Flights and Points | A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Air Miles
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A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Air Miles

beginner's guide to frequent flyer miles

A Beginner’s Guide to Collecting Air Miles

Whether you fly as part of your job or you love to get away to far-off places frequently, there’s no getting around the fact that air travel can get expensive over time.

Fortunately, there are programs out there that reward you for spending money with them by showering you with points that can be used in the place of cash. Whether you want to experience flying in first class or you simply want to reduce your travel expenses, learning how to build up air miles is a way to achieve both of these goals. Below, we’ll show you how you can amass an unreal amount of miles/points as quickly as possible.

Sign up for every loyalty program you qualify for

beginner's guide to frequent flyer miles

Most airlines have a loyalty program that will reward you for flying with them on an ongoing basis. Similarly, major hotel chains also have these schemes, so surf around on their websites or ask a customer service representative if they have a loyalty rewards program. They shouldn’t cost you anything but five minutes of your time, and you’ll start accruing points/miles with the next flight/room you book. 

Pick a credit card with mileage rewards

beginner's guide to frequent flyer miles

While signing up with the aforementioned programs should be the first step you take, the majority of the miles you’ll rack up will be done through everyday spending. This means signing up for a credit card that offers points/miles for your specific airline, or in a program that spans multiple carriers. There are many offers available, so don’t rush into an arrangement with a bank just because you’ve been doing business with them for years. Some have sign-up offers that offer tens of thousands of points, but they might require a minimum spend to unlock over a set time period. Other cards will allow you to accrue extra points if you spend money with designated partners within their loyalty program. Find out who is covered (example: specific grocery chains) and shift your spending so you can earn as many miles/points as possible.


Set a savings goal for the miles you will be acquiring

Now that you have all your point/mile collection mechanisms set up, you’ll be able to earn your way to free flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and more.

However, if you really want to supercharge your efforts, it helps to have a goal in mind. If you want to visit Europe in six months and want to fly first class, for example, you’ll be more motivated to grab as many miles as you can than if you are just passively collecting them throughout everyday spending. When you are dedicated to making a dream come true, you’ll be committed to researching point/mile earning strategies so you’ll get to that magic number faster.


Charge as much as possible on your card every month

We won’t leave you to figure out these strategies on your own, though – to earn your way to an account overflowing with air miles, you’ll want to change your spending habits so you are using your points credit card as frequently as possible.

This may make some followers of money guru Dave Ramsay queasy, but as long as you are paying off your balance in full every month, you won’t be doing anything that will wreck your finances.

In fact, not carrying a balance is mandatory to make this strategy work, as paying interest to your credit card company will quickly negate any benefit you get from charging expenses to your points card. Also, take care not to use your card at merchants who charge a percentage fee for using credit, as these penalties will cancel out any benefits earned from earning miles.


Hunt down deals and take advantage of them whenever possible

While there are retailers that will allow you to earn miles at a multiple over the usual amount earned per dollar spent, be on the lookout for deals that will allow you to stockpile a tons of points for purchasing specific items.

These deals are often found at grocery stores, which offer a certain amount of miles for buying items in bulk, or purchasing a branded item on sale.

There are dining programs that are aligned with airline loyalty programs – find out who they are and sign up for them. By eating out at indicated restaurants, you’ll be able to earn you miles at a multiple for every dollar you spend. Additionally, the e-commerce portals of major retailers may also be aligned with these programs. Spend an evening doing your research, and adjust spending habits accordingly.


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