Frequent Flier Miles: Make sure they don't go to waste

February 26, 2008 10:32:37 AM PST
If you're shopping for airline tickets, thinking about Spring Break, or even figuring out which airlines to start flying frequently to rack up miles there are some new frequent flier trends you need to know about! Shop Cop Jennifer Litwin. She's shares some tips to make sure your frequent flier miles aren't going to waste. How to make sure your frequent flier miles aren't going to waste? What are the latest frequent flier program trends?
  • Miles expire in 18 months.
  • Increase in blackout dates (or dates you can't travel usually occur during peak travel seasons... airlines can charge double miles, so instead of 25,000, i.e. 50,000 miles-United)
  • Option to use miles now to buy things like electronics, flowers, hotel stays, rental cars
  • Can buy miles now as "gift cards", just like you would at a retail store for up to 250,000 miles! (costs around $6,000)
  • If you are using your miles to buy things, know that the cost to redeem miles can be high ($25 or more!), and you will need to fill out and have a form approved before accruing miles at retailers.
  • What frequent flier status gets you on the major airlines:

    UNITED: Become Premier when fly 25,000 mi. per year, helps you get off standby list, every 10,000 miles gets you 500-mile upgrades or you can purchase upgrades, even allowed now to check an additional bag if you have a lot of miles. Can transfer miles to another person. Aside from earning miles at the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental, Starwood), and car rentals ((Hertz, Alamo Budget, Avis, Dollar and National), get huge miles when you shop for groceries. At Dominick's, can get 50% miles back for each dollar you spend. Must apply. Earn huge miles when investing for your retirement: 25,000 miles with Ameritrade, when buy or sell or finance home-earn miles with Chase, ELoan and Fidelity--- form necessary to earn miles.

    SOUTHWEST: Good for families or couples. If you fly 50 roundtrips in a year you get a free companion pass for an unlimited number of trips. Can change your companion 3 times/year. If fly 8 roundtrips within 24 consecutive months get free ticket.

    AMERICAN: Great for gifting miles to another. Can give 40k miles per year to up to 3 different people. For $6,000 you can buy, yes buy, 250,000 miles for someone---great gift. Can accrue miles by donating to charities. Can use miles to stay at hotels, rent cars and even buy electronics. Also use miles at Amazon.com. Cost to redeem miles, though, is $25.

    NORTHWEST: Good program with retailers who give miles, and good for shoppers. Promotional miles (or double or triple miles), like earning 600 miles when buy flowers at FTD, through Valentine's Day, or jewelry stores giving 3-10 miles per dollar spent. But don't be ready to jump into the program for less than 1,000 miles?not worth it.

    DELTA: Can charge up to double the miles during blackout dates. But the good news is that companions are eligible for upgrades with frequent flier member. You can earn up to 100,000 if you get a Chase Home Equity Line, or 7,000 miles for each $10,000 borrowed?

    AMERICAN: Great for gifting miles to another. Can give 40k miles per year to up to 3 different people. For $6,000 you can buy, yes buy, 250,000 miles for someone---great gift. Can accrue miles by donating to charities. Can use miles to stay at hotels, rent cars and even buy electronics. Also use miles at Amazon.com. Cost to redeem miles, though, is $25.

    *** Caveat: Avoid airline credit cards as a means for collecting miles. Typically, the interest rates on those are very high.

    For more information visit www.jenniferlitwin.com.


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