How to get frequent flyer miles to fly for free
There are travel destinations that the only thing that they have expensive is the ticket, and that’s when the miles make their best game. Much is talked about miles, but how do the airlines’ frequent flyer programs work?
With these programs, airlines seek your loyalty and those of us who love to travel pursue their benefits: yes, free tickets, upgrade to business class, lounge access, and promotions.
You can accumulate mileage or points on each trip you make and where you register your frequent flyer number. The
Three things you have to know about frequent flyer programs:
- The frequent traveler number is non-transferable and only works when the person registered in the program travels.
- If you travel with family or friends, each member must have a frequent traveler number.
- If you buy a ticket from someone, you will not accumulate extra miles.
How to participate in a miles program?
I am currently using Avianca – Lifemiles frequent flyer program because it is the airline in which I normally fly, but the procedure is similar to other companies. My recommendation is that you start with a single frequent flyer program and include all your flight miles, credit cards, car reservations or hotels. With that, you earn faster and you can change these miles in the shortest time for a ticket.
It is no use having a few miles accumulated in many frequent flyer programs if you can not change them.
There are currently two miles programs: with the airline and through the bank.
Accumulate miles directly with the airline
It is more convenient for people who travel frequently, and who accumulate miles on each flight. Check these considerations:
- If you do not have a frequent flyer number, register in the program directly on the airline’s page. You only need your personal information and email. Tip. Save the frequent traveler number because you will need it whenever you make reservations for flights, hotels, and cars.
- When you buy a ticket, be sure to include your frequent flyer number when making the purchase. It does not matter if you buy from the airline’s website or on reservation pages, such as Kayak.
- If you did not include your frequent flyer number when making the purchase, do not worry, you can include it at check-in or at the airline counter. Do not lose those miles!
- Can you earn miles on your frequent traveler if you travel on another airline? Yes, there are alliances between airlines, for example, Star Alliance has subscribed to United, Avianca, Copa, and Lufthansa. If you buy the ticket on one of the airlines that belong to the alliance, you can use your frequent flyer number and earn miles.
- Tickets purchased with miles do not accumulate more miles.
Accumulate miles through the bank and credit cards
Are not you a frequent traveler? This is the modality that will work best for you. The banking entities have agreements with the airlines and you can earn miles with your credit card each time you make a purchase or a payment.
Some credit cards are specific to an airline, however, others accumulate the miles and then allow you to move them to any miles program. This gives you the flexibility to buy the ticket with the airline that best suits your trip.
In most programs you earn one mile for every dollar of purchase, so, a ticket that costs 30 thousand miles, requires that you have made purchases for $ 30 thousand dollars. But do not worry: the secret is to see the accumulation of miles as a saving, no matter how long you take to have your free trip.
Tip. Credit cards offer miles of welcome, so do not miss the opportunity to give your account a good boost.
When you arrive at the desired moment to exchange your miles for airline tickets or hotel or car reservations, you should take into account:
- You can redeem the miles for a ticket for anyone, it does not necessarily have to be for the owner of the program.
- If you change the miles for an air ticket, you only have to pay the airport taxes and these vary depending on the country or the airport. It even varies if you are arriving, leaving or you are in transit at the air terminal.
- You do not necessarily have to change the miles for a ticket to go and return to the same destination. For example, you can buy a ticket to London and return to your home from Madrid. This will help you save time and internal flights.
- Search multi-destination flights. For the same number of miles, you can find a flight that goes to more than one destination. For example, with 70 thousand miles I have done Costa Rica-Prague, Prague-Barcelona, Barcelona-Costa Rica.
- Always review business class options. Many times, for 10 thousand extra miles, you can buy better tickets that are very worthwhile, especially on long flights.
- Similarly, if you accumulate miles in Copa and want to use the miles to buy a United ticket, you can do it. That’s what the commercial alliances of the airlines are for.
- You can change miles for hotel reservations or rent cars.
When is it advisable to buy miles?
Miles are expensive and that is why you have to think twice before buying them. There are 2 cases in which I recommend buying them:
- If you are going to change your miles and you need a small amount to buy the ticket (less than 5 thousand), it may be one of those cases in which it is advisable to buy the miles. Take into account that the price of 10 thousand miles is around $ 330. Depending on where you go, with that money, you can buy a ticket, so it is often better not to use the miles and keep accumulating them.
- There are promotions to buy miles several times a year, one of the best times is during Black Friday, where there are promotions such as those of Avianca up to 3 miles for the price of one. If you already have a trip planned and you need some miles, that is a good time to make the purchase.
If the frequent traveler account or program does not show activity in a year and a half, you lose the miles you accumulated. This is how it works on most airlines but check your program.
In case your miles are about to expire, there are a couple of options: buy some miles or donate a thousand miles to charities. This will register a movement in the account and you will have, again, a year and a half to continue accumulating.
Categories: Travel Tips