Thanks to Capital One for sponsoring this publish.
Frequent Flyer Miles
My relationship with frequent flyer miles modified eternally round 6pm on February 16, 1999. Up till then, I hadn’t paid a lot consideration to my airline-based mileage accounts. I flew internationally a few times a yr, and had a mileage incomes bank card, however by no means considered my account balances or the journey prospects. That chilly and darkish February night time I used to be working late and a music about flying got here on the radio. I glanced outdoors and thought: I have to fly away! And I have to fly away to someplace that’s the other of Colorado in February – someplace sunny and heat.
I instantly considered Australia. Reverse hemisphere. Summer time. After which I considered my frequent flyer account. I went house, discovered my most-recent paper assertion, and noticed that sure, I had sufficient miles to get to Australia. I booked a ticket instantly and flew down every week later, stopping in New Zealand first earlier than touring on to Melbourne and Sydney.
That journey opened my eyes to the chances of frequent flyer miles. In any case, a last-minute ticket would have been costly, and I used to be capable of journey to 2 new nations – and a brand new continent – for free. I instantly began maximizing my mileage earnings. I did some mileage runs – flights the place the worth of the miles exceeded the worth of the ticket – however actually I modified my spending habits. I began charging completely all the things potential to my mileage incomes bank card, together with my firm’s giant month-to-month phone payments.
Earlier than I knew it, I used to be touring throughout for free. China. Thailand. A number of journeys to Africa with pals. And I’ve stored going after getting married and having youngsters. Mileage runs are not possible, as most airways now tie mileage earnings to ticket costs, however my youngsters and my spouse and I all have a number of frequent flyer accounts (at the least one with an airline in every main alliance), and we get miles for the whole lot that we cost.
What has modified is how we spend the miles. I was completely joyful redeeming miles for worldwide financial system class tickets. I simply needed to journey for free! Now we redeem miles for worldwide enterprise class tickets, and use miles for upgrades, as enterprise class bookings and upgrades usually supply the perfect worth.
If all of this nonetheless appears overseas, and you’ve got numerous questions after studying this opening, don’t fear! Listed here are my prime ideas for benefiting from frequent flyer miles as properly.
Take a look at Your Journey Want Record
You’re going to need to arrange frequent flyer accounts with the correct airways to satisfy your wants. So how do you select?
First, the place do you reside? What airways are handy for you, or what airways do you already fly on?
Second, the place do you need to go? That is necessary. There are three giant airline alliances: Oneworld; SkyTeam; and Star Alliance. You’ll be able to journey virtually anyplace on the earth inside any of the alliances, however some are stronger than others in several areas and particular nations. As I discussed above, all of us have at the very least one frequent flyer account in every alliance. You simply don’t need much more accounts than that. It’s good to have sufficient accounts so that you simply’re incomes miles with each flight and consolidating them to some extent, however if in case you have too many accounts open it’s going to be more durable to construct up sufficient miles in any of them to earn free journey.
And don’t restrict your self to home carriers. In case your aim is to journey to Europe, a frequent flyer account with a European service might take advantage of sense. And if an airline is a part of an alliance, you’ll have the ability to e-book tickets utilizing their miles even on routes that they don’t fly – e.g. with a Cathay Pacific frequent flyer account you possibly can ebook award tickets on some other Oneworld airline (topic to availability).
Earn Miles All over the place You Can
In fact you’ll earn miles from flying, however on an on a regular basis foundation, nothing beats having a mileage-earning bank card. The most effective card on the market proper now’s Capital One Enterprise (and it’s not simply my opinion – CNBC agrees). The cardboard has an annual charge of $95/yr (free for the primary yr), you earn 50,000 miles if you spend $three,000 within the first three months, you earn 2 miles for each greenback you spend on all purchases, and there’s a credit score of as much as $100 whenever you use the cardboard to pay for both your International Entry or TSA PreCheck software. I additionally love that there are not any overseas transaction charges.
The actual worth of the cardboard comes once you need to redeem miles for free journey. And this goes again to my final level – the place do you need to go? Capital One has two choices to cowl you regardless:
Direct Mileage Redemption
Capital One allows you to apply your collected miles to any of your current journey bills, at a fee of $zero.01 per mile, primarily erasing the purchases. So when you have 100,000 miles in your account, and you’ve got a $1,000 aircraft ticket, you possibly can log into your Capital One account, choose the expense, apply the miles, and instantly see a $1,000 credit score in your account. That is good and easy, and works properly for journey bills that aren’t flight-based (e.g. practice tickets, taxi rides, lodge stays), in addition to for flights that you simply bought as a result of a ticket utilizing frequent flyer miles wasn’t obtainable in your dates, or as a result of it’s essential buy the ticket with a view to earn elite-qualifying miles.
Transfers to Airline Companions
However you can even switch your Capital One miles to your frequent flyer account with 15 airways (Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alitalia, Avianca, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, Finnair, Flying Blue (Air France and KLM), Hainan, Qantas, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airways). The mileage switch price varies a bit of relying on which airline associate you’re transferring to. This is sensible every time there’s frequent flyer ticket availability with the airline the place you’re getting greater than $zero.01/mile in worth. So how do you identify worth? Learn on.
Maximize the Worth of Your Miles
For me, the important thing to redeeming frequent flyer miles is to calculate what they’re value, after which make selections accordingly. Some examples:
- Final yr for spring break we have been planning on touring from Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile. And since it was an in a single day flight, I needed to journey in enterprise class. The tickets have been pricing at $four,200 every. However I used to be capable of get 5 tickets for 110,000 miles every. four,200/110,000 = $zero.038/mile.
- In March I’m touring to Berlin for a convention. Enterprise class tickets for the precise dates I need to journey are $5,600, however I used to be capable of get a ticket utilizing 140,000 miles. 5,600/140,000 = $zero.04/mile.
Financial system class tickets usually don’t supply the identical worth, however additionally they require fewer miles.
- In January my daughter and I are flying to Colorado to go snowboarding. Tickets are $363 every, or $726 complete. As an alternative I redeemed 59,000 miles. 726/59,000 = $zero.zero12/mile. That’s not an ideal worth, however there’s an opportunity that we’ll have to cancel the journey. With my airline standing, if we cancel I can get the miles refunded to me with no penalty. So the pliability makes it well worth the decrease worth.
- A typical ticket from the US to Italy on Alitalia, one among Capital One’s companion airways, is 60,000 miles. Taking a look at non-budget-airline fares for random dates in April 2019, tickets common $800 from Los Angeles to Rome. 800/60,000 = $zero.013/mile. And through busier journey seasons, if there’s award ticket availability, the worth might be larger because you’ll be utilizing the identical variety of miles for a costlier ticket.
Or cut up the distinction. We’ll typically guide enterprise class for the in a single day portion of an itinerary (e.g. flying to Europe) however financial system class again.
- Final yr I booked two tickets from Los Angeles to Florence, Italy and again for 100,000 miles every – half in enterprise and half in coach. The tickets have been pricing at $2,800 every. 2,800/100,000 = $zero.028/mile.
There’s actually no exact formulation. Everybody wants to find out the worth that he/she needs to get from a ticket. However there would not often be a cause to get lower than $zero.01/mile in worth, given you can all the time use Capital One’s buy eraser at $zero.01/mile. Notice: when figuring out worth, keep in mind that frequent flyer tickets even have taxes and costs, they usually don’t earn miles.
I’m proof that it’s attainable to fly everywhere in the world utilizing frequent flyer miles. We’ve earned, and redeemed, hundreds of thousands of miles through the years. The incomes is the straightforward half. Get a bank card like Capital One Enterprise the place you get miles for each buy, and benefit from promotions as properly. This yr, by means of the Capital One/Motels.com partnership, I’ve earned a further 60,000+ miles by means of reserving my lodge stays at resorts.com/enterprise. The redemption of miles might be extra difficult. Nicely, it’s straightforward to use miles to your Capital One journey purchases. However in case you’re prepared to place a bit extra work into it, and be versatile in your journey dates, you possibly can probably get extra worth by transferring your miles to Capital One’s airline companions.
I’d love to listen to from you! What’s the most effective worth you’ve gotten out of your frequent flyer miles? And do you’ve got ideas that I haven’t included?