airlines have “dining for miles” programs (linked up to your credit card), and also online shopping sites (like Delta’s SkyMall) where you get points for money spent (that’s in addition to the miles your credit card will give). You can also rack up the points by completing online surveys for companies linked up to your airline (like erewards.com for Delta miles). Also, check your airline’s frequent flier webpage every now and then for specials offering points. It all adds up quickly! Once you have enough miles on an airline, plan to use them, but give yourself good planning, like 2 months advance reservations, to ensure availability of your preferred travel dates. Remember: once made, the reservations cannot be changed. Lastly, enjoy your free trip to the max!

  163. 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.

  164. read boarding area blogs; browse flyertalk discussions; use Starwood Preferred Guest Card from America Express.

  165. You need to be extremely flexible and keep an open mind in terms of where you want to go. If you’re headed to Europe, be willing to explore secondary locations that still have direct flights from the US. Be willing to pay to travel from your hometown to an international gateway city (e.g. pay for the Raleigh-JFK/ATL/IAD/etc leg).

  166. [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

  167. 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!

  168. 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.

  169. 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 onlie, 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!

  170. 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.

  171. 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.

  172. 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.

  173. 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.

  174. 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.

  175. 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.

  176. Set up a Google Alert with keywords for your favorite airline’s name and something like “frequent flier miles” or “miles promotion”–go crazy and do all the combinations–it costs nothing and can help make sure you don’t miss out on an opportunity you might not have otherwise noticed.

  177. 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.

  178. Take advantage of stopover rules if your program offers it. It can allow you another destination for virtually free!

  179. Pay attention to all promotion (best way is to add all boarding area blogs to your RSS reader). Elite status is very important so start with a single program. Get to learn the game from experts. FLyertalk.com is a good place to visit daily!

  180. We use our American Express card for major purchases, and watch the newsletters and website for promotions, bonus offers, and other simple things that get us more miles without costing anything. I wouldn’t buy something I didn’t need — or buy something that was a lot more expensive — just to get miles. But I definitely take advantage of partner promos and bonus offers!

  181. 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.

  182. 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.

  183. Use the extra bonus mile shopping portals. Free miles for a small inconvenience of a partner link.

  184. 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.

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

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

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

  188. 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

  189. 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!

  190. 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.

  191. 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!

  192. 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)

  193. 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.

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

  195. 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.

  196. 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.

  197. 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.

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

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

  200. 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!

  201. Sign up to receive emails from each of the programs you use, read them as they arrive so you can incorporate the latest promotions in your travel planning, and file them in an inbox folder for easy reference. You never know when you will be sent a targeted offer that is not available to the general public.

  202. 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.

  203. 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.

  204. 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!

  205. 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!

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

  207. Have flexibility with your dates, think outside of the box on routings, and be nice to the people helping you on the reservation!

  208. 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.

  209. 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.

  210. 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.

  211. Don’t let your miles expire! Of course you can EARN some miles to keep them alive, but to avoid outlaying any cash and generate activity in a hurry, remember that in most major programs, both earning and REDEEMING miles resets the expiration counter — redeem a few miles for a magazine or donate a couple of miles.

  212. 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.

  213. 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.

  214. 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.

  215. Store the numbers from all your rewards programs so you can call ahead and find the nearest location or book travel while on the go.

  216. 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.

  217. 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.

  218. 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.

  219. Use your airline mileage credit card for everything-gas, food, medical and any utilities that allow payment with credit card

  220. 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).

  221. 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.

  222. 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.

  223. Use a credit card that awards points for money spent on it. It is an easy way to collect points each month without flying.

  224. 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.

  225. Find several (in our family, three) credit cards that are free or very low cost, and that have good points programs with elite (silver, platinum, etc) bonuses. Then split up your charges (for us, reaching $20K per year on each card does the trick to get elite status.

  226. 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.

  227. Want to feel fabulous and sit in First Class?

    Then use your points earning credit card and enjoy your upgrade!

  228. 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.

  229. 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.

  230. 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.

  231. Focus Focus Focus. Two programs, a cc that generates reward points, put your hotel points into your airline program. I never buy anything, including a house, unless I get points.

  232. 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…

  233. 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.

  234. 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!

  235. 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 yields the best value of miles.

  236. 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.)

  237. Take advantage of websites that are middle men for purchases (such as MyPoints) and web sites that issue surveys (Harris Polls), as points earned in those programs can be converted to miles or hotel points.

  238. 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?

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

  240. 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.

  241. 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.

  242. Check Flyertalk and other resources, like the Boarding area blogs, on a daily basis, to catch promos that have short lives, and mistake fares or hotel deals which get pulled quickly.

  243. I’ve never been to Australia but if I did go, I would have my credit card in my purse ready to collect more point!

  244. Use your friends and family to help you earn your miles and points! Examples: Offer to pay the dinner bill with your credit card and take their cash. If you’re sharing a hotel room, offer to pay for the room and incidentals and just have them pay you back in cash. When ordering food for your restaurant, find one that earns miles.

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

  246. 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

  247. 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.

  248. My best tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points is to save your points for flights. Especially with American Express Points and Airmiles points, the miles go way further as far as value goes. For a certain amount of points you could get some merchandise or a gift card worth maybe a few hundred dollars, or you could get a flight worth almost double. Also, NEVER use cash if you don’t have to. Put your credit card on file at the hotel and charge EVERYTHING to your room. If you have the cash on hand to pay for something, keep it in your pocket until the end of the month and use it to pay the bill without interest. Using cash is basically throwing points (or free rewards) out the window – don’t do it unless you have no other option.

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

  250. one of the best ways to spend miles is to donate flights/hotel rooms to friends and family who wouldn’t otherwise be able to make a trip.

  251. 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. Details available at Flyertalk.com

  252. 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!

  253. 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

  254. 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.

  255. 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!!!

  256. 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!)

  257. 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.

  258. 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.

  259. 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.

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

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

  262. 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.

  263. 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.

  264. My top tip for using mileage points is to plan well in advance and to fully understand the specific restrictions of the program.

  265. use retail on line purchases to keep unused airline milage accounts active. Many will cancell your account after 18 to 24 months of inactivity

  266. Be aware of opportunities to transfer miles/points from one program to another for free without devaluation.

    A good one I’ve used heavily is Amtrak Guest Rewards -> Continental OnePass. Limit of 50K per year – and even that might only be for Amtrak elite pax. Still, it’s a steal. For example, right now there’s a (possibly targeted?) 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.

  267. 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.

  268. 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!

  269. I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! And don’t forget to check with these bloggers who find special deals for us!!!

  270. 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.

  271. 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

  272. 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.

  273. concentrate earnings in one or two programs and learn the rules and tricks for earnings and redemptions

  274. Focus on a small number of loyalty programs – preferably one. That way you can maximize your point earnings and be on your way to the trip of your dreams quickly!

  275. 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.

  276. 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.

  277. 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.

  278. 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!

  279. 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).

  280. Lesson learned the hard way: Always make sure to read your airline’s upgrade policy closely before booking a flight! (For example, USAirways will upgrade you on international flights but NOT trans-atlantic. That’s a tough 8 hours in coach.)

  281. 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 to resolve a variety of issues. As my dad said “You don’t ask, you don’t get”! But ask Nice!

  282. 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. Once you have status, you’ll start earning additional bonus points and upgrades.

  283. 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.

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

  285. 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!

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

  287. 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.

  288. 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!

  289. 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.

  290. 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.

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

  292. 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.

  293. 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!

  294. I tell my husband to buy lots of stuff on our rewards card and then I use the rewards for trips!

  295. Constantly stay up to date with the Boarding Area blogs and follow your programs on Flyer Talk.

  296. 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.

  297. 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

  298. To garner miles, put every possible necessary charge on a credit card and sign up for every offer that provides increased miles, such as double for groceries or drugstore purchases. Don’t be afraid to be the person who quarterback’s the end of group dinners by putting them on your card and receiving cash from others.

  299. 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.

  300. 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.

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