At the request of close friends and fellow bloggers, I’m posting my advice and experience with frequent flyer programs thus far. I am certainly new to this game, but I think that I’m a quick learner.
To begin, I flew from Florida to France this past August– and I did so while enjoying a first class seat. And to brag a little bit more, I spent only $5 on my flight.
As of right now, I only have a frequent flyer account with Delta– which leads to my first piece of advice:
1. Start small.
Frequent flyer programs usually don’t cost a dime to join! So why not just sign up for every single program you can find? Despite what I’ve read about joining more than one program, I think it’s better to get your feet wet first. If you have itchy feet and your travel destination can simply be listed as “everywhere,” then you should still probably pull in on the reigns a little bit. If you try to open several flyer program accounts at once, then you’ll be paralyzed by the options when it comes to choosing flights. In addition, they are called frequent flyer programs for a reason. You’ll only be able to enjoy the rewards from frequent loyalty.
I’m sure some may argue against this, but I still think I have a solid argument. The best analogy for this is to recall that time in college when you tried to juggle more than one significant other etc. What happened? You spread yourself too thin (pun intended). You forgot about dinner with one or accidentally texted an inside joke to the wrong person or simply didn’t have enough stamina to offer your sloppy seconds. In result, they lost interest in you and left, or your relations and ambitions fizzled out due to over-exhausted efforts. What seemed like an awesome idea at first did not offer the benefits you expected. Instead, you’ve spent all this money going out on the town and you still don’t have someone to bring you soup when you’re sick (-slash- sleep with you).
If you try to juggle more than one airline program, you’ll take much longer to see any benefit from your loyalty. You need to learn how to play the game first. How can you quickly rack up the miles to fly free if your miles are spread through 5 or 15 different programs?
2. Earn Miles Without Flying
This is often very possible. You can earn miles in several ways, such as credit cards (more on that in a bit), surveys, product promotions, etc. The key to this is thorough study whatever frequent flyer program you’ve joined or are thinking of joining.
One program to check out is e-miles.com. It’s a free program where you register and respond to different marketing surveys and campaign. I’ve managed to rack up about a 1,000 miles from participating.
3. Find a Credit Card to Earn Miles
Frankly, if a credit card isn’t offering some kind of reward, then you shouldn’t have it. Credit cards often offer flyer’s miles, or points to redeem to flights, merchandise etc. Do some thorough research for choosing one to apply for– and if there’s a credit associated with an airline that you frequently fly with, then consider that card if it’s a good offer.
I have the American Express Delta Skymiles credit card, and it is awesome. I chose Delta because so far I’ve had only positive experiences with them and their Sky Team includes a lot of international airlines, so I can usually earn at least 25% of my miles from co-partner lines. This card earns at least 1 mile per dollar spent and there is usually a bonus offer of a few thousand miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.
Keep in mind that this advice is only solid if you’re responsible with credit cards. My habit includes putting all of my expenses on my card and paying off the balance every month. However, most people don’t have the training or discipline to not spend more money than they have. I’ve personally had my own dark battles, and during the holidays, and arriving spells of boredom etc. I often lock my credit cards in a safe. I have a friend who even cut his credit card in half.
If that’s an issue, then put all of your monthly bills that debit automatically from your bank account: cable, internet, Netflix, cellphone bill, etc. These usually have a fixed amount that is charged each month. You can set up an auto-pay for that predetermined balance and lock the card away so you’re not tempted to buy anything outside of your budget– which is an essential practice if you’re trying to save up for a trip.
If you do this, then you could be magically earning miles without having to do anything!
4. Study Your Program Thoroughly
This is how I managed to acquire 120,000 miles in approximately 7 months. The great thing about Delta is that I can earn miles without spending a dime. There are often promotions outside of the American Express card.
For example, I can spend anywhere from 2-30 minutes filling out surveys earn money through e-Rewards. Once I reach a set amount, I can use this monopoly money to buy miles. I’ve been able to scrape at lease 1,000 miles from these surveys, which I often do while sitting on a train or when I was bored and had nothing to do at work.
Another opportunity they offer is Delta’s Skymiles Shopping. At my job in the United States, we would order our office supplies online. The store was affiliated with the Delta Skymiles Shopping program, so instead of typing the web address for Office Depot, I would log into my Delta Skymiles Shopping account and click on the Office Depot link from there. This would tag the purchase through the Delta promotion, and in result, every time we ordered office supplies, I would earn $2 per mile (I asked permission from my boss first).
Delta has many other ways to earn miles, which is why they’re my main program that I stick to.
I would have never found out about these offers if I hadn’t read through all of the promotions and offers listed on Delta’s website. If you’re avid about acquiring miles, then you must do homework.
In the meantime, I am chilling here in Paris thanks to a free flight– and I already have about 50,000 miles again– so perhaps I’ll fly home for $5 too!
Are any of you part of a frequent flyer program or credit card? If so, which one and how is it treating you? Have you learned any tricks or can you offer any of your own personal tips? I’d love to hear about it and maybe we can continue to provide each other some insight!