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Travel Tip: Making the Most of Airline Rewards Programs

Only recently have I put effort toward really racking up airline points so I can travel for free. I’m currently working toward getting all or most of my ticket to Provence for another yoga retreat in the fall covered by points, so I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I wanted to share a few tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

1. Sign Up for ONE Rewards Credit Card

Signing up for just one concentrates all your efforts into racking up points for that card. I have Capital One Venture Rewards, and I’ve heard good things about Chase Freedom. There are often promotions where you will get thousands of bonus points within a few months if you make $X in transactions, so shop around until you get the best deal.

What I like about Capital One is that I can either book reward travel using my points or use points to erase travel-related purchases. So if I have enough points to erase my plane ticket expense, it’s free!

2. Join All Airline Rewards Programs…But Focus on One

Again, if you put all your efforts into one rewards program, you’ll reap benefits sooner. I used to be brand agnostic with airlines, booking whatever was cheaper, but now I focus on United and its affiliates so I can earn miles enough to actually use. Still, it’s handy to have rewards accounts when you do need to take a different airline.

3. Look for Other Opportunities to Earn Points

I like United’s Mileage Plus because there are many ways to earn points:

So if I’m going to buy something online, I go to the MileagePlus Shopping page to see if there’s a link to buy through that site. I get points (sometimes multiple per dollar spent) for buying what I would have bought anyway. With the dining program, you register your credit cards, and whenever you dine at partner restaurants, you get points. And I’ve always been a survey taker, but I’ve gotten aggressive at working on the sites that will give me United points!

4. Follow Airline Rewards Blogs

This is a new tip for me, but when I was in Poland with the fabulous travel writers, they clued me into a few sites that are worth checking out to stay on top of special offers for rewards credit cards and points:

That’s it! If you are dedicated to the process, you can slowly rack up points. Make sure you always enter your rewards number when booking a flight!

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