How to Get the Most Out of Airline Loyalty Programmes

torch lighting ceremony at the st regis in bali Cashing in your miles on airline loyalty programmes can at times prove a bit daunting, as Michael Taylor has  just found out.

When all is said and done, however, persistence does pay off. It took some doing. But in the end, he scored a round trip ticket to Bali. And he still has miles to spare. If he plays his cards right, his next trip to Europe will be on business class!

Five Ways to Get More for Your Miles

There are a few things about loyalty programmes that many frequent flyers don’t understand. Here are a few tips that I’ve picked up over the years. Please let me know if you have any other tips of your own. I’d like to pass them on! 

Only the Passenger Can Get the Miles

I used to think that if someone else paid for my ticket – my employer, for example – the miles could only go to him. But with most airline loyalty programmes they can’t. So don’t be shy about asking if you can collect the miles when you check in – even if someone else paid for your ticket.

Get a Credit Card Linked to a Loyalty Programme

It amazes me how few people understand the advantages of having a credit card that is linked to an airline loyalty programme. I used to charge practically nothing on my credit card. Now I charge practically everything on my credit card.

Between my regular trips to the supermarket, eating out, and the occasional trips that I take, the miles really do add up fast. For most programmes, it works out to HK$8 or US$1 for each mile flown. And sometimes you get double miles for charges made away from home.

Double Your Miles, Double Your Fun

If you purchase your ticket using a credit card linked to a loyalty programme, you not only get credit for the miles you fly, you also get credit for the price of the ticket. Talk about a double whammy!

Get More Than One Card

I have two credit cards, one linked to the Marco Polo Club/Asia Miles, the other to United Airlines/Star Alliance. It is better to join the programmes of alliances than individual carriers as this gives you more flexibility both in terms of collecting and cashing in your miles.

If you have to fly a carrier whose programme you are not already a member of, make sure to join the programme before you depart. Usually – but not always – you can do this at the airport. So play it safe and join on line.

How to Get the Most Bang for Your Miles

Very often, the price of tickets for long range flights is cheaper on a per mile basis than the price of tickets for destinations closer to home. So it sometimes makes sense to pay for long range flights and cash your miles in on short range flights.

Because the price differential between economy class tickets and business class tickets is so great, some travel experts advise using your miles for upgrades to business class rather than for tickets. In both cases, do the math, and see which strategy offers the better deal.

This Concludes a Series

Copyright: Michael Taylor


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