How to Earn Air Miles and Points for Free Flights (Air Miles Programs & Credit Cards)

© 2017 YaninaTravels

Last Updated: March 2018

Frequent and on a budget traveling requires smart planning. It’s not that difficult as it sounds for as long as you are organized and detail oriented!
Becoming a member of airline miles programs and applying for miles credit cards associated with them, which offer bonus miles for spending a certain amount of money within certain period of time, is part of that smart planning. This will help you with using those miles towards free airplane tickets or when paying for a ticket, earning even more miles for future travels.
Your choice of which air miles programs to join, depends primary on your travel destination interests. If your future travel plans are targeted towards the Caribbean, then you should join Jet Blue, Delta and/or American Airlines. If you are planning trips primary to Europe, you should join United Airlines. In any case joining United is a smart move you can make, since they fly almost everywhere around the world and offer an excellent air miles program.

Tips for managing your Air Miles Credit Cards:

1. Make it simple, safe and smart. One credit card at a time! Apply for it, spend the money you need to in order to receive the bonus miles the company gives you, pay it in full, get your miles, then after some time you can apply for another card and repeat the same process.

2. Keep track of when your miles credit card annual fee is due. There are just a few out there with no annual fee. I put calendar reminders for those due dates on my iPhone. Usually the first year the annual feel for most miles credit cards is waived. When the time to pay the first annual fee approaches, make a decision if you want to keep that card and if it’s worth keeping it. If not, call the company and close the card before the annual fee is due. For example- I never close my United MileagePlus Explorer Card and it’s my primary credit card since it gives me miles for every dollar I spend on it and can be used for travel almost everywhere in the world.

3. Check if the random air company you are flying with last moment and you are not a member of, is a partner with any of the air companies you are member with, since that gives you an opportunity to redeem your miles. For example- if you are a United Airlines MileagePlus member and you end up flying with Austrian Airlines, fill in your frequent flyer number when booking the ticket or if you forgot to do it, you can always contact United Airlines later on and give them your Austrian Airlines flight numbers to redeem your miles.

4. Carry with you the credit card, associated with the air company you are flying with and use it to pay for any air related fees. For example- if you fly with Jet Blue, use the Jet Blue credit card to pay for your ticket or for the service fee for your ticket purchased with miles, since you accumulate more miles that way and also gives you eligibility for free of charge checked in 1st bag.

5. Check with the air company if the miles your earned have expiration date. Most usually don’t, but some do.

6. Put a sticky note on the back of each of your mileage credit cards with the following info: date of opening the account, credit line, how much you need to spend in order to receive the miles and by what date, how many miles you will be receiving, date to expect the miles to be posted on your frequent flyer account. To organize all my travel cards, I use a great value Marshal Genuine Leather Bi-fold Card Holder, purchased by Amazon.

7. Download the apps for the air companies you became member of and organize them in a folder named ‘Travel’ on your smart phone. Makes it so much easier to book flights directly from your phone, checking in for flights and to keep track of miles balances with each one of them.

The Travel folder on my iPhone

My Favorite Air Miles Programs and Credit Cards:

1. UNITED AIRLINES: excellent card to apply for if you plan traveling to Europe and everywhere else; spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, you will receive 30,000 bonus miles good for free one-way ticket to Europe; add an authorized card user and earn additional 5,000 bonus points.
*Become a United Mileage member and then fill in your member # when applying for the credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

2. JET BLUE AIRLINES: the best card to apply for if you plan traveling to the Caribbean; spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, you will receive 30,000 bonus points good for at least one free round trip to the Caribbean.
*Become a Jet Blue member and then fill in your member # when applying for the credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

3. DELTA AIRLINES: spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, you will receive 30,000 bonus miles and $50 statement credit; good for a free round trip to the Caribbean; also this card can be used for travel to Europe and within the US.
*Become a Delta Airlines member and then fill in your member # when applying for their credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

4. HAWAIIAN AIRLINES: spend $1,000 within the first 3 months, you will receive 35,000 bonus miles, good for free round trip to Hawaii.
*Become a Hawaiian Airlines member and then fill in your member # when applying for their credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

5. SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: great for travel to New Orleans and everywhere else in the US; spend $2,000 within the first 3 months, receive 50,000 bonus miles; this is at least one free round trip to New Orleans and elsewhere in the US.
*Become a Southwest Airlines member and then fill in your member # when applying for their credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

6. ALASKA AIRLINES: great for travel to Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, Costa Rica and everywhere else in the US; spend $1,000 within the first 3 months and receive 30,000 bonus miles; this is about one free round trip to any of the above mentioned destinations or elsewhere in the US.
*Become an Alaska Airlines member and then fill in your member # when applying for their credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

7. AMERICAN AIRLINES: great for travel everywhere; I used it for travel to Costa Rica; spend $2,500 within the first 3 months and receive 50,000 bonus miles, good for about two free round trips.
*Become an American Airlines member and then fill in your member # when applying for their credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

8. AVIANCA AIRLINES: great for travel to South America; I used it for travel to Peru; earn 40,000 bonus LifeMiles after first time card use (you can buy just one coffee) and after you pay the annual fee of $149; the miles are good for a free round trip anywhere in South America.
*Become a LifeMiles member and then fill in your member # when applying for Avianca’s credit card
Membership Application
Credit Card Application

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