The Ugly Truth About Airline Miles : How to Use Them

FlyerPointsTicketYou’ve signed up for a frequent flyer program and you’ve been using your credit card accumulating miles. You’re thinking of catching a flight out of the country so you call up the airline – only to be told that you are unable to redeem your miles. Sound familiar? If it doesn’t – consider yourself lucky. Many people sign up for frequent flyer programs with the expectation that it will be very easy to use the miles, but often they run into a lot of “red tape” that is frustrating and a little complicated. But we’d like to show you the best ways to get around the “hoopla” and make use of the miles you’ve earned. The bad news is, sometimes it can be complicated, but the good news is there are good frequent flyer programs that have clear instructions and great benefits.

Understand How Frequent Flier Miles Work

Did you know the frequent flyer market is bigger than the airline flight business? Airlines make more money by partnering with other businesses such as credit card companies and hotels – than when selling flights. These companies are then able to offer the miles as a bonus for using their service. For instance, some credit cards will give you one mile for every dollar spent. When you accumulate  a certain amount of points you are then able to get a “free flight”. Of course the flight is not “free” as you’ve been spending money on other things to accumulate the miles. For example, if you use 20,000 miles for a free flight, and you get one mile for every dollar – you’ve essentially been charged $20,000 for a flight.

Be Flexible and Plan Ahead

If you do want to use your miles. You’ll want to plan ahead and don’t expect the best flight times, routes or locations. Unfortunately the frequent flyer market is not regulated and the airlines essentially have the power to do as they please. This means that it’s possible that – while you are accumulating points by using your credit card or by actually flying – the airport can make it difficult for you to redeem your miles for a flight you want. The best thing you can do, is to plan ahead. The more lead time, the better. You may want to consider planning an entire year ahead.

If it’s too difficult to get a “reasonable flight” you may also want to consider using your points for a hotel stay or alternative benefit. If you are strategic about when you travel and where you travel you may find some great deals with your hotel accommodation.

If you want to use your miles, you’re going to have to be strategic, patient and flexible about when you travel, or you need to work with someone who knows how to get past the red tape and restrictions, and can help you get the flight you need, when you need it, and be able to use your points at the same time.

Yes, it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. Welcome to CheapBIZClass.