Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m a hoarder. But, no, I don’t have some weird collection of dolls or cats. I hoard miles and I’m here to give you a couple tips on how to do the same.
First off, don’t let one single flight go by without collecting your miles for it. You earned them! I keep track of my miles with a simple spreadsheet that you can download here. This sheet helps me keep track of my usernames, passwords, and mileage for each airline.
HOW TO CREATE YOUR MILES CHART
1. Prioritize your airlines: This list will depend on your location. I live in Minneapolis, and so fly Delta most often. Keep the airlines you use the most at the top of the list and try to fly with them when you can to get the miles. Also include any credit card rewards programs you’re a member of. Towards the bottom of the list record that random carrier you flew with to visit that second cousin three years ago – if that airline doesn’t take part in any alliances, you can still buy magazines or gift cards with those miles before they expire.
2. Sign up for airlines’ online access: There is no way I’m going to lie about it – this step can be a huge pain! A lot of times you’re given an account number associated with your name the first time you fly with an airline. If you’ve managed to keep this somewhere, you’re ahead of the game. Otherwise you’ll have to call, wait on hold forever, and track it down. Sometimes navigating through their site can be the easiest way. All said and done, what you need to end up with is a list of usernames, account numbers and passwords to record on your miles chart.
HOW TO RECORD YOUR MILES
1. Know your alliances: Good ‘ol Wikipedia is a great resource for this and in my experience stays pretty up to date. Alliances do change, and that’s why I had you make your list based on airlines instead. Like I mentioned before, try to fly with the main airlines you use most often. If there was that ticket out there on some other airline that was $100 cheaper than all the rest and you just couldn’t resist, don’t worry. Check and see if it’s in alliance with any of your main airlines and you can most likely get that ticket credited to your account there.
2. Check your ticket: Make sure your flyer number is recorded on your airline ticket. If not, ask your gate attendant to add it (now you’ll have that nifty miles chart to help you keep track of those account numbers!).
3. Save your ticket stubs and check back: Set a reminder on your calendar for about a month after your trip. Look up your account online – if you don’t see your miles registered call in and get credit for them using your old ticket stubs. Keep following up until you see them registered.
4. Use them before they expire: Periodically go through your miles chart and take stock of how many miles you’ve got and when they expire. Like I mentioned before, if you don’t have enough miles for a flight, at least use the miles for magazines before they expire.
THE BEST WAY TO REDEEM YOUR MILES
1. Evaluate: Now that you’ve got your miles all organized, use them! Make sure it’s worth it though – you might want to spend $200 on a domestic flight if that means you can save 25,000 miles for an international flight (to South America?) down the road. And when it comes to transferring miles (ie. from your husband to yourself), if you can do it for free like with US Bank’s Flexperks, it’s a no brainer. If you have to pay to transfer the miles though, take time to do the calculation. Sometimes transferring the miles can cost more than the actual ticket would have.
2. Search online: If you’ve got fairly flexible dates, use a site like kayak.com (my favorite) to figure out when the cheapest days to fly are. Even though you’re using miles, you’ll often be charged less miles on a day that’s cheaper to travel on.
3. Purchase your flight: Return to your airline’s reward center online access and make the purchase. Now you’re on your way!
Un Beso, Tara