Frequency-based rewards for air miles are fantastic. They enable you to fly for a lot of money. Use frequent flyer miles wisely, and you’ll save a ton of money when you travel. But frequent flyer miles can be challenging to use. They seem more complicated than they are worth. There are plenty more clever ways to collect frequent flyer miles, and most people can happily collect and spend miles with minimal effort. Let’s unpack airline miles and learn how to pay them.
What is Airline Miles?
Airlines offer miles as part of their loyalty programs (also called airline miles programs) and as part of their credit card rewards programs. Depending on what you spend on a ticket or a credit card, you’ll get a certain number of miles based on how much you spend on that ticket or that credit card. You can use those miles to buy more tickets or upgrade your existing key. You then use the airline miles you get to buy more tickets.
It seems simple, but how airlines earn miles is more complex. First, rewards for air miles don’t equal the number of miles you fly; it just means that you have specific tickets that you can use in the future to fly to different destinations. Airline points are like any other type of rewards program: You earn points by buying things, and as a result, you get gifts.
Differences between Credit Card Rewards and Airline Rewards
You can earn miles by flying with a specific airline or using a credit card that offers reward miles. Some rewards credit card companies allow you to fly with any airline, but others only allow you to fly with certain airlines. Both credit cards and airline loyalty programs give you miles to spend on airline flights. In the airline world, you can earn airline miles by flying with certain airlines and purchasing airline tickets. With some credit cards, you can earn airline miles by buying airline tickets with that card.
Every major airline operates a program that allows members to earn airline miles by flying on that airline or with its partners. They are usually free; you can earn miles by flying with the airlines or their partners. When a new airline offers a frequent flyer program, you’ll get a unique account number that you can use to pay for flights. Eventually, you can redeem these miles for a free flight on that airline or with one of their partners. Most credit cards that offer airline miles reward you with miles to spend when you fly, and those miles will stay good as long as you use them to buy air tickets.
Credit cards that offer airline miles are more complicated than airline miles. You earn points when you spend money on credit cards. You can earn credit card rewards points by making purchases on your credit card, and when you finish making those purchases, you can redeem those points for free rewards for air miles. But they may be less than airline miles. It all varies depending on which credit card you use. As with most rewards credit cards, you’ll have to pay an extra yearly fee to keep getting points. Since you likely spend more money on credit cards than airline tickets, it’s easier to earn points using a credit card than just a reward card.
Understanding the Process of Redeeming Airline Miles
Now that you have your travel credit card and airline loyalty accounts, you can redeem those points and get a seat on the flight. You’ve already booked a couple of flights, and you’ve also paid with your travel credit card. Now you have enough points to purchase a plane ticket.
You’ll start by going to the website of the airline with which you have a rewards account. You can search for flights on that airline’s website and redeem your points for a round-trip ticket. You can check airline sites to see which airlines accept frequent flyer rewards. Then look for flights that allow you to redeem points or miles for a cheaper fare than converting to dollars.
If your points are enough to cover all your expenses for your entire trip, you will only need to pay the security fee on a round-trip flight. You’ll have to book your flights if there aren’t enough points to redeem for your journey.
You’ll need to plan if your credit card allows you to redeem points on certain airlines. Either that or you can book a flight using the card’s online booking portal.
Choosing the Ideal Travel Credit Card for Your Needs
People should always fly with the airlines that let them earn points on travel. You could earn thousands of miles by passing a lot, but using a travel credit card that rewards you with points for making purchases would be more rewarding. Finding the right card for every trip you want can be challenging since many different reward cards exist.
Most frequent flyer cards reward you for flying with airlines that have hubs in major cities that you frequent. But a credit card that allows you to book airline tickets or hotel rooms with several different partners can help you earn more points.
These credit cards give you the most points when you first apply for them, so you can quickly earn a lot of miles when you spend a specific amount of money on your credit card as soon as you open an account. It might be hard to earn enough points to buy flights or hotel rooms to make a significant signup bonus. If you do this, you could start to accumulate debt.
If there are many credit card options, try to get credit cards that offer points for paying your bills each month. Sometimes credit card companies provide more rewards if you spend money on certain purchases. You can get double or even more points for dining out with many credit cards. If your frequent trip to restaurants means your issues will be worth more than with some of the more popular credit cards.
Travel rewards credit cards give you fewer bonus miles or points for making online bookings than airline programs. You need to book your flights directly with the airlines to qualify for any airline miles or issues that the card might provide. If you need to fly more often to earn miles or points with your card, some travel rewards credit cards will reward you for specific things you do.
Maximize the value of your Miles and Rewards
It is just the beginning. There are multiple more things that you can do to maximize your miles. You should think about how you earn points if you put in the effort and think carefully about it. It’s optional for many people, but some strategies will help you get the most mileage out of your miles.
- Do Not Keep Saving Your Thousands of Miles and Rewarded Points for Too Long.
- Maximize Your Free Flights by Earning and Redeeming Airline Rewards.
- Some Credit Cards Give You Free Access to Affluent Hotels and Lounges.
- Strategies for Maximizing Credit Card Rewards through “Credit Surfing.”
Like many other things involving spending money, you can get a lot of bonus value from earning airline miles. You can save a little money each year by making airline miles. It’s easy to keep up with the points you earn.
Whenever you can, use air miles to save on travel costs. They are a great way to stretch your dollar. But don’t let the airline industry dictate how you spend your money or when you travel. Be smart about collecting and using frequent flyer miles, and you’ll reap the rewards of free or discounted travel without any hassle. With a little effort, anyone can learn how to take advantage of airline loyalty programs and fly for less.