Frequent flyer miles can be a fantastic resource for budget-friendly travel, helping save thousands of dollars on flights and other travel expenses each year. However, navigating the increasingly complex landscape of frequent flyer programs can lead to mistakes that may hinder your ability to fully capitalize on these benefits.
10 Frequent Flyer Miles Missteps
To ensure you make the most of your miles, here are ten common mistakes to avoid, along with practical tips for correction:
1. Dismissing Miles as Too Complex or Time-Consuming
Many individuals shy away from exploring frequent flyer miles due to perceived complexities. In reality, signing up for a new frequent flyer account is a quick and straightforward process, often taking just a minute or two. Utilize apps like AwardWallet to effortlessly track and manage multiple accounts, making the entire experience more seamless and less time-consuming.
2. Loyalty to the Wrong Program
Evaluate your loyalty to a particular airline program and ensure it aligns with your travel goals. Loyalty should be reciprocated when it comes time to redeem your hard-earned miles. If a program proves too restrictive, reconsider your allegiance.
3. Neglecting Airline Alliances
Explore the flexibility provided by airline alliances. Having miles in one program doesn’t restrict you to flying with that specific airline. Leverage alliances for diverse earning and redemption options, allowing you to maximize your benefits.
4. Overlooking Award Redemption Calculations
Calculate the value per mile on award tickets to ensure you’re getting the most out of your miles. Avoid poor redemptions by aiming for values over 2 cents per mile, and be cautious with those falling between 1-2 cents per mile.
5. Hoarding Miles
Miles don’t appreciate over time; therefore, hoarding them without redeeming diminishes their value. Start utilizing your earned miles to get the best possible value.
6. Solely Relying on Airline Websites for Award Flights
Expand your search beyond an airline’s website when looking for award flights. Sometimes, the best options are not readily visible, and utilizing partner airline search tools or services like Points Pros can uncover hidden gems.
7. Using Miles for Merchandise
While airlines allow miles to be spent on merchandise, it’s often an unfavorable redemption option. Do the math to ensure you’re not squandering your miles, and consider cash-back credit cards for better rewards.
8. Allowing Miles to Expire
Prevent valuable miles from expiring by engaging in a single miles-earning or spending transaction with partner programs. Linking your credit card to dining programs or utilizing shopping portals are simple ways to keep your miles active.
9. Neglecting to Earn Miles for Your Kids
Children can accrue frequent flyer miles when purchasing a seat. Take advantage of family pooling programs if available, or use one family member’s account to book tickets for others, providing flexibility in redemptions.
10. Solely Earning Airline Miles
Explore beyond airline miles and consider diversifying into other travel rewards currencies, such as hotel loyalty programs or flexible credit card points. Diversification can unlock more opportunities for free travel.
In essence, by avoiding these common mistakes and embracing a strategic approach, you can make the most of your frequent flyer miles and enjoy greater savings on your family travels. Check out my guide to the best credit cards for family travel for recommendations on earning diverse rewards.