10 Tips for Using Frequent Flyer Cards While Traveling

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(Editor Note: Today’s guest post comes from David, who runs a site which helps you understand and find the best frequent flyer cards – this is something we have never used or know much about, so we are more than happy to let David share his knowledge.)

Obtaining frequent flyer miles is an excellent way to save money while traveling. While many airlines offer these frequent flyer perks, they tend to make it difficult to earn a substantial number of miles or they make redeeming your miles a difficult process. This is because the airlines do not make money when they give away tickets, making them reluctant to do so.

Many airlines will even charge large booking fees to recoup the costs they lost by offering frequent flyer miles.

The following tips will help you make and spend frequent flyer miles:

1) Always pay for business trips out of your own bank account and ask for reimbursement later: This is an easy way to build up a lot of frequent flyer miles, especially if you travel on a regular basis (for leisure or business). By flying on your own account, your air miles could add up to a free flight or upgrades.

2) Check your statement for errors: Get in the habit of checking statements to ensure that you are receiving all of your miles. It is possible for the airline to make a deliberate or accidental error that will result in a statement with less points than you truly deserve.

3) Build more points using a frequent flyer credit card: It’s a good idea to take advantage of credit cards that offer frequent flyer miles if they do not charge a substantial annual fee. Large annual fees will negate any benefit you receive from using the credit card.

4) Always pay your credit card bill in full every month: Getting into the habit of paying off your balance in full each month will help you avoid paying interest on purchases.

If you frequently forget to pay on your credit card, you will not benefit from choosing a card with frequent flyer rewards.

5) Understand the rules of your card: Read and understand the rules and regulations associated with your frequent flyer miles and avoid breaking them.

Because the airlines do not want to give away free seats, you are likely to be refused your frequent flyer miles if you’ve broken any rules or regulations they set out.

6) Redeem your miles for expensive flights: If you need to fly at the peak of the season, save your points from all of your off season flights and use them for this expensive trip.

You will make more money by flying on cheap undesirable flights and saving your points for a flight that has no cheap tickets.

7) Book your ticket as far in advance as possible: You will not be able to use your frequent flyer miles at the last moment so you should aim to book your flight at least three months ahead of time, but six months to a year is more advisable.

This is because there is a very limited number of frequent flyer seats available and they fill up very quickly. If you wait to book your seat, you are likely to miss out.

8. Research the best airline for you: If you haven’t already established yourself with a particular airline, do your research.

You should look into the frequent flyer programs at a variety of airlines until you find one that works well for you based on the routes you are most likely to fly.

If you are always flying to Asia, you may be able to find a frequent flyer program that offers bonuses for flights to Asia – Singapore Airlines are worth looking into. Make sure you are getting the best deal for the flights you actually plan on taking.

9) Boost your account status ASAP: Moving up to a higher status in frequent flyer programs is usually easy and can be achieved after just a few flights.

Check with your airline’s frequent flyer program and make sure to increase your status whenever possible. Increasing your status will gain you preferential treatment, such as line skipping, promotions to better seats, and access to lounges.

10) Take advantage of frequent flyer deals: If you can double your rewards by staying at a particular hotel or renting from a particular company, be sure to do it. These bonuses and perks can result in huge increases in your frequent flyer miles.

Just be sure to only take advantage of deals that offer things you truly need. For example, don’t send flowers to get frequent flyer miles if you ordinarily wouldn’t send flowers.

– By following the tips above, you will be able to earn and redeem your frequent flyer miles in the easiest and cheapest way possible. Just remember to consider which deals will make you money and which will lose you money.

Never pay credit card fees that add up to more than the value of your frequent flyer points and never buy products or services that you don’t need or won’t use. Be realistic about your earnings and make sure to do the math before investing in frequent flyer deals.

- This post was contributed by David from FrequentFlyerCreditCards.com.au, a website dedicated to helping frequent flyers find suitable cards from airlines.

4 Responses to 10 Tips for Using Frequent Flyer Cards While Traveling

  1. GlobalButterfly August 31, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Very helpful post!

  2. Jenny Leonard August 31, 2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Great tips! I use FF miles for my expensive flights as well, but not for cheap ones. It’d be a waste.

  3. Sarah Wu September 25, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Great tips, especially the paid in full one.

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