There are a lot of easy ways to save money when planning a flight, but many people don’t know the low-down on how to save. Taking advantage of loyalty programs to reap the rewards of frequent flyer miles is just one way to save dough.
At UsingMiles.com, we have been compiling information on the best ways to earn frequent flyer miles, manage loyalty accounts and even get free upgrades and miles. In this blog we’re unveiling the tricks of the trade that frequent flyers and travelers know and love.
1.Join a loyalty program that suits your needs and keep it organized
The easiest, cheapest and most widely used method for getting discounted flights is by signing up with a loyalty program and taking advantage of credit card promotions. Airline and Credit Card companies want to keep you as a long time customer and they reward their members with free miles and a mile earning system based on your spending.
Most of the time getting the best benefits will be a matter of reading the fine print. Offers are always made to look good, so check out what’s in the details to really understand how to maximize your earnings.
The United Mileage Plus credit card, for instance, offers up to 40,000 miles for signing up . In the fine print it’s explains that in order to get these points you must fulfill a few spending requirements and, as in most cases, you’ll have to maintain an active account.
You can get started choosing a Rewards Credit Card here. You can browse the “point guy’s” top deals or sort your options by airplane, hotel, cash back or other rewards!
There are many similar deals online so you might want to take some time to compare each one to choose a card that suits your needs.
2. Frequent Flyer Programs
If you already fly a lot then you should take advantage of one of the many frequent flyer programs.
Each time you fly, you will be earning free miles so if you fly frequently, you can start racking up the points quickly. Earn enough miles and you could receive “elite level” bonuses!
Once you start to collect enough programs you will definitely want to have a solid system for keeping organized (we suggest give UsingMiles.com a try).
3. Be flexible, dress nicely and show up early
Flights are carefully planned and often carefully overbooked! Airlines know that 10% of their customer base won’t show up at all, taking advantage of compensated, next-day flights.
Though it’s much more difficult to get a random upgrade these days, you improve your chances by dressing in “business casual” attire and traveling alone. Airlines will upgrade a well-dressed, solo traveler more often than anyone else, although this rarely matters in the United States anymore. However, internationally, dressing well still matters.
4. Volunteer to give up your seat on overbooked flights
If you’re on an overbooked flight, that is, if the 10% expected no-shows actually show up, then you can sacrifice your ticket for free vouchers. Your best bet is to simply say that you will give up your ticket if needed.
Not only will you still have your original ticket, which typically puts you on the next plane out and only causes you to arrive an hour later, now you also from $300-$500 worth of free miles to boot! This trick is especially effective during peak travel dates or in airports where there is historically bad weather during winter months (think Chicago O’Hare).
5. Look for two-for-one deals and Business Fares
If you search specifically for deals, you will be rewarded. The easiest way to find these promotions? Visit your local search engine.
Promotional deals can be tied to sweepstakes, competitions, online surveys, etc. If you enter enough, chances are you will eventually “win a trip”.
This tip isn’t probably not for the normal frequent flyer type who shuffles from meeting to meeting but rather people who want to eventually win a trip can fill out promotional giveaways in their spare time. Those who make it their goal to win a trip often also end up with a bunch of other free stuff from runner-up prizes.
Beware, however, these promotions are worthwhile for companies because they take and use the information you provide them. Keeping a separate e-mail for spam (and a P.O. Box for the hardcore sweepstakers) is a also good idea if you go this route.
Do you have good tips for travel? Let us know and we’ll add them to our upcoming blogs on Tricks of the Travel Trade!