Miles and Points. Points and Miles. It can be very confusing, especially for a beginner. The Little Monsters Guide will help you get started in the world of frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Follow these 10 steps and your points will begin to grow and flourish and you’ll soon be earning and burning miles like a pro.
Create new accounts with all the major airline and hotel loyalty programs. If you think you’ll never use some of the programs, think again! You never know when a mileage special might come out where you need to be a member of a specific loyalty program. Better to be safe than sorry! Below you will find a list with links to the top programs. Once you sign-up, write down your login information.
Included is also whether the airline or hotel is a transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest. These programs allow for points to be transferred to many different airline and hotel partners and are a key factor in obtaining lots of miles. The links to those cards can be found in step 3.
Air Canada Aeroplan (Amex, SPG)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue (Amex)
Alitalia (Amex, SPG)
ANA (Amex, SPG)
British Airways (Amex, Chase, SPG)
Delta (Amex, SPG)
Iberia (Amex, SPG)
Singapore (Amex, SPG)
US Airways (SPG)
Virgin America (Amex)
Virgin Atlantic (Amex, SPG)
Managing all these different mileage and points accounts can get overwhelming. That’s where online mileage manager websites come in. There are several sites such as MileWise.com, Awardwallet.com , Usingmiles.com and Tripit. These sites keep track of all your different accounts and even tell you when your points expire. Use your login information from step one and enter them into your mileage tracking website. We here at Mile Monster use MileWise.com. It’s simple and to the point.
Your credit is one of the most useful tools in the mileage and points world. Credit cards make it possible to earn thousands of miles and points, however; make sure you pay off your balance in full each month and on time! This is very important. If you don’t, the interest charged may very well negate the positive value the points have. These cards come with BIG bonuses for signing up. The banks are willing to give these bonuses away in return for you using their cards. Mile Monster recommends the cards below as of 1/1/12. Before you apply for any of the cards, Mile Monster recommends getting your free annual credit report to make sure all of your accounts are in good standing. It’s free from all three credit agencies once a year. Most banks, however, use FICO scores to determine your creditworthiness. To obtain your official score, go to a website such as TrueCredit.com or Myfico.com. Other sites like CreditSesame.com will give their own estimations of their credit scores. Keep in mind these are not official, but only estimations.
Overall Best Cards as recommend by Mile Monster:
Starwood American Express Key Benefits: 25,000 point sign-up bonus and $65 annual fee waived the first year (10,000 points with first purchase and another 15,000 when you spend $5k within 6 months). Starwood points are extremely valuable because they can be redeemed for hotel stays, including Cash & Points as well as be transferred to over 30 airlines – most at a 1:1 ratio and 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. This is Mile Monsters TOP PICK for a travel rewards card. It offers SO much flexibility.
Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Key Benefits: 40,000 Ultimate Rewards Points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. $95 annual fee waived for the first year. Points transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Korean Airlines, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club and Amtrak. No foreign transaction fees. Mile Monsters SECOND PICK. For places that don’t take American Express, use this card.
American Express Premier Rewards Gold Key Benefits: 15,000 point sign-up bonus when you spend $1,000 within 3 months and $175 annual fee waived for the first year. 3 points per dollar spent on airfare (4x when you book with Amex Travel), 2 points per dollar spent on Gas & Groceries and 1 point for every dollar on everything else. 15,000 point bonus when you hit $30,000 in spend within a calendar year. Foreign transaction fee is 2.7% so do not use this card for purchases outside of the United States.
Capital One Venture Card Key Benefits: 10,000 points with first purchase, which is $250 to be used towards any airline ticket/ hotel room and the $59 annual fee is waived the first year. 2 points earned for every dollar spent on everything and each point can be redeemed for 1 cent towards travel. So 50,000 points = $500 towards travel, plus you earn miles and elite status on all airline tickets and hotels redeemed.
Use your cards! Pay your cable bill with them. Put your groceries on them. If you are paying for something and not using a mileage or points earning card you are missing out! Only use cash or a check if the merchant does not accept credit cards or they are going to charge you more than 2 percent to use the card. This is common for paying your rent/mortgage or a car payment. If you are trying to meet an initial minimum spend requirement you may feel the need to pay the increased merchant fee for a few months while you meet that spend. If the fee is small it is at your discretion.
If you eat out at all then sign up for an airline and hotel dining program. These programs are free to join and once you link your credit cards, you will automatically earn miles and points every time you dine at a participating restaurant. You won’t be able to register the same card in each program so pick one that best suites your program that you will be collecting the most points or miles from. You can sign up for multiple programs but you would need to use a different card in each. Below are a list of the current dining programs:
If you shop online, always shop through one of the shopping portals below. When you click-through one of the online mileage malls you will automatically get points for every dollar you spend. Paying with your mileage earning card tables you to double dip…meaning you earn points from the card and points from the shopping portal as well. Most online retailers are included in the malls and the earning potential can range from and additional 1-30 points! As you can imagine this can add up rather quickly, especially for large purchases and purchases you were already going to make. Never leave miles and points on the table!
American Express: Bonus Points Mall
Chase: Ultimate Rewards Shopping
US Airways: Dividend Miles Shopping Mall
The final four steps involve maintaining and understanding a knowledge of the programs you are involved in.
Stay current! Subscribe to the Mile Monster blog and follow Mile Monster on Facebook and Twitter. New mileage and points earning opportunities happen all the time. There are always new ways to earn airline miles and hotel points. Some last longer than others so make sure you get in on them early.
Familiarize yourself with airline and hotel elite status. Airlines and hotels offer programs for their most valuable customers in return for their loyalty towards the program. If you are flying frequently and staying in hotels often for business you are most likely going to take advantage of these elite status programs. Most all programs offer a 25%-100% bonus on top of points already being earned. You can also expect first class upgrades and suite upgrades for the very top elite programs.
Accruing miles and points is only half of the equation. Familiarize yourself with the tips and tricks of the programs that you are focusing on. Look over the programs rules and redemption options.Visit Mile Monsters post on redemption amounts here.
Go! This is the best part of accruing all these miles and points. How do you want to redeem them? Business or First Class to Thailand for two? Would you rather fly your family of four to San Diego for a week? Each person’s mileage and points “taste” is different. What works for one doesn’t work for the other. Miles and points allow you to travel to places you might not have been able to afford. Once you take your first trip booked on miles or points you will realize why you did this in the first place…and then you’ll start all over!
If you have ANY questions don’t hesitate to contact us. We’ll point you in the right direction.