I am a big believer that frequent flyer miles make travel more affordable — but you do NOT have to go crazy collecting or earning miles. Whether you were able to join me at the Frequent Traveler University Expo or not, below are the slides from my presentation.
I’ve tried to include some of my favorite tips and resources below. Please be aware some links on this site are affiliate links, which means I may earn a referral or commission if you make a purchase from my recommendations. Thanks for your support of this site.
Earning Frequent Flyer Miles
There are still a handful of programs that offer you bonus miles just for joining…but most do not.
- Amtrak: 500 Points for Joining and Completing Your First Trip Within 90 Days
- Club Carlson: 2000 Points for Joining and Completing Your First Trip Within 90 Days
- Marriott: 2000 Bonus Points on Your First Stay
- Stash Hotels: 500 Bonus Points On Your First Stay
Track Your Miles: AwardWallet
Shopping Portals: Online Shopping Portals: My Secret for FREE Travel
For cashback, my favorites are TopCashBack, Mr. Rebates, and Ebates
Redeeming Hotel Points
In the long run…I get better value by booking each hotel with cash (at discounted rates that don’t earn rewards). Those savings (20-50% per night) far outweigh the value of a free night or two.
Some thoughts on getting started:
- 8 Strategies to Save on Hotels
- My Secret for Cheap Hotels in Europe
- Why I Use Priceline and When You Should Name Your Own Price
- Use Airbnb to Save Money on Vacation
- SnapTravel (the newest service I’m using)
Redeeming Airline Miles – Flexible (Transferable) Programs
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Transferable to Aer Lingus, Air France, British Airways, Iberian Air, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic + Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott Hotels
Frequently regarded as the BEST rewards credit card (and one of my favorites): Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa
American Express Membership Rewards
Transferable to Aeromexico, Aeroplan, Air France, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, Asia Miles, British Airways, Delta, El Al, Emirates, Etihad, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia, JetBlue, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic + Choice, Hilton, and SPG hotels
Citi Thank You Points
Transferable to Air France, Asia Miles, Avianca, EVA Air, Etihad Guest, Garuda Indonesia, JetBlue, Jet Privilege, Malaysia, Qantas, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Turkish Air, Virgin Atlantic + Hilton hotels
Starwood Preferred Guest
Transferable to Aegean, Aeromexico, Aeroplan, Air China, Air New Zealand, Alaska, Alitalia, ANA, American, Amtrak, Asia Miles, Asiana, Avianca Lifemiles, British Airways, China Eastern, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Gol, Hainan, Hawaiian, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean, Latam, Lufthansa, Qatar, Saudi Arabian, Singapore, Thai, United, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia
If you’re willing to learn the ins and outs of lesser-known programs, SPG can lead to tremendous value. Realistically, I find it nearly impossible to earn SPG points unless you have the SPG Amex.
Redeeming Frequent Flyer Miles – Digging Deeper
Learning the rules and caveats to airline programs takes time, patience, and curiosity.
Please remember that some bloggers, group members, and forum regulars take frequent flyer miles WAY beyond what’s covered here…but you can just be normal people and fly for free, too.