(Guest Post by Sunil, from Extra Money Blog)
My wife and I do a lot of traveling and I don’t know why, but recently we started discussing when and where we should be using our frequent flier miles.
In addition to frequent traveling, we take advantage of attractive promotions that give away miles such as credit card offers. As you can imagine, the miles add up quickly, but more importantly spread across multiple carriers which inherently posses a challenge not only in managing what is where, and when it expires, but also when and where to utilize which ones (I purposely did that).
I want to share with you a synopsis of our discussion, including some helpful resources that we have been using along the way. So however little or much you travel, for a budget conscious individual, this could mean stretching your benefit dollars as much as possible.
Because redeeming airline miles for a reasonably mile-priced seat is getting more and more ridiculous these days, most people end up burning their miles on lame upgrades on local flights. A half hour local flight can cost you triple the miles you redeemed for the seat, which itself is likely a high number to begin with.
From our experience travelling to Europe and Asia, we have found that the best bang for your miles can be obtained by redeeming them on flights to destinations overseas. So far we haven’t noticed any seasonality trends, so the general rule appears to apply throughout the year.
Over the years we have come across a few websites to further validate our experience.
- MileWise.com is a website that you can use to get some estimates of how many miles you will have to redeem for travel to certain destinations.
- GoMiles.com is another one that we have recently come across that is pretty good.
Ready for the best part? Provide your account information to these sites and you will automatically be alerted when there are good deals to your destination of choice during the timelines you prefer. They will also notify you when your miles are nearing expiration.
I have been testing this and it works like a charm. I am now looking for an aggregator that can help me manage hotel points, airline miles and car rental credits all in one spot. Anyone know of a good suggestion?
- Key Findings: Southwest is the easiest and most flexible to redeem with, while Delta is a nightmare. You will never get a ticket at a reasonable mileage amount.
- Tip: Because you may find that not all airlines are part of this program, here is a manual tip to ensure you get the best deal. Just because you have made a reservation doesn’t mean you have to keep it. Some airlines allow you to make a change to a seat booked using frequent flier miles easier than if it was paid for by cash.
- Set yourself a weekly reminder to call in and check to see if a low mileage seat has opened up. If so, you can trade yours in and get the remaining miles deposited back into your account.
I hope you found these tips helpful. I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add to a better frequent flier experience!
Sunil owns over a dozen profitable niche websites and is the author of “How to Go from $0 to $1,000 a month in Passive and Residual Income in Under 180 Days All in Your Spare Time”, a FREE report you can download instantly from his blog, where he discusses expedited wealth building through solid personal finance, entrepreneurship and internet marketing. In 2007, he sold his ecommerce website for $250,000 to a top Ebay Power Seller and since then has sold several niche sites for five figures each. You can read more about him on the Money Blog.
(Photo by nathanmac87)