If you travel often, you could probably benefit from a loyalty program associated with your favorite airline. Almost every commercial airline has a program, from American Airlines to Delta to United. But do you know how to get those coveted air miles? You earn them from flying, but you also earn airline miles through credit card programs. Once you have points, you have to decide how to redeem them. Here are some tips to get you started.
Know How Many Miles You Need for Travel
You generally get air miles points based on how many miles you fly. To get a free domestic ticket, you need far more miles than you can earn on a single trip. In fact, you might be surprised to learn the number of air miles required for flights. For instance, Frontier’s reward program requires you to have 20,000 miles for a domestic round trip ticket. Other airlines have different standards, but the idea is the same. You have to accumulate a lot of points before you can travel for free.
Fortunately, some credit cards offer bonus miles to help you reach your goal faster. To get an air miles card, just search for travel credit cards to find the best options. For example, Visa offers several cards for various airlines.
How to Buy an Airline Ticket with Miles
Many people focus their air miles points on getting free airline tickets. Once you accumulate enough points, you can get a qualifying ticket. To book, log in to the airline’s website and enter your rewards number. Search for flights based on how many points they cost, and then book your ticket.
In some cases, air miles flights are more limited than usual tickets. They may have blackout dates that don’t qualify for free travel. As a result, you may want to use your points in other ways instead of flying with air miles.
Using Air Miles for Airline Perks
If you don’t have enough miles to purchase an airline ticket, you can use your reward points to get other travel perks. For instance, you could upgrade your seat using air miles or gain access to special travel lounges.
You can also use airline miles for related parts of your trip, such as renting a car at the airport or booking a hotel. Purchases made with points must be completed in advance, so keep that in mind when planning your trip. Additionally, different airlines have different rules for how to redeem points, so do some research to maximize your benefit.
Keep an Eye Out for Once-in-a-Lifetime Experiences
Sometimes airline or reward programs offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can be purchased with points. For instance, you might be able to take tennis lessons from a star, attend a sold-out concert with VIP perks, and more. You may also be able to bid on experiences like these, and because not many people are aware of them, the auctions offer a chance to win adventures for fewer points. Programs like Starwood, Delta, American and Hilton all have auctions that let you bid on events.
Use Miles for Merchandise
Using miles points for merchandise usually results in the lowest cash value for your points. However, if you don’t have very many points or they’re about to expire, it’s a good idea to choose redemption. Around the December holidays, many reward programs run sales where you can pick items up for 10% to 40% off the normal price.
You can use the merchandise yourself, give it to someone as a holiday gift or give it away to your employees to raise morale in the workplace. Be creative!