BrownGirlsFly is all about finding and taking advantage of travel deals and promotions. Here’s the run down of our top tips regarding frequent flier and frequent hotel stay programs that every casual and expert traveler should follow.
Tip 1: Sign Up!!
Uh Duh? This may seem obvious to you, but we know way too many people who don’t follow this simple rule. As casual fliers, they don’t bother to open an account. This is a mistake! Even casual fliers can benefit greatly from frequent flier programs. If you don’t have an account, you can’t receive the benefits.
Tip 2: Book Flights & Be Sure To Provide Your Account Number
This one also probably seems like a no-brainer, but again, it’s another common mistake made by many people we know. When you’re planning a trip, try first to book a ticket on an airline where you have a frequent flier account. The cheapest fare is not always the best fare. If the price difference is less than $20, book it on your preferred airline anyway. It’ll be worth it in the long run. And, while you are making your arrangements, always provide the frequent flier number. You *can* call the airline later to add it or even do it at the airport on the day of travel. But, why give yourself an opportunity to forget? Keep those numbers somewhere easy to access. Store them in your cellphone if necessary.
Tip 3: Be Strategic About Which Programs You Use
There are three major partnerships which enable you to earn and redeem points on US-based and International airlines. You can sign up for as many frequent flier programs as you’d like. But, to earn rewards faster, it’s generally best at any given time, to choose all your miles-earning energy on one airline per partnership.
- Star Alliance: United Airlines, US Airways, Continental, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Swiss Air and several more airlines in Europe, Asia and Africa
- One World: American Airlines, Mexicana, British Airways, Iberia and many more
- Sky Team: Delta/Northwest Airlines, Aeromexico, Alitalia, Air France, KLM and more
For example, BGFly is a big fan of Star Alliance. For any flights we take on United, Continental, US Airways or any of the other partners, we send all of those points to United. It allows us to pick cheaper fares or more convenient itineraries on the partner airlines but accrue points faster our United accounts. In the Sky Team program we’ve chosen Delta, and for One World we send our miles to American Airlines.
Though this is our typical process, there are of course exceptions. Throughout the year, bonus mileage promos pop up that may warrant a temporary switch. And, there are times when non-partner airlines like Southwest, Airtran, Jetblue, or Spirit have fares significantly cheaper.
Our point here is that you should ALWAYS have a strategy for how you’re going to earn miles in mind and then stick to it at booking time.
Tip 4: Sign up for every promo you can.
Even if you’re not planning to travel anytime soon, sign up for every promo that you know of. They’re free, only take a few minutes and could result in a big return. You never know when a cheap deal, last minute family emergency or surprise business trip will come up. We’ve seen friends forfeit thousands of miles and status because they didn’t have any trips planned. Then, when the trips happened, the registration window had passed. Don’t let that happen to you!
Tip 5: Non-Travel Partner Activities Can Earn You Lots Of Miles/Points
Every time you rent a car, be sure to select an airline to send the points to. This is an easy step requiring minimal additional costs (approx. $1/rental day) but many people forget to do it. Do you shop online for books, clothes, shoes and other necessities? How about eating out in restaurants? They can earn you miles, and so can new cellphones, bank accounts, investment accounts, credit cards, car insurance quotes and a host of other activities. Every major airline and hotel has a list of partners that can earn you mileage without ever going on a trip. Take advantage of it.
THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING
Just to hit the point home, let us share an example. Last year, BGFly earned approximately 90K points in the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s Priority Club program. That’s enough for several free nights in a high-end property or up to 18 free nights in a Points Break hotel. How did we do it? We only stayed in and IHG chain hotel for a total of 7 nights spread across 4 stays throughout the year. Under usual circumstances, this would have earned us a total of about 8K points. But, we earned 90K! The difference was a result of bonus point promos and non-hotel partner activities. That’s absolutely worth the extra effort!
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you remember nothing else from today’s post, remember this: Sign up for everything you can and be strategic about your travel and non-travel partner activities.