International air travel is the gold standard of mileage points. While most of us think of “Frequent flyer Miles” as a reward for frequent domestic travel, you can really rack up the mileage points during those round trips to China, Thailand, or Japan. In fact, a close look at most airline policies shows that they don’t have “frequent flyer programs”, they have “mileage programs”, or “air bonus programs”.
Many airlines have changed their restrictions on the use and the method of earning frequent flyer mileage points. If you are an old pro at using frequent flyer mileage, log on to your favorite airline’s website and be sure to check out the latest in their rules and regulations. The rules may have changed. A large percentage of frequent flyer points never get redeemed, largely because of the confusion over the rules, and the restrictions on flight times. If you want to get a free flight, you’ll have to be flexible—chances are, you won’t be able to fly at peak times. Besides blackout dates being applied to frequent flyer purchases, many airlines also restrict the number of seats on each plane that can be bought with the bonus points. As a result, if more than a few other people with large stashes of points have the same travel plans as you, then you need to beat them to the punch before the airline shuts the door on you.
You can still find deals, and frequent flyer mileage still gets you rewards, but you may have to work harder for the benefits and be more careful not to blow it by waiting too long to redeem your frequent flyer points or rewards.
Many airlines for example, have begun to implement expiration policies, which may take away all those miles if you haven’t had any activity in a certain period of time. Although the expiration policy varies, it is common for points to expire in 18 or 24 months.
Credit card companies may offer the easiest way to stash miles for frequent flyer travel rewards. Even if you’re not planning a trip, you can bankroll mileage points simply by applying for and using specific credit cards. These credit card mileage deals are not sponsored directly by airlines, but are offered as benefits from the credit card companies themselves. Special organizations that sponsor credit cards may also promote mileage benefits. Be aware though, that those credit card bonuses only look free—credit cards that include special benefits and rewards often carry a higher rate of interest. If you’re looking for the best interest rate on a credit card, you won’t get the extras—but if you carry a low balance and pay it off regularly, the interest rate is of less consequence, and this can be a good way to get extra frequent flyer points.
Today, there are many sources for getting mileage points. By shopping around you can be a savvy flyer and accumulate air mileage points and bonuses that cut the cost of tickets, offer free or reduced flight deals to faraway places, and make the best use of mileage points already earned.