Beginner’s Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles

Learn how to earn frequent flyer miles | 5 easy steps | www.globalmunchkins.com

You want to travel more, right? Well guess what… that means you are going to have to get down in the ditches and explore the chaotic world of frequent flyer miles. Don’t panic though… I created this beginner’s guide to frequent flyer miles just for you. It will guide you every step of the way. So, let’s get started…

The ULTIMATE Beginner’s Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles- 5 Tips to Get Started & Maximize Earnings!!!

1. Sign Up with a Few Big Guys

The first thing you MUST know when setting up a frequent flyer strategy is that miles can be earned through one airline and transferred into another airline’s loyalty program within the same alliance. For example: We transferred our Delta miles to Air France (both are members of the SkyTeam alliance) to afford our trip to Europe last summer.

You can view a comprehensive list of worldwide airline alliances here to figure out which loyalty programs you should sign up for. The big three are: OneWorld, Star and Skyteam. Each of which have numerous partners within their alliance.

A few that I recommend you sign up for include: (signing up is FREE)

Airlines

  • British Airways (OneWorld Alliance- American Airlines is a popular partner)
  • Delta (Skyteam Alliance- Air France & KLM are big partners)
  • United (Star Alliance- Air Canada, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa are a few partners)
  • Southwest (Southwest is not part of a major alliance)

Hotels

Car Rentals

Other

2. Store the Information Properly

No one is going to remember all the passwords and account numbers after signing up for a bunch of mileage accounts. So, I highly suggest that you utilize a mileage manager service to keep track of all your information.

My favorite mileage manager currently is Trip It Pro. This is a paid version. However, I started with their free version (Trip It) and it had everything I needed for our first few years of major travel. TripIt not only keeps track of your miles but it also stores all of your travel reservations and flights details. It even alerts you when it’s time to check in for your flight. And, what makes it super useful is you can actually check in for your flight right from the app. It is such an amazing service I can’t imagine traveling without it!

But, if you need to look elsewhere AwardWallet and UsingMiles are free web based services that can keep track of everything for you as well.

3. Choose a Credit Card that meets your Needs

Credit cards often offer huge sign up bonuses that can = 1 or even 2 free flights almost immediately. However, credit cards are not to be taken lightly as there are always risks involved when opening an account.

*I am in no way endorsing any of the credit card companies nor am I making any affiliate income. Please base your credit card decisions on your pwn personal finances.

Should you decide opening a new credit card is a good choice for you. Your next step should be making sure that your credit score is in good standing. Assuming it is… you can move on to my top choices in travel cards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

  • 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within the first 3 months and an additional 5,000 when you add an additional card holder.
  • Earn 2x on all travel and dining expenses
  • Redeem 1:1 ratio on points to British Airways, Korean Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz-Carlton and Amtrak
  • Annual fee of $95 per year, waived for the first year
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from Amex

  • 25,000 points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months (terms & limits may apply)
  • Earn 2x on purchases charged directly with hotels and resorts within the SPG program, earn 1x on all other purchases
  • Redeem points at SPG properties or transfer to 32 different airlines (most at a 1:1 ratio). Receive 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred.
  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Barclaycard Arrival

  • 40,000 miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days.
  • Earn 2x on ALL purchases
  • Get 10% of your miles back when you redeem for travel statement credits.
  • $95 annual fee (waived the first year)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees

Chase Inc Plus Business Card

  • 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months
  • 5x on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year, 2x on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel stays booked directly with the hotel each account anniversary year, 1x on other purchases.
  • Transfer points at a 1:1 ratio with Amtrak, British Airways, Hyatt, IHG, Korean Airlines, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United and Virgin Atlantic.
  • Annual fee $95
  • No Foreign Transaction Fee

These are just a few of the BEST travel credit cards out there that I have personally used and loved. There are many more on the market. The Points Guy has a cool tool to help you determine which credit card fits your spending needs here.

4. Use your Credit Card

Here’s the thing- you have to use your credit card to accrue miles/ points. And, you have to know how to take advantage of every opportunity in order to hit those sign up bonuses. This is where you will most likely need to switch up your normal expense routine a bit.

In order to maximize every dollar spent you want to put every purchase you can on your travel credit card. Especially, on purchases that earn you bonus points per transaction! That means no more paying cash unless you have to. Signing up for auto bill and/or recurring payment plans with your monthly utility companies etc… You will want to use your travel credit card for gas, shopping, groceries, dining out. You get the point! Just make sure to only spend money that you actually have in the bank because it is peril that you pay in full every month to avoid added interest and/or penalties.

5. Dining & Shopping Rewards

Add up points & miles faster by signing up for dining programs and shopping online through a mileage mall.

Dining Programs

Dining programs are free and simple. You just link your credit card to the dining program of your choice and then eat out as normal. Each time you use your credit card at a participating restaurant you earn miles/ points. Here are a few dining plans you can check out Rewards Network, Hilton’s HHonors Dining, MileagePlus Dining by United.

Mileage Malls

If you are anything like me online shopping can be your best friend. I know if I didn’t have my computer everything I owned would probably be from Target. (*note: I LOVE Target, and if Target wanted me to be a spokesperson… sample their new products I would be ALL in. I’m just saying a mama wants her variety sometimes.)

What if I told you that you could be earning additional miles/ points just by shopping online? Score! Right?

You can… all you have to do is go through a mileage mall to do your online shopping. This simple added step may take an extra minute but they will route you to popular shopping websites like: Macy’s, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Toms, iTunes and Anthropology just to name a few.

You simply log into the mileage mall. Choose the store you want by clicking their link.  Then the link takes you directly to the store’s website. From there you simply shop like normal. Only now the merchant is crediting you for your miles/ points through a tracking code. Here are a few for you to check out:

BONUS

6. My Latest Miles Hack

Of course we don’t just stick to the basics. We are booking flights for 7 passengers. We need all men on deck here. So, here is a bonus hack to help you accrue miles even faster.

  • Using the Office Supply Bonus to Your Advantage with your Chase Inc. Credit Card

    • When you buy office supplies with your Chase Inc card you receive 5x miles on every dollar spent. Meaning $100 spent at an office supplies store = 500 frequent flyer miles!!!
    • So, we got a bit creative. We realized that Staples sells gift cards for other places we frequent often like Target, Amazon, Starbucks, Chipotle, Panera, Fandango and Lowe’s just to name a few. Typically, we would only earn 1x on these purchases.
    • However, when we purchase gift cards to these places from Staples (or any other office supply store) BAM! 5x the miles with NO additional spending!

Pin for Later-

Learn how to earn frequent flyer miles | 5 easy steps | www.globalmunchkins.com

Do you have any tips for earning frequent flyer miles? I would love to hear them. Have a question?? Ask me in the comments and I will respond to you personally via email.

 

 

 

14 Comments

  • Maya says:

    Oh great tips! Thank you for the airline recommendations in particular! I found this very helpful!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I am so happy to hear my article was helpful to you. It’s made such a huge difference in the amount of times we can travel per year. Hoping it helps others as well.

  • I am not very familiar with frequent flyer miles, but now that I have started a travel blog I am hoping I can travel more. I made sure to pin this for later! 🙂

  • LOVE THIS! I seriously need to learn more about FFM. I’m really hoping to travel more in the future and will definitely be looking into one of these cards. pinned!

  • Brittany says:

    Great tips!! I can’t believe how many people don’t use miles. I love my barclaycard!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      I know… I think people think it is just too hard. I am hoping if I can walk them through it more people can get out there and see the world. Barclay is a great card!!

  • Melai says:

    We almost have the same post. 🙂

    I also use credit cards to earn miles. Unfortunately, Chase Sapphire is only available in US, it’s seems like a great card to start with.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Mama Munchkin says:

      Ha! You know what they say… Great Minds Think Alike 😉 I didn’t realize Chase Sapphire was a US only card. Thank you for pointing that out.

  • I would love to accumulate frequent flyer miles. Thanks for the tips!

  • beth says:

    Awesome, thank you! So clearly written it sounds doable 🙂

  • Vanessa says:

    These are fantastic tips! We just used our chase sapphire card points and united miles to get 6 RT tickets from London to DC! Luckily since we live in AirBNB full time we get to pay all our housing expenses on our cards before paying it right off! That adds up quickly! LOVE that last tip! We’ll be back in the US for a few weeks so I’m going to take advantage of that one! Also the online shopping! I had no idea!!! Thank you!

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