How to Maximize the Value of Frequent Flier Miles

Southwest Airlines

Frequent flyer programs are one of the best rewards for business travelers—also a terrific practice for free travel. Using a credit card for business should always be done carefully, but there are several ways you can maximize your bonus miles and points. Here are a few examples.

• Choose an airline that has the most flights and destinations from your hometown. There is no point in being in a program that does not include the places you frequently travel to and from.

• Shop around for credit card programs that offer miles for signing up and waives their initial fee. These early rewards can be useful, offering you free flights almost immediately.

• Search out programs for special miles that double or triple the points for frequently traveled routes. Like any complete reward program, a search for the best returns will help you tremendously.

• Use programs linked to hotel room stays. Find hotels that partner with the airlines, and learn how to add miles by staying exclusively at those hotel chains.

• Get extra miles for flying Business Class. Most reward programs include extra points for flying up front, and if you fly more than 25,000 or more miles in a year.

• Make sure all of your work expenses are on the cards that offer you frequent flyer miles. An additional $1000 a month of reimbursable work expenses can get you free airline tickets much faster.

• Use the miles on the most expensive flights—usually on destinations not routinely serviced. Trips to the coast are easy to get cheap flights, but smaller markets can be difficult. The same holds true for international flights, such as the Caribbean.

Pay down your credit cards in a timely manner—points and rewards are great to have, but credit card debt, at 19 to 26 percent interest, is not a pleasant way to earn more miles. By carrying a high debt, you are working against your interests.• Use the miles on the most expensive flights—usually on destinations not routinely serviced. Trips to the coast are easy to get cheap flights, but smaller markets can be difficult. The same holds true for international flights, such as the Caribbean.

Pay down your credit cards in a timely manner—points and rewards are great to have, but credit card debt, at 19 to 26 percent interest, is not a pleasant way to earn more miles. By carrying a high debt, you are working against your interests.

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