The Adventures of Cindy Li
Getting the most mileage on your air fare
May 17 , 2009
Once upon a time…
my friend Elliot asked via twitter, “Thinking about joining an AirMiles scheme but I honestly don’t know where to start. Anyone in the know got a recommendation?” Now because I flew a lot last year and my mom taught me not to waste money I have been keeping an eye out for deals. I have been a member of many mileage programs through the years. I see it as the same as storing things into a piggy bank.
Most of my friends have been trying to figure out new ways to maximize their benefits without spending more money. This is a good way if you are being sent to conferences or business trips on your dime or somene else’s. Your miles can get you free trips, car rentals and hotels sometimes (it all adds up).
The ones I’ve listed tend to have more benefits if your on the US side of the pond. Sorry! I had nothing to do with it. :) I’ve also flown United’s more often than anything so that’s also why there is a lot more info on United.
My tips on earning miles
I’m going to list the main ones that I think you’d use. This post is going to be rather long.
Sign up for one that is free and you will get miles for spending. I charged a down payment for my car last year and got miles that way. A friend of mine did it for deposits for her wedding. The key is paying it off at the end of the month. If you have the money in the bank already then do it, if you can’t help charging every chance you get ignore this. :P
If you are going to Super Shuttle (put in your Northwest/Delta miles). Regardless if you are flying with them or not.
Hotel, Car Rental and Misc:
Check the hotel you’ve booked, flowers for your Mom, or are going to book check to see if there is a promotion for double miles if you sign. If they do sign up for it and choose the option where you can have the miles onto your favorite airline mileage program.
If you are going to sign up, do it through United’s site or Delta’s for the miles.
If you go to any of the ones listed in United’s program then its a no brainer to earn miles. You just give the program your mileage number and it keeps track of when you earn it. Best if you are using the mileage credit card on top of earning the grocery points.
United’s program is called Mileage Plus (U.S. website | U.K. website)
There are different tiers for member levels but it can get you things like free baggage (2 pieces if you hit the premier level) and the special line where you skip everyone :P . I have even used the link that United has to get miles for my Netflix when I signed up.
Check the United promotions page:
Tip:to get the most out of the program sometimes they have offers for flying that you need to sign up for before you buy a plane ticket. There’s a United flight reward chart to see how quickly you can fly for almost free (with the taxes that you will have to pay).
I’ve signed up for the United credit card because I could get miles.It’s another way to maximize your miles on things you do every day like buying clothes, groceries, gas or pay for your flickr account ;). Every now and then they also do promotions to double your miles.
- United Visa Mileages: US credit card You get 30,0000 miles free after $250 in purchase, $1 mile for every dollar spent. The One-way, 1,000 mile, one-class upgrade certificate, and a $25 United discount travel certificate are a pain in the butt to redeem you have to go to the airport to turn them in or find a United travel agency.)
- United American Express Credit Card: U.K. American Express Mileage website You get free annual fee and miles. You guys totally don’t get the benefits we do in the U.S. for this. Sorry. :(
United also has a Mileage Diner’s Program, (U.S. only). You enter your credit card number (they track where you eat). Easy as long as its places you normally eat. My favorite Thai place in VA was a part of the program so it was always a bonus for me.
Just see this as a nice surprise if you get it unless you like looking up where you eat each night and if it fits within the dining program. ;)
United has a program called Grocery Miles (U.S. only, there isn’t one for the U.K.) Where you when you buy groceries you get miles the stores currently include:
- Saveway:Earn 125 miles for every $250 you spend in qualifying purchases
- Dominick’s:Earn 125 miles for every $250 you spend in qualifying purchases
- Genuardi’s:Earn 125 miles for every $250 you spend in qualifying purchases
- Pavilions:Earn 125 miles for every $250 you spend in qualifying purchases.
- VONS:Earn 125 miles for every $250 you spend in qualifying purchases.
There’s lots of various hotel offering but the hotels also have their own hotel programs too. Sometimes you have to book via the link website.
Delta and Northwest Airlines
Delta and Northwest Airlines have recently merged so its one less air mileage program you have to sign up for.Delta’s website has a chartso you can see how long it takes for you to earn a free flight. Skymiles program also lets you have Netflix (first time members deal only).
Looks like the same program for Delta and the United deal I mentioned earlier for the Skymiles Dining program.
Delta and Northwest offer you miles for booking your Super Shuttle and giving your skymiles number.
Tip:You can earn miles even if you aren’t flying with this airline. :)
Their air miles program is called Executive Plus (you have to choose which country you are in to get the appropriate currency and access.)
So BA offers you an American Express card to earn miles. If you do want to sign up let me know so I can earn miles. ;)
They have two tiers of mileage accrual based on what card you get: BA American Express or the Premium Plus Card (£150 fee) but you get faster accrual.
- Collect 1,000 BA miles after first purchase
- Collect 1 BA mile for every £1
- Redeem BA miles on BA flight and you’ve spent £20,000 on your card in one year and you will get another companion for the same flight.
BA American Express Premium Card: (You have to have a certain level of in come to get this card in addition to the fee)
- Pay £150 fee
- Collect 6,000 miles after first purchase
- Collect 1.5 BA miles for every £1
- Redeem BA miles on BA flight and you’ve spent £10,000 on your card in one year and you will get another companion for the same flight.
If you are going to use Heathrow Parking.
Holiday Extras: if you book ahead of time you’ll earn five BA Miles for every £1 you spend when booking airport parking with Holiday Extras online.
If you are going to change money for a trip, you can use Travelex. You can do it in terminal 5 or you can order it online. You have to present your card at the time you purchase or collect your currency to get the miles.
AAdvantage Partners:There are tons of different offers too from FedEx Kinkos to Tmobile Hotspots.
AAdvantage Dining is the same as United, and Delta. You sign up by giving them your credit card to track.
Virgin Atlantic offers an American Express card you can earn one mile for every £1 you spend.
I think that’s it from me. Hope all the tips helped! :)