The High Mileage Club

Last week, we talked about how I travel using sites that offer flight deals.  I hope that post helped you in some way or even inspired you to book a trip! If you’re interested in how I use my airline mileage to fly for next to nothing, keep reading.

Everyone knows that each airline has their own frequent flyer program. If you haven’t enrolled in these free programs, DO IT NOW! Each time you book a flight, rental car, or hotel you earn miles with that airline that can be used later for the same purposes. I have accrued miles with all of the major carriers such as Delta, United, Southwest, and American Airlines as well as some smaller, regional airlines. BEWARE: All frequent flyer programs are not created equal. Some of them require you to have a crazy amount of miles in order for them to be used for a trip. Although Delta and United provide the comforts and luxury I enjoy, I don’t care for their reward programs. My favorite program is Rapid Rewards by Southwest. You earn a considerable amount of miles each time you book with them and it doesn’t take very long for those miles to add up. A few years ago, I booked a flight to Atlanta from Houston for $2.50. Yes, you read that correctly. TWO DOLLARS. FIFTY CENTS!!! At the time I had about 7,000 miles with Southwest, which is very easy to accumulate if you take advantage of their flight deals. I used 5,730 of those miles and paid the September 11th tax which was less than the cost of a latte at Starbucks.

My second favorite program is AAdvantage by American Airlines. Most of you know that each airline offers some type of credit card that can be used to earn miles for that frequent flyer program. I used to get these offers in the mail all the time but ignored them. When I got serious about traveling, I did some comparing before choosing AA. They rewarded me 70,000+ miles after I spent $3,000. I know that sounds like a lot but if you use your credit card to pay your monthly bills it really isn’t that much. Becoming a card holder comes with its own set of benefits such as:

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on Purchases
  • First Checked Bag Free
  • Group 1 Boarding
  • Citi Private Pass – Early and sometimes discounted access to concert events, sporting events, theatre tickets, and dining experiences.
  • Access to the Admirals Club Lounge – At more than 50 aiports worldwide the lounges feature wi-fi, complimentary wine & spirits, coffee, tea, soft drinks, light snacks and sometimes actual meals. There are also work areas with access to copiers and printers.

Last summer I used some of my miles for a one-way flight from Paris to Nashville. The cost to fly  from Paris back to the states? About 50,000 miles and $242.16. For the international and longest legs of my flight, I was in business class which was an amazing experience. The best part was the 9 hour layover in London and experiencing the Executive Club with British Airways which is a partner airline where I can also use my miles.

Two Tips for Accruing Miles Quickly

  1. When doing online shopping, go through the airline’s reward program site. You can shop thousands of retailers and earn miles. No need for a credit card. You can register your debit/bank card and use that!
  2. Research the program and see which restaurants in your area partner with it. Again, use your registered card and earn miles while you eat at your favorite restaurants.

I hope that you learned something new about earning and using airline miles. If you have more questions, leave them in the comments. I’ll be sharing more info on how I travel inexpensively next Wednesday. Thanks for reading!

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