Airline miles are a great way to save money while you travel. They are especially helpful if you are a frequent flyer. Once you join a membership program, you can begin earning airline miles towards free flights and other rewards. However, there are a few rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Before you book your award travel, here is what you should know about how to properly use your airline miles.
Earning Airline Miles
The biggest mistake people make when booking airline reservations is not including their membership number. The easiest way to ensure you receive your miles is to book your flights online. Once you sign into your account, your membership number and personal information automatically attach to your reservations. In addition to having your information on file, you have the added bonus of instantly knowing if the fares are eligible for airline miles. My carrier even includes how many miles you will earn for each leg of your trip.
Most airlines also offer dedicated credit cards to help you earn miles even more quickly. This can be a huge benefit to you if you are planning several trips in the coming months. Not only do they come with free miles once you reach their spending limits, but they also accrue every time you use the card. If you use it to book your initial flights, you will usually receive enough for a free flight. Furthermore, most airlines offer double miles for purchases made directly through their company. This is a great way to earn extra miles and flights each year.
Understanding the Terms and Conditions
Learning how to properly use airline miles requires you to read the fine print. Since you are not paying the full airfare, there are terms and conditions that apply. First and foremost, you can only earn miles when you book an eligible fare. This excludes bookings through third party websites like TripAdvisor and Agoda or discounted rates. As a former customer service agent, this was the most common obstacle people experienced when they did not receive their airline miles or points.
Secondly, when you book award travel, the seats are limited based on availability. Just because a flight has open seats does not guarantee that you can redeem it using your airline miles. Each flight sets aside a certain percentage of seats for each reward type. Once they are booked, you will either have to wait for a cancellation or find another flight route. Before you make your travel plans, make sure that you have secured the flights for the dates you need.
Purchasing and Redeeming Rewards
After you find the flights that work for you, the booking process is straight forward. It will immediately deduct the points from your account and issue the award. Most airlines will even allow you to purchase additional miles if you are short of the required amount. Often times it is still cheaper than paying for the full fare.
You can also peruse promotional offers to buy discounted miles for even more savings. Moreover, these offers are not limited to the airlines. Airlines have a number of partners that allow you to redeem rewards by transferring your airline miles. You can use them for hotel stays, car rentals, wine clubs, insurance, and other online vendors. There are numerous ways for you to enjoy the benefits of your airline miles.
Transferring Your Airline Miles
The last point to consider is transferring your airline miles if you don’t intend to use them. If there are no partners that meet your needs, consider giving them to another member. For a small fee, you can give them to as a gift to save someone money on their next vacation. If there is no one specific in mind, you can also gift airline miles to charities.
Airline miles are an extremely useful and adaptable benefit of joining an airline’s membership program. There are a variety of ways you can make the most of rewards program. When you learn to properly use airline miles, you can save a ton of money in travel expenses.
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Jenny Smedra is an avid world traveler, ESL teacher, former archaeologist, and freelance writer. Choosing a life abroad had strengthened her commitment to finding ways to bring people together across language and cultural barriers. While most of her time is dedicated to either working with children, she also enjoys good friends, good food, and new adventures.