Posted by Ric Garrido

American Express and BoardingArea.com have come up with a sweepstakes contest for a nearly all expense paid trip for two to Gold Coast, Australia.

BoardingArea.com Gold Coast Sweepstakes Information Page link.

Entry Period: The entry period for the contest is from 12:00:01am Mountain time zone Monday, March 22, 2010 through 11:59:59pm Mountain time zone Sunday, March 28, 2010.

Eligibility: Contest is only open to U.S. residents of the 50 states and District of Columbia who are 18 years old at time of entry. And if you are related to me I think the rules indicate you can’t win the prize. Sorry Mom & Dad.

To Enter Sweepstakes you need to answer this question:

“What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?”

You can only have one entry comment on Loyalty Traveler blog, however, you can enter once on each of the 20 BoardingArea blogs participating in this sweepstakes.

The Prize: Seven nights/eight days hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, activities, and roundtrip airfare for two people to Gold Coast, Australia. Retail Value $10,250. The trip must be taken by March 31, 2011 or prize is forfeited. And very important information – the winner will be notified within two days of the end of the contest and you must respond within five business days to confirm prize acceptance. So check your email carefully next week.

Click here –  http://boardingarea.com/goldcoast/rules.php to see all the Terms & Conditions.

Loyalty Traveler sweepstakes analysis

As a blogger who analyzes promotions regularly, I find it amusing that this sweepstakes has a retail value listed at $10,250, yet there is no mention of the specific hotel or airline, and what kind of transportation, meals, or activities are provided. The sweepstakes rules state ground transportation is the responsibility of the winner?

I guess American Express does not want to divert your attention from the primary purpose of the sweepstakes which is to promote their credit card.

The good news from Randy Petersen, founder of BoardingArea.com, is the prize winner will receive additional gift cards from American Express and BoardingArea.com that should cover most or all of the taxes that you will owe from a prize valued this highly.

And another good point is that while the airline and hotel for the trip are not revealed, Randy says the flight and hotel will allow the winner to earn miles and points.

Would you expect anything less from a frequent travel guru?

Loyalty Traveler take on American Express Membership Rewards

Here is my Loyalty Traveler take on American Express Membership Rewards points. They are a versatile currency for exchanging into a variety of hotel points or airline miles. Many of the airline partners overlap with the Starwood Preferred Guest program airline partners, but some airlines are unique to American Express Membership Rewards. Even better is the ability to exchange points into hotel currencies other than SPG which is something you can’t do with the SPG American Express card.

Membership Rewards points can be exchanged into Hilton HHonors points, Best Western Rewards points, Priority Club Rewards points, and Starwood Preferred Guest points. In addition to exchanges, Membership Rewards points can be used for certificates and vouchers with Fairmont Hotels, Hyatt, Jumeirah Hotels, Loews, LXR Resorts, Marriott, Morgans Hotel Group, Omni Hotels, Preferred Hotels Group, Radisson, and several hotels in Las Vegas.

Loyalty Traveler take on Gold Coast, Australia

If you are not familiar with Gold Coast, Australia, think Miami Beach. This is the part of Australia that is warm (not hot) in the winter months of June, July, and August. I traveled from Melbourne to Sydney to Brisbane during the month of July and I needed a full array of clothing to combat the icy winds of Melbourne to just the bare necessities for the beaches of Queensland.

Beer is expensive, seafood is cheap, and surfing is prevalent. And my impression of Australia is that the country is the most easy-going international destination for Americans who may have a fear of international destinations.

So think up a good tip to post on this blog and the other BoardingArea.com blogs. My understanding of the rules is each blogger picks one tip and the random drawing will occur from the 20 chosen tips by each participating blogger. (Disclosure: the BoardingArea.com blogger who has the winning tip receives an i-Pad in April. Fingers crossed.)

Sign up for RSS feeds of all the blogs so you can receive updates straight to your computer. If you have never used RSS feeds, they are wonderful because you get the news updates straight to your computer rather than having to remember to visit different websites and blogs every day. Some of the news items reported on BoardingArea.com are time limited and high value information that you don’t want to miss.

The Gold Coast Sweepstakes web page provides RSS feed registration links next to each of the participating bloggers. http://boardingarea.com/goldcoast/

Check us out on Twitter.com. BoardingArea.com on Twitter posts all the individual title posts from the Boarding Area bloggers within minutes of publishing.

Go ahead and leave your tip here in the comments section of this post.

“What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?”

G’day mate and good luck.

Noosa Beach, Queensland, Australia

435 Responses

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

  2. Get cheap or free miles by following suggestions found on boardingarea.com blogs like Loyalty Traveler.

  3. 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.

  4. Follow the boarding area blogs and Flyertalk to find the best deals

  5. Fly one airline or one alliance, and make sure your points get credited!

  6. 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.

  7. Churn credit cards!

  8. My tip is to always be aware of when your loyalty points expire. Some issuers don’t have points that expire, but some do, and it’s not pretty when you save up miles for years only to lose them because you didn’t realize they could expire!

  9. Read the email notices from AMEX. I’ve been albe to get double and triple miles on everyday purchases by simply signing up online.

    Comment by Annette MontBlanc on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:34 am
  10. 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

    Comment by Cecilia Rose on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:53 am
  11. Plan ahead of time and grab the deal before figuring out what it is! Stay tuned and be loyal.

  12. Life is short, use those miles!

    Comment by AirShadow on March 22nd, 2010 at 11:56 am
  13. You cannot get what you do not ask for…

  14. Use miles/points for family members who don’t need/want status, and pay for your own travel to get/maintain status.

  15. Save your loyalty points for international travel – using them on domestic itineraries will burn your points for relatively little value.

  16. You’ve got to be a planner. Plan well ahead in order to snag the best awards.

  17. Don’t just credit flight miles to your FF program, but also take advantage of partner offers where they make sense – credit cards, dining, etc. This can go a long way to earning those rewards, particularly for infrequent fliers. Through credit card use and partner offers, I earned enough miles to fly myself and my wife to Hawaii for our one year anniversary. Although I’m now mid-tier (Premier Exec) on United, I was a 3-4 times a year flier at the time.

    Comment by gobluetwo on March 22nd, 2010 at 12:14 pm
  18. All suitcases look alike. Don’t lose yours at the baggage carosel. 1)Never buy a black suitcase. 2) Tie a pink or orange ribbon around the handle.

  19. Don’t forget the additional bonus ways to get miles and points. Never know when you might be justthismuchshort.

  20. 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.

  21. To use your loyalty points when you want to use them, plan ahead. Way ahead.

  22. 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.

  23. Two tips! 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?

  24. 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 published on this site and others like it – information is your friend.

  25. 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)

    Comment by VEGASDEALMAN on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:09 pm
  26. 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’.

    Comment by Jonathan on March 22nd, 2010 at 1:10 pm
  27. 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.

  28. 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!

  29. 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).

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

  31. Set award goals to help prioritize earning and redemption programs.

  32. Have a goal in mind for those miles; it keeps you motivated to accrue and stay on top of it.

  33. If you earn hotel points, spend them on that hotel. Same for airlines. Never spend on a partner award.

  34. 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.

  35. 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)!

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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

  40. 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.

  41. in the beginning, stick with one airline and one alliance so one can achieve status faster.

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

  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. If you spend money, why would you not put it on an airline affinity charge card? Easy miles and often the benefits outweigh the annual fee!

  45. Be consistent and focused. One or two but no more than three airline programs. My favorite is AA. For hotel pogram, I focused on IHG and *Wood.

  46. Look for ways to accumulate bonus points

  47. 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.

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

  49. 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)

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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.

  53. Get Gary to book your award ticket

    Comment by Jonathan on March 22nd, 2010 at 4:45 pm
  54. Focus spend on SPG credit card

  55. To earn miles/points, concentrate on one main airline/hotel and try to maximize point/mile earning by registering for promotions. To use the points/miles, plan ahead, be flexible, maximize redemption promotions (pointsavers, etc), and check cash/point combinations.

  56. Since Loyalty Traveler is hotel-oriented an SPG tip: Know the floorplates of your hotels if you want a Suite upgrade! In San Diego, for example, 1 of 5 rooms at the US Grant are Suites, while maybe 1 of 20 at the W are Suites… Guess where you will have better luck getting a free Suite?

  57. Points = Money

    Earn’em, Track’em, most importantly Spend’em!

  58. If you fly with several airlines, maintain loyalty with only one carrier per alliance. Consolidate those miles so awards come faster and easier.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

    Comment by EagleClass on March 22nd, 2010 at 5:07 pm
  61. Use them! Life is short!

  62. many good tips have been said, and I agree with many of them, so I just want to reinterate about using your ff credit card to always earn points to get your closer to your destination

  63. For non business travelers and retirees, keep all of this FF award talk in perspective. Relax, you don’t need to MAXIMIZE your miles, just get a few awards to help you enjoy your vacation/travel.

  64. Always remember that there are many ways to earn miles besides traveling. I link my corporate Amex to Rewards Network and have racked up over 70,000 Delta Skymiles in a year from business meals and banquets alone (and thats on top of the Amex Membership Rewards points).
    Every wedding gift and article of clothing I buy from online retailers earns me points, in addition to the credit card points. When you have a multi-tiered strategy, points add up quickly!

    Comment by Points Crazy on March 22nd, 2010 at 5:32 pm
  65. 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!

  66. 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.

  67. 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

  68. Join Flyertalk.com

  69. 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).

  70. Follow the flyertalk.com Mileage Run Deals forum all the time, even if you’re not a classic mileage runner you can find great fares for a weekend (or longer) getaway that are practically profitable given the miles earned.

  71. 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.

  72. Don’t let your points expire.

    Comment by alliance on March 22nd, 2010 at 7:00 pm
  73. When deciding on your main FF airline, do consider that they have different elite qualifications. For new collectors it seems the points are most important, but once you start you realize it’s getting elite status that is great for frequent flyers.

  74. 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!

  75. 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.

    Comment by Ripper3785 on March 22nd, 2010 at 7:20 pm
  76. Use miles for redeeming premium class air ticket. Economy is just a waste of miles

  77. 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

  78. Have all your miles tracked with one website so that you can see them in a nice, concise format.

    Find which partner sites on alliances are the best for rewards travel booking – often a flight may not show up on one site, but on another partner’s site.

  79. Don’t use your miles for domestic trips, save up for a big international trip in First or Business class and your miles will be worth much more.

  80. 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.

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

    Comment by George Pap. on March 22nd, 2010 at 8:55 pm
  82. I follow what the experienced Frequent flyers do…read alot, and try to minimize the cost per mile and keep looking for the best way to the places you want to go!

  83. Get a mileage earning credit card, buy everything you ordinarily would buy with the card, and pay off the bill at the end of the month so you’re not paying interest just to accumulate miles.

  84. Read FlyerTalk every day.

    Comment by Peter Kavaler on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:19 pm
  85. 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!

    Comment by George Holub on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:39 pm
  86. 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!

  87. 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.

    Comment by James Bernie on March 22nd, 2010 at 9:48 pm
  88. 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! :)

  89. Read boarding area blogs and flyertalk for tips to earn miles. :)

  90. 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.

    Comment by FT:pshuang on March 22nd, 2010 at 10:13 pm
  91. Stick with a primary airline miles earning credit card and hotel points earnings card. Pay it off each month and watch your points grow. Use for everything — those small purchases add up!

    Comment by Harlan Ratzky on March 22nd, 2010 at 10:23 pm
  92. 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

  93. Collect Priority Club points and then burn them for a nice vacation somewhere at the Pointsbreak rate of 5,000 points a night–a bargain!

  94. Pick your primary plans carefully and don’t forget the expiration policies.

  95. 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!

  96. Fly, earn & churn domestically and redeem globally. Read and keep up with loyalty developments and promos on Boarding Area blogs to maximize earning potential

  97. Use a SPG card!

  98. Pick an airline that has good redemptions, not bad ones (*cough* looking at you UA and DL… *cough*).

  99. flexibility

  100. 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.

    Comment by DavidWesley on March 23rd, 2010 at 1:27 am
  101. If you use various airlines, Starwood AMEX is the best CC out there for earning points. Also, if you don’t travel much, seriously think about Schwab Visa at no fee and 2% cashback, and just pay for discount coach on those occasional trips.

  102. Burn as you earn…

  103. Redeem your 500-miles United upgrade certs before it’s too late. Oh no, it’s already too late…

  104. use a mile-earning credit card for everything you buy!

  105. Use your Delta AMEX earn lots of miles!

    Comment by deltaPMflyer on March 23rd, 2010 at 5:33 am
  106. 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.

  107. Consider what you want in a hotel chain. Hilton gives free breakfast to Golds, which is fairly easy to attain. That’s important to some people.

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

  109. “SPG Flights”, a new-ish redemption option for Starwood points usually isn’t a good deal, but I’ve found that their lowest tier award: 10k points for a trip up to $150 can be a nice way to redeem a ’short hop award’ for little cost in points. It certainly beats the 25k miles most of the airlines would charge for a similar short hop redemption.

  110. 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:)

  111. 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.

  112. 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.

    Comment by snoozzzzz on March 23rd, 2010 at 7:14 am
  113. 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.

  114. 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.

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

  116. 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.

  117. Sometimes all that is required to earn miles is a single purchase (e.g., 750 miles from deluxe.com through e-miles). While the cheapest items on the website may be hard do find, our friend Google will allow you to search on a single domain. 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!

    Comment by Andyandy on March 23rd, 2010 at 7:38 am
  118. 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.

  119. 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.

    Comment by elizabeth on March 23rd, 2010 at 7:56 am
  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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.

    Comment by Stephanie on March 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 am
  123. 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!).

  124. 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.

  125. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

    I would recommend utilizing a point tracker service like tripit.com! It’s great with tracking itineraries too!

  126. 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.)

  127. 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

  128. 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!

    Comment by Tanya Craig on March 23rd, 2010 at 8:19 am
  129. *** 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.

  130. 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.

  131. Expert Flyer is an invaluable tool for scoring upgrades!

  132. 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

  133. I use Yodlee MoneyCenter to keep track of my miles. It’s free.

  134. When the CSR says no, don’t give up!

  135. 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.

  136. 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!

    Comment by Summer Cook on March 23rd, 2010 at 9:29 am
  137. Take advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses for new card applications.

  138. 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!

  139. Frequent flyertalk and boardingarea.com to learn about offers and great deals!

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

    Comment by Jess Gibson on March 23rd, 2010 at 9:39 am
  141. 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.

    Comment by Amazing Larry on March 23rd, 2010 at 9:43 am
  142. 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.

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

    Comment by Iolaire McFadden on March 23rd, 2010 at 10:01 am
  144. Pay attention to status requirements and try to hit them, because they will multiply your points earning. For example, being Starwood Platinum gets you 500 extra point per stay (plus all the other perks), but you have to meet the 25 stay number. On a 2 day business trip, stay at 2 different properties for 1 extra stay towards Platinum and 500 extra points.

  145. Be loyal to one brand, and pay attention to those offers for double points, bonuses, etc.

    Comment by Brett Hooyerink on March 23rd, 2010 at 10:15 am
  146. to maximize earning, put everything you buy on a mileage earning credit card, no matter how small the expense. To use miles, be as flexible as possible. I usually call and ask the agent to find seats at a specific airport, and anything within 100 miles and within 2 or 3 days. I’ve always found seats, even to Italy in the summer on Delta.

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

  148. 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.

  149. Use price comparison sites like Kayak or Priceline to determine going rates and current deals, but ALWAYS book through the company’s own site. Otherwise, you may miss out on special promotions, bonus earnings, or perhaps getting any points/miles at all. Ouch.

  150. 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.

  151. Consolidate your miles

  152. Don’t use your points on low cost/distance trips! Save them for the expensive ones!

    Comment by Jason Demby on March 23rd, 2010 at 11:38 am
  153. 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.

  154. 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!

  155. 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…

  156. Value your points according to what you would have spent, not what the retail price is.

  157. 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

  158. 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.

  159. Set a points goal for that special tripand stick to it.

    Comment by Wayne Lewis on March 23rd, 2010 at 1:55 pm
  160. Get a mileage earning credit card and USE IT — for *everything*.

  161. 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.

  162. Keep signing-up for bonus points/miles; participate in bonus points/miles activities through partners like AMEX/shopping/dining, etc.; dont let the points expire by periodic shopping/dining activities; And you will build/bank lot of points/miles for using these points/miles for personal and family travel.

  163. 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.

  164. 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.

  165. 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.

  166. The single biggest thing I tell people to maximize their earning is to stick with one Airline, one hotel and one car program. Often you can find a program that is complementary with another to maximize earning. As for redeeming my experience is that airlines are the most difficult and require the most work and planning.

    Also don’t forget affinity cards like the Starwood Amex.

  167. 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.

    Comment by Biggles209 on March 23rd, 2010 at 3:46 pm
  168. Consolidate!

    Comment by hbs2011i on March 23rd, 2010 at 4:12 pm
  169. Only use miles for international tickets. See the world! Nobody will be jealous of your free ticket to the midwest. But when you save those miles for a trip to the far east, they sure will be!

  170. 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!

    Comment by bmvaughn on March 23rd, 2010 at 4:53 pm
  171. 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.

  172. 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.

  173. Churn credit cards and bank sign up bonuses

  174. 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.

  175. Decide on an airline/alliance, get the miles/points credit cards + PLAN AHEAD!!!!!!

  176. 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.

  177. 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.

  178. Remember to reward yourself by selecting awards that will take you on a new and fun experience. Keeping a goal in mind makes travel much more enjoyable.

  179. 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.

  180. (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.

    Comment by Richard B on March 23rd, 2010 at 6:56 pm
  181. 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- 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.

  182. Never pay cash. Earn points on everything you purchase. And expense everything for work that you can.

  183. Network with frequent fliers.

    Comment by Julie Vessigault on March 23rd, 2010 at 8:07 pm
  184. 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.

  185. Make sure you look into stopovers and open jaws when booking award tickets.

  186. 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!

    Comment by Jean Wilson on March 23rd, 2010 at 8:49 pm
  187. Bonus offers from airline partners, like hotels. Some offer double miles for multi-night stays, etc.

  188. Focus on a single loyalty program to build rewards faster.

    Comment by Katherine Gray on March 23rd, 2010 at 9:07 pm
  189. Register for every promo and read this blog.

  190. 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.

  191. Get a mile-earning credit card and use it for everything

  192. Make sure your miles aren’t expiring.. redeem for a magazine or use the iDine service

    Comment by Andrew C. on March 24th, 2010 at 2:19 am
  193. 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

  194. Read flyertalk blog and register for every promo and apply for mileage credit card.

  195. 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.

  196. 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.

  197. 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.

  198. 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!

  199. 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 and earn 3X points when you shop through the Bonus Points Mall® website.

  200. Use them or lose them.

    Comment by Bob Healy on March 24th, 2010 at 9:15 am
  201. 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!

    Comment by Alex Peters on March 24th, 2010 at 9:30 am
  202. 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!!

    Comment by Michelle Adkins on March 24th, 2010 at 9:37 am
  203. 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!

  204. 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.

  205. Follow the tips from the experts. I got wonderful deals and benefits from following the tips offered by Rick in the loyaltytravel forum. Many thanks.

  206. 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.

    Comment by michael k on March 24th, 2010 at 11:46 am
  207. When looking to book, use a dollop of ITA, gobs of patience, plenty of flexibility and a good dose of bull headedness.

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

    Comment by monkey3367 on March 24th, 2010 at 12:00 pm
  209. 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.

  210. Read BoardingArea blogs!

    Comment by yosithezet on March 24th, 2010 at 12:25 pm
  211. 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.

    Comment by Criddy123 on March 24th, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  212. Stay loyal to one airline alliance or hotel brand. That’s the quickest and easiest way to accumulate points/miles and reap the benefits.

  213. For *A award travel, sign up with the ANA Mileage Club. With membership the ANA site wllows you to see international award availablity acroos the *A network.

  214. stay twice at the least exspensive Hyatt Place you can find usually on the weekend then reserve a FFN at the most exspensive Park Hyatt/Hyatt you can find! They have awesome promos!

    Comment by michael foy on March 24th, 2010 at 1:24 pm
  215. 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!

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

    Comment by chitownflyer on March 24th, 2010 at 1:49 pm
  217. Do an AA Gold or Plat Challenge to start in the elite status game and start earning miles at an accelerated rate.

  218. 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.

    Comment by Jonas Eberle on March 24th, 2010 at 2:24 pm
  219. I like Star Alliances bcos of the number of airline partners they hv. So I try my best to credit my frequent flyer miles to one FF account.

  220. Look for cards such as United, Amex or Marriott who give you bonus at times. Also check the websites of the reward programs to see what stores etc you can earn points by shopping at and then when you go to shop there make sure to use their “bonus mall” to earn miles etc! The add up quick!!

    Comment by Suzanne Sharp on March 24th, 2010 at 3:43 pm
  221. Get a mileage credit card.

  222. Check Flyertalk.com every day.

  223. Keep up to date on all the changes and offers that pertain to the program you use most, and try to direct all your earning opportunities to one airline/hotel to get the most ‘bang’ for your points

  224. Use airline & hotel shopping portals for online purchases.

  225. 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.

  226. Use mile credit cards to pay bills to increase miles

  227. Collect miles as cheaply as possible in one program and redeem on partner travel.

  228. Just as the previous blogger says, stay with one program! Be sure to do your research and decide which airline or alliance network is best for your travel style. Additionally, finding a credit card with the main airline of this alliance increases your base of points and sometimes your status. Watch that all the tickets you purchase are eligible for points, sometimes with discounters you do not get the points!!

  229. Don’t wait too long to use your points! With the airlines these days, your points could be worthless the next year.

    Comment by tootalltofly on March 24th, 2010 at 7:32 pm
  230. Stick to one airline and aim for elite status!

    Comment by Alexander on March 24th, 2010 at 7:48 pm
  231. Collect miles and points only for airlines and hotels that you really like and that are readily available for use.

  232. SPG AMEX

  233. Maximize the $ per mile of your redemptions. A business class ticket may burn more miles, but it also is a much better value against the miles that you are burning.

  234. 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.

  235. What is you want from a programme – upgrades, free nights, free internet/breakfast. The answer to that question shows that ‘value’ comes to each of us based on our requirements. Check out the major programmes and see which gives you what you want, and oh, cash in often – it makes it more fun!

  236. 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.

  237. 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.

  238. 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.

    Comment by Chris Metzgar on March 24th, 2010 at 11:34 pm
  239. 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.

    Comment by mechteach on March 25th, 2010 at 1:10 am
  240. 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.

  241. Just read the flyertalk forums and the boardingarea blogs!

  242. Initially focus on one or 2 programs to learn all the tips and tricks as well as building up miles or points.

  243. Set up your bills to be paid automatically using your American Express Card.

  244. Travel as much as possible on a single airline alliance and credit those miles to FF account of one airline w/in that group. As much as possible do the same with hotel families.

  245. 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.

    Comment by Susannah on March 25th, 2010 at 7:50 am
  246. 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).

  247. #1 tip — put the whole family to work earning points by linking all the debit and credit cards to a single airline rewards program. My husband and I, along with three college-age kids, have 11 cards (five bank debit, five bank credit cards, plus one dedicated airline credit card) all sending points to the same frequent flier accounts. This really makes the point value add up — college kids use their debit cards for EVERYTHING. They understand that the price they pay for having us provide their allowances is allowing us to continue to collect the miles. (And they usually — but not always — wind up going with us on award travel anyway.)
    #2: Really read this blog, and others that focus on loyalty travel. There are TONS of tips out there. We get points for everything from paying our electric bill to watching Netflix movies on the TV to using our cell phones, all from “partner” or “bonus” programs we read about here.

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

  249. Keep your credit rating good so that you can apply for miles and pts earning credit cards. Either apply for many on the same Monday or parcel out your applications over time (which is what I do). Keep on top of paying off the credit card bills in full each month to prevent having to pay fees and interest. On a one time basis…not paying on time can be sometimes gotten a pass by calling and asking for the fees and or interest to be waived. Don’t make a habit of it.

    Comment by Terry Erickson on March 25th, 2010 at 9:44 am
  250. Don’t let your miles expire. Check your balance and redeem for something small such as a mag subscription to prevent expiration.

  251. If your a tad off from the next status, a MR (mileage run) can help you to the next level

    Comment by jason8612 on March 25th, 2010 at 10:25 am
  252. Here’s one for you. Tax time is drawing near pay your taxes with an airline linked credit card. here is another for you (2 for the price of 1). there are certain food chains vonns, pathmark… that you can link your ff account to there card so everytime you grocery shop you get ff miles). we all must eat and if u think about it you probably spend at least $10K a year at the grocery store.

    Comment by annie free on March 25th, 2010 at 10:51 am
  253. 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!

    Comment by Elin Pierce on March 25th, 2010 at 11:06 am
  254. 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.

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

  256. [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

  257. 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.

    Comment by Debbie K on March 25th, 2010 at 2:23 pm
  258. Read BoardingArea blogs!

  259. Dont spend your miles on upgrades, use them for free flights. You will get more bang for your buck.

  260. 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!

  261. 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.

  262. 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.

  263. My top tip for using airline points is to be ready to plan several months in advance, be flexible and pick a few dates and surrounding airports to chose to fly into, and if you’re unable to find a flight by yourself online, 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! You may want to check back a few times if you aren’t able to get it on the first try, as sometimes ther is an extra special agent that will go out of their way to help you a litte more. Be nice!

  264. 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.

    Comment by shoegarqueen on March 25th, 2010 at 5:14 pm
  265. Be very flexible. Be willing to travel to another airport on your own dime to get an international flight to your desired destination.

  266. 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.

  267. Details, details, check the details in the program contract!

  268. 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.

  269. Jumpstart your miles by getting status. AA offers a Platinum challenge. Once you get status, many other airlines are willing to match. After you have status, you earn twice as many miles for every trip.

  270. Read the various blogs and follow their tips. I’ve added thousands of miles this way.

  271. Like George Clooney says, wear slip on shoes like the “businessmen”

  272. 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.

    Comment by Deena Quilty on March 25th, 2010 at 8:53 pm
  273. 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.

  274. My best advice when searching for flights using miles, 3 step approach
    1. Always start 330 days before travel date or at least 3 months in advance. The longer one waits the less chance of getting a seat.
    2. Always check on website and then calling the airline rep. Try multiple airline reps. One may offer a better route than the other.
    3. Book as soon as you get a good flight and connection – what’s available now may not be available 2 hours from now.

    Comment by Sameer Bhasin on March 25th, 2010 at 9:20 pm
  275. Take advantage of stopover rules if your program offers it. It can allow you another destination for virtually free!

    Comment by Victor Y on March 25th, 2010 at 9:27 pm
  276. Best bang for air redemption: Coach seats from continental U.S to Alaska (25K) or Central America (35K). Also, intra-Asia (especially to/from NRT, as low as 20K r/t on DL). Fares are typically high to/from these places, making “low” or “saver” redemptions great deals.

  277. 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.

  278. Always take good rest while traveling. Good health is the key for accumulating points in the long run.

  279. 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.

  280. 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.

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

  282. Plan ahead to make the most of your free flights and hotel points

    Comment by Sue Hall on March 26th, 2010 at 6:35 am
  283. When using your points in any program remember that the same good manners that get you ahead when you pay for travel are also important when you are redeeming points, about the only power gate agents and telephone agents have is to give you that little extra or live up to the letter of the agreement while you get the worst seat on the plane

    Comment by Michael Ford on March 26th, 2010 at 6:37 am
  284. Use the credit card partner for your airline of choice and any related utility offers. Miles collect extremely quickly this way.

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

  286. 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!

    Comment by Shellie Anne on March 26th, 2010 at 7:46 am
  287. 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.

  288. 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!

  289. 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)

  290. 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.

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

    Comment by Janna Steele on March 26th, 2010 at 8:43 am
  292. To have more than one loyalty program under your belt. With the new one way award airlines pushing out, it gives you a lot more flexibility.

  293. 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.

    Comment by reallyct on March 26th, 2010 at 9:11 am
  294. Before you count on miles from partner airlines, be sure to check and see if your fare class qualifies.

    Comment by Drury Bagwell on March 26th, 2010 at 9:18 am
  295. My best tip is to use the program at partner businesses, too. Use it at hotels, when ordering flowers, etc. and accumulate the points in transactions when you aren’t traveling.

  296. 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.

  297. Read Flyertalk, daily (more often if possible).

  298. 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!

    Take advantage of promos & join flyertalk.com community to keep up with the latest.

    And most importantly—Enjoy life & the adventures!

  299. I would like to enter as well.

  300. 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.

    Comment by scott finkeldei on March 26th, 2010 at 10:23 am
  301. look into alliance partners and non-flight earning opportunities, such as miles for shopping online.

    Comment by Jonathan Khoo on March 26th, 2010 at 10:25 am
  302. If travel is flexable wait unil you find a good promotion before booking. I never travel unless I can get at least double points.

    Comment by Michelle C on March 26th, 2010 at 10:29 am
  303. Look at the terms and conditions carefully.

  304. Keep your eye on the prize. Don’t cave in and spend chunks of miles here and there. Make them count and you’ll have a guilt free and fabulous time!

  305. Loyalty DOES pay in the travel industry. Join all the programs for any airline you fly or hotel you stay, but pick your favorites and use them whenever possible. Earning elite status provides benefits on both paid and free travel and being treated like royalty is priceless!

  306. Flyertalk is the single one stop database to get more info / deals on ff programs.

  307. Read the terms and conditions! Always Always Always!!!

    shanna.elizabeth{at}Hotmail{dot}com

  308. 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.

  309. Pay attention to hotel points – they are often more valuable than airline miles.

  310. 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.

  311. if you’re points are about to expire, the airlines will usually allow you to keep them if you perform point-earning activities, such as making a purchase through their website

  312. 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!

  313. 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!

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

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

  316. 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.

    Comment by Jason in AZ on March 26th, 2010 at 2:43 pm
  317. 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.

  318. 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.

  319. Don’t let your miles expire! When the expiration date nears, you can buy a coke at a restaurant in the dining network. To avoid outlaying any cash, 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.

  320. 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.

  321. 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.

  322. 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.

  323. 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.

    Comment by karenkay on March 26th, 2010 at 7:09 pm
  324. when redeeming points, be patient, and know all your potential flights’ schedule, including your partner airlines.

    Comment by amtrakusa on March 26th, 2010 at 7:09 pm
  325. 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.

  326. 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.

  327. Pay for all purchases with a mileage earning credit card.

    Comment by Matt O'Hara on March 26th, 2010 at 8:29 pm
  328. If you know someone who is not using their points offer to buy them to have them transferred to you.

  329. 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).

  330. subscribe to flyertalk threads to stay current on promos

  331. 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.

  332. 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.

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

    Comment by Jason R. on March 27th, 2010 at 2:11 am
  334. 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.

    Comment by Michael K on March 27th, 2010 at 4:48 am
  335. 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.

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

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

    Comment by Sharon Slomovich on March 27th, 2010 at 7:39 am
  337. 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.

  338. Choose a card carrier that offers an online shopping mall ( i.e. bonuspointsmall, skymiles…). Stretch that extra buck for mileage at your convenience – allows you to continue to shop at your favorite stores, while earning double the points.

  339. Earn some points and use them wisely :)

  340. 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.”

  341. If you have “world points” or any sort of airline/hotel 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. Save. Go in Style.

  342. 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.

  343. 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.

  344. 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…

  345. 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.

    Comment by Frederic Sautet on March 27th, 2010 at 11:22 am
  346. 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!

  347. 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 :D

    Anyway, this usually yields the best value of miles.

  348. 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.)

    Comment by Gary Heller on March 27th, 2010 at 12:45 pm
  349. 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?

    Comment by Joaquim67 on March 27th, 2010 at 2:45 pm
  350. Be smart about what you use your points for. International tickets and international upgrades tend to be the best uses of points.

  351. 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.

    Comment by Samantha on March 27th, 2010 at 3:00 pm
  352. 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.

  353. Redeem your miles for premium class tickets to overseas, or Hawaii, and Alaska. These are among the best value of your miles. Always plan ahead, usually you can book your award travels 330 days in advance. Keep that information in mind whenever you are thinking a nice trip. Good luck to us all!

  354. My top tip is to maximize your rewards is by combining flight miles, credit card spend, and hotel points – meaning if you are earning miles by flying in a certain program, go ahead and sign up for that program’s credit card. Additionally, sign up for any credit card program such as American Express membership rewards or the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, in which you can earn points in the program and potentially transfer the points into miles.

  355. My top tip is to not procrastinate on cashing in on these deals. I’ve been burned numerous times because I thought “oh, I’ll take care of that next week.” Somethings, the sponsoring organization changes the end date of the promo and that makes me a very sad Flyertalker.

  356. Make sure to consolidate your flying miles, credit card miles, and partner miles (hotels and cars) in one account. You get to the really big awards (like business class to Europe) much quicker.

    Comment by Djlawman on March 27th, 2010 at 5:39 pm
  357. Use your credit card for a pack of gum, a 32oz soda, anything to get those points!

  358. If you have loads of miles and/or points, pay it forward and make someone’s day! Upgrade a friend or reltaive who’s never flown in first or business class. Book a suite for a newly-wed couple.

  359. Chose an airline and stick remain loyal. Sign up for all partners especially if you are not a frequent flyer as you miles will forever be protected from expiring.

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

  361. 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

  362. 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.

  363. 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.

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

  365. Burn them when you can. Points/miles will devalue over time.

  366. 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

  367. Concentrate on quickly gaining the highest elite status in one program, because you can parlay that into status at others through matching. Plus it makes the travel that much more comfortable

    Comment by Justin P on March 27th, 2010 at 9:02 pm
  368. 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!

  369. 1. for all of the corporate business travelers who are no longer allowed to fly business class internationally, make sure your company buys you refundable coach tickers (most will still do that!) why? because you can typically upgrade them to business for 10,000 miles with close to 2/3 the price of the refundable ticket

    2. use your hotel rewards for personal trips with a one or two night stay at a non vacation destination eg going to a graduation, a christening or a funeral. you’ll typically get a much better bang for the points than at a typical vacation destination like hawaii.

    3. you get a double whammy for focusing on a single airline–not only will you be able to take advantage of a higher elite status level but also you may get a lifetime benefit–eg american airlines will give you lifetime platinum status once you’ve accumulated 2 million miles in their program–and this is not miles flown–it’s total miles–so you’ll get there even quicker if you get the citibank aadvantage credit card, take advantage of bonus programs like double miles etc and partner programs for hotels, dining out etc!

  370. Read flyertalk, or become my friend and I will tell you everything you need to know from flyertalk, or become my friend and you will benefit on all the miles I earn because of flyertalk…. Now that I think about it, I do have a lot of friends… hhmmm

  371. 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

  372. doing necessary preparation is important and going to boardingarea.com is one of best choices.

  373. Don’t let your miles expire. For $1.29, you can extend them buy buying a song through the airlines web shopping mall’s portal to Itunes.

  374. 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.

    Comment by Demetrios on March 28th, 2010 at 1:03 am
  375. Bring a towel along just in case. It has many uses.

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

  377. 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!!!

    Comment by Lilia Lewis on March 28th, 2010 at 6:57 am
  378. 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!)

  379. 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.

  380. 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.

    Comment by Jerry Mills on March 28th, 2010 at 8:35 am
  381. 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.

  382. Here’s a couple of them:
    - Get an airline/hotel credit card and put all daily charges (from gas, grocery to big ticket charges) on that to earn the maximum number of points. Along with the promotions, specials, last minutes deals run by these cards/partners you are sure to earn a heck more points.

    - If time permits, fly in segments instead of direct routes to earn more points/miles and while edeeming, try and use flight segments which are usually easily available than direct routes

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

    Comment by Matthew Sinclair on March 28th, 2010 at 9:15 am
  384. 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.

  385. 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.

  386. be sure to make all of your on line purchases through an airlines web site shopping mall. Make all of your expenditures bring in extra miles

  387. 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.

  388. 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.

    Comment by IndyDavid on March 28th, 2010 at 10:38 am
  389. Points are in the details, understand where the bonuses are and how to get them as cheaply as possible. Don’t spread yourself to thin between too many programs because it gets too crazy

    Then to spend them, plan as early as possible and do the research on miles required, could find a steal where you least expect it. (e.g. when nwa.com was still up during transition)

    Comment by Shedbasher on March 28th, 2010 at 10:40 am
  390. 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!

    Comment by Alex Scott on March 28th, 2010 at 10:51 am
  391. I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! That way you don’t have to think about losing your miles from nonactivity.

  392. follow travel sites on Twitter for special offers and be sure to know loyalty programs partners

  393. 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.

  394. Be extremely wary of booking hotels through the travel websites such as expedia, orbitz and travelocity. Whilst they do sometimes offer lower prices than the hotels themselves the small print of hotel points programs notes that bookings through these sites won’t earn you any.

  395. 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

    Comment by Kay McLaughlin on March 28th, 2010 at 1:19 pm
  396. 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.

    Comment by alexandria789 on March 28th, 2010 at 1:47 pm
  397. Focus on your goals. Where do you want to go / what do you want to do? When you have a clear goal, it makes it easier to really zone in on the programs you need to concentrate on. Oh, get the Starwood Preferred Guest or AMEx Membership rewards card! – thats two tips – hope thats ok!

  398. 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.

  399. 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.

  400. 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.

  401. Develop a sound understanding of the programs your interested in and concentrate on those programs. As part of the analysis keep in mind the value of your time. This leads to working fewer, but better promotions.

  402. 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!

  403. 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).

  404. I am a big fan of Hilton HHonors for hotel loyalty programs. But use your points on the really really expensive hotels — you can get a $600 room for the same number of points as a $200 room. Also if you are the highest loyalty level (diamond) you can get a guaranteed spot even in a full hotel, and you pretty much get upgraded to the nicest room automatically. So pay for the cheapest room with points, and then get upgraded to an executive suite with lots of free goodies. Also you can earn points with them through their dining partners — pretty wide selection of restaurants.

    Comment by Elizabeth on March 28th, 2010 at 5:26 pm
  405. use other websites to earn points, like e-rewards

  406. 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.

  407. 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 (inc. Marriott and Delta) to resolve a variety of issues. As my dad said “You don’t ask, you don’t get”! But ask Nice!

  408. 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.

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

    Comment by Jonathan on March 28th, 2010 at 7:42 pm
  410. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines 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. :D

    Thanks!

  411. 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.

    Comment by Marcia MacDonald on March 28th, 2010 at 8:37 pm
  412. 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!

  413. 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.

  414. Stick with one program and BE FLEXIBLE!!

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

  416. know the program rules, be flexible, & stay w/ one program.

    Comment by Ilana Elfassi on March 28th, 2010 at 9:31 pm
  417. 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.

  418. Use the miles. Don’t hang onto them!

    Comment by Halothane on March 28th, 2010 at 9:43 pm
  419. 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!

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

  421. Don’t let your accumulated miles take on too much OR too little importance; use them as a tool that fits your personal circumstances. If you don’t often travel internationally, resist the urge to hoard miles for international vacations. If you need a quick, last-minute flight to visit an ailing relative or get to a job interview, use your miles! Put your miles to work for the things that matter to you.

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

  423. 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.

  424. 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

  425. Fly AA vs. United if you can do the 100K for Exec Plat (vs. 1K). 8 eVIP/SWU with AA vs. 6 eVIP/SWU on United.

    Comment by Rob Shinno on March 28th, 2010 at 10:49 pm
  426. 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.

  427. 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.

  428. Minimize the number of programs you participate in and follow each and every suggestion for maximizing points or miles. I have found this to include looking at user driven forums such as http://www.flyertalk.com. This site includes suggestions from across the globe. Following this a person can maximize points/miles without disrupting their own or company mandated policies.

  429. The entry winner for the finalist stage of the Australia giveaway is comment #287, Alison:

    “Always have a spouse/partner/friend take part in the promos and deals so you don’t have to fly First Class all alone!”

    Great tip Alison.

  430. The overall winner of the Australia trip was announced March 30 as Istvan who won through Dan Webb’s “Things in the Sky” blog entry.

  431. In addition to always flying the same airline, I use the related credit card and shop through the related online stores.

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