It can sometimes feel like every friend and acquaintance you know is traveling the globe year-round. However, before you get discouraged by the glitzy vacation photos, remember that many people are probably taking advantage of a flight points program, saving them a ton of money. You can start accumulating flight points anytime through programs that make lush cross-continental travel and domestic trips cheap and easy. Here’s a quick primer on how to get started earning flight points.
Just like countries have different currencies, loyalty programs use various systems of redeemable rewards. These forms of “airline currency” are often referred to as “points” or “miles,” and can be redeemed for rewards, such as discounted travel fare, hotel accommodations, and even gift cards. Many of these systems go one for one, which means that one point often equals one mile, though the redemption system of each loyalty program may vary.
Flight points, like hotel points, are specific to one airline or airline alliance. While you can usually join as many flight loyalty program points as you want, the best way to rack up flight points quickly is to take advantage of just one or two and book all your flights through them.
Points and miles can fall into three categories:
• Fixed Value Points: These points are fixed rates in value, such as one point equal to $1 in a particular loyalty system. This system is straightforward, with points exchanged for the same limited rewards rather than changing value.
• Variable Value: This system does not limit points to a specific monetary value. Most often found with hotel and airline reward systems, both variable value points and the actual monetary value will fluctuate over time.
• Transferable Points: These points can be applied to other reward systems. For example, certain credit cards can transfer points or miles to another participating credit card.
Invest in a Credit Card That’s Right for You
Experts agree that the best way to build up flight points is to get a credit card associated with an airline. These credit cards work by accumulating points or miles for everyday purchases, such as gas or groceries. In general, the average user earns one mile for every dollar spent. Users can also earn other rewards, such as discounted flights and seat upgrades. Most of these credit cards will also offer a sign-up bonus with many points — 50,000, 60,000, or even 100,000. These sign-up bonuses typically require customers to spend a certain amount of money in a short period to activate, so make sure you can hit that amount before signing up. Otherwise, the credit card fees may not be worth it.
Take Advantage of Shopping Portals
Another way to build up credit card points is by shopping on your credit card’s shopping portal, which offers discounts, free shipping, and additional points and miles on purchases from select brands and stores.
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