Top ways to earn airline miles

words Al Woods

ways to earn airline miles

Airline miles are also known as travel points or frequent flyer miles. They work just like any other rewards program – you collect airline miles by flying or spending money on your airline miles credit card.

Over time, these points will accumulate and you will be able to use them to get certain services for free. Apart from landing free flights, you can also swap your airline miles for package holidays, airport parking, airport lounge access, flight upgrades, and so forth.

Here are a few tried and tested steps to take when collecting frequent flyer miles.

Sign up for a Frequent Flyer Program

Any airline has a frequent flyer program you should register with. You don’t need to have a massive salary or travel often to sign up for one of these programs. It will benefit you in multiple ways. Once you sign up, you will receive an account number you can use when booking flights in the future. Logically, you earn points for each flight you book and, when you collect enough of them, you can use them to get a free flight. The miles you will earn per flight depend on the flight you book (e.g. your booking class or distance to your destination).  That’s why you should choose a few airlines and stay loyal to them to collect your points faster.

earn airline miles

Choose Alliance Members

The majority of big airlines belong to the three major alliances – Star Alliance, Sky Team, and Oneworld. Therefore, once you choose your preferred airline and sign up with their frequent flyer program, you should also check what alliance they belong to. Pay attention to what other members of the alliance are, as well. You can find this information on the site of your preferred airline. This is important to know, as you will have the opportunity to collect, combine, and redeem airline miles when flying any partner airline.

Pick your Credit Card Reasonably

You can earn airline miles by choosing the right credit card. In this case, you get points based on the money you spend. Moneysmart recently compared popular Asia miles credit card options and emphasized that their availability depends on users’ income.

If you’re a fresh graduate and you have an inconsistent income, chances are you won’t be eligible for some advanced credit card options. However, there is a plentitude of credit cards that may ideal for your limited budget. For example, Citi Rewards Credit Card is ideal for customers making in-store purchases, while the BOC i-card is designed for those that want to collect miles by buying online. Both credit cards are available to users with the minimum annual salary of HK$150,000.

Those with above-average incomes have more opportunities when choosing air miles credit cards. In this case, you will be eligible for more credit card options with various spending categories and conversion rates. For example, Standard Chartered Asia Miles Mastercard is perfect for using dining services to collect airline miles. It provides automatic mile conversion ($4 per 1 Asia mile), meaning that your miles will be automatically transferred to your account for free.

No matter what credit card you choose, keep in mind that this is a regular credit card. Therefore, check terms and conditions, choose the card with a rewards program that benefits you, and always make sure you can afford it. 

ways to earn air miles

Open a New Bank Account

If you’re just starting off and you want to earn airline miles fast, you should considerer opening a checking account. To attract new users, banks offer them thousands of miles (how many miles you will get depends on your income). Alternatively, you can get more miles if you refer a friend and they also create a new bank account. Similar to using an airline credit card, when opening a bank account, make sure you read the terms and conditions, as there will be certain account management fees you will need to pay.

Visit Airline Shopping Malls

Many airlines have online shopping malls. Some of them are Delta SkyMiles Shopping, Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping, American AAdvantage eShopping, the Hilton Honors Shop-to-Earn Mall, etc. Therefore, by buying at the airline’s online shop, you will earn bonus points. Pay attention to big gifting holidays like Valentine’s Day, as that’s when many stores offer massive discounts.

Use an Airline Dining Program

Most airlines offer a dining program. You just need to link your credit card to an airline’s dining program, order food, and start earning points. Some of the most popular airline dining programs are Delta SkyMiles Dining, JetBlue TrueBlue Dining, United MileagePlus Dining, and Alaska Airlines Mileage Dining Plan.

Over to You

The process of earning air miles may seem overwhelming even for an experienced traveler. However, its benefits are lucrative, you must admit.

Remember that you won’t earn air miles just by flying. You need to resort to some alternative tactics, too. The best place to begin is to pick an airline belonging to one of the three key alliances. By flying with the alliance partners, you will earn your miles much faster. You should also create an airline credit card, open a checking account, as well as take advantage of airline shopping and dining programs.

Always consider your priorities and adapt your tactics for collecting airline miles to them.


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