Photo Credit: Chi King
HOW TO GO WHERE YOU WANT TO GO… FOR FREE: PART 2
[Link to Part 1]
HOW TO EVALUATE YOUR AIR MILES
Experts in this industry frequently state that you should value air miles at a single cent ($0.01) per mile. The higher the better!
The equation looks like this:
Cost of miles’ acquisition / Miles earned
The point that I’m trying to put across is that the miles you acquire are free of charge. Sure, if you opt to use credit cards for accumulation of air miles, then you do need to spend. But then, you spend on what you’d normally need/ want, so the only alteration to your normal habits would be that you swap over to your new credit cards of choice.
Then, you should also consider the redeemed miles value:
Cost of the ticket when purchased using cash / Number of miles traveled
As a working example of this. Let’s say you had to use 130,000 miles for a first class flight on American Airlines that took you from Los Angeles International Airport to Hong Kong, non-stop, one-way, and the cost of that was $17,205; you’d have a redemption value of $0.13 (13 cents) per mile, and that represents good value – anything above 10 cents/ mile represents decent value these days, providing, of course, that your destination was someplace you really wanted to go to.
MANAGING AIR MILES
If you have a few credit cards you’re using for air miles/ points accumulation and you are racking up points from multiple loyalty programs simultaneously, you’re wise keeping note of what’s going on.
You can, if you wish, create an Excel program for this. If you don’t have Excel, use a spreadsheet in Google Docs, which is free, and your files will be safely stored online, in the cloud.
For iPhone and iPad, here’s a recent review of apps that can be used for tracking air miles.
HOW TO EARN AIR MILES
Earning air miles is a category that calls for regular updates. All the same, we do need to discuss how it’s achieved.
There are three methods, in general, that can be used to accumulate air miles/ points:
- Airline related credit cards
If you wish to rely on credit card signups to accumulate air miles/ points, and this is prudent for those who wish to fly often or wish to fly business or first class occasionally, then you can, by selecting appropriate cards, easily accumulate in excess of 100,000 miles in a single month. And sure, this is the best way to accumulate on the high-end, but signing up for credit cards is not everyone’s cup of tea.
After all, some of us have less than stellar credit records. Others simply don’t wish to have a small stack of credit cards to hand.
I’ll be discussing a whole lot more about using credit cards for mileage/ points accumulation in later posts.
You can accumulate air miles through flying. However, if you don’t fly that often, it can be a fairly slow road to take. Nevertheless, it’s well worth doing this, but do make sure that when you are booking flights, you will, in fact, get credited with air miles. And do get your miles at the time of booking, as opposed to after your flight. Yes, you can still have your air miles credited after a flight, but it can be difficult and time-consuming.
Oh, and by the by, you don’t get air miles’ credit when you use air miles to “purchase” a ticket, sorry to say. Not technically, anyhow.
- Other ways to accumulate air miles/ points
(Note that none of the following are affiliate links)
Online shopping portals
You can earn an amount of air miles by making purchases through/ at shopping portals that are partnered by some of the larger airlines. As an example, the shopping portal provided by Southwest Rapid Rewards offer anything between one and ten miles for each dollar spent.
Here are a few more online shopping portals that can be used to generate air miles:
http://www4.aeroplan.com/estore/ (Operated by Aimia Canada Inc.)
Rental cars and hotel stays
Many airlines partner up with rental car companies, and in which case, you can earn air miles through car rental. And the same can be said for many hotel bookings – you earn miles when you spend on hotel stays.
It’s worth comparing the prices of hotel accommodation offered by these portals in comparison to other portals, just to be sure that you are, in fact, hitting on a good deal.
American Airlines, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines have teamed up with Fidelity, and thus reward those with broker accounts that are non-retirement in nature with as much as 50,000 miles. Here’s the breakdown as it stands at the moment:
15,000 miles for a $25,000+ deposit
25,000 miles for a $50,000+ deposit
50,000 miles for a $100,000+ deposit
I’ve heard that some folks make a deposit into such accounts simply to avail of the miles. Then, within a given time frame, so as to meet the terms and conditions, they close the account.
Surveys via e-Rewards
By taking surveys through e-Rewards, you can earn AAdvantage Miles. Simply by joining, you’ll be credited with 250 bonus miles. e-Rewards is open to residents in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, Germany, France, Italy, and more.
If you bank through BankDirect, you can earn plenty of air miles.
Air miles can be had by way of new account openings, monthly offers, and offers through certificates of deposit.
If you like to dine out, then you can earn air miles this way, too.
Here are a few networks that let you enjoy the fruits:
You simply sign up to the program/s with a credit card, and you earn miles per dollar spent. Occasionally, if you’re a new signee and you leave a review, you can get bonus miles added to your account.
Should you opt to sign up to the dining out programs above, you’ll need to utilize a different credit card for each, given that they are managed by the same company.
For airlines, or for any business, advertising can prove to be a massively expensive pursuit. Exposure on social media can, on the other hand, be entirely free of charge.
Airlines, fairly frequently, establish promotions whereby you are able to earn 500 air miles or possibly more simply for “liking” the airline on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et cetera.
How to keep abreast of these offers? I’ll keep you updated.
There are alternative ways to earn air miles that are not reliant on actual “bum-in-seat” flying, or on credit card usage, but the above list offers some of the main ones at the moment. I’ll keep you updated on this matter.
And that concludes this part of our journey together.
Next up, and we’ll be discussing: