o one ever gets anything for free, and frequent flyer miles sound especially too good to be true. Every dollar you spend on your credit card counts toward free airline tickets? The truth is that the airlines will do anything to avoid putting the cash back in your pocket, but with a few simple tricks you can master the art of the frequent flyer points and fly for free to your next destination.
First, it pays to read the fine print. Before you sign up for a frequent flyer credit card, be sure you know all the regulations on the card. You can also sign up for a mailing list that will alert you to special promotions and deals. Choose your card wisely. Many will give you more bang for your buck. Research the card’s partner companies. Sometimes you can earn double points by buying books at specific book stores or buying your groceries in certain places. If you master the system, you can multiply your points. When you fly, be sure to charge your plane ticket to your credit card. Don’t be afraid to use your friends. They can buy your free tickets from you in cash while you pay for theirs on your credit card. While you are collecting flyer miles, keep track of all your flights and statements. Mistakes can be made, and when they are, you need to call the credit card company or airline to straighten them out.
Airlines will often tempt you to spend your frequent flyer miles on something other than free flights. They lose money every time a frequent flyer gets on board their airplanes, so of course they will try to get you to spend your miles on something other than your flight, which is basically cash redemption. Airlines will often tempt you to drop your flights in exchange for magazine subscriptions or other promotions. Be wary of these deals. If you cash in your miles for cheap flights or club memberships, you risk losing money on the transaction. Many of these frequent flyer credit cards have annual fees attached. You don’t want to trade in your miles for less than the annual fee, at the very least.
You don’t actually have to fly to earn frequent flyer points. With a special credit card you can earn points paying for almost anything. Put your child’s college tuition on the credit card. Put a big, social dinner on your credit card and ask your dining partners to give you cash for their meals. As long as you pay your credit card bill on time and avoid incurring the high interest fees, this is your best way to earn extra miles.
When you have finally raised enough frequent flyer miles to take your dream vacation, you will get the best value for your miles by acquiring your tickets early, ideally a year in advance. This will ensure that you get the best seats and upgrades for your air miles. Try to choose a flight that won’t be crowded with weekend travelers. Travel midweek or take an afternoon flight to avoid the early morning rush. The airline will appreciate your courtesy and you will be rewarded with better deals.