This is a blog about earning and redeeming frequent flyer miles to travel more, better, and cheaper.
I live a transient lifestyle, flying around the world sometimes in economy, but often in Business or First Class, on a budget because I know the tricks to getting tons of miles without flying and redeeming them as efficiently as possible. Whether you want to take a dream honeymoon, a family vacation, a round-the-world trip, or even just get a free flight home for Christmas, read this blog and you’ll find out how.
If the thought of getting started seems intimidating, don’t worry. You’re not the only one that feels that way.
- First, sign up to receive one free emails, no more than one a day, with all of the day’s posts–expert free-travel advice featured in the New York Times, Marketwatch, and other news sources. You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.
- Start by reading Travel for Pennies with Miles to get excited about the possibilities when collecting miles. Pretty cool, huh? I get most of my miles from credit card sign up bonuses. Check out this list of the top ten credit cards that I update twice a month and apply for a card or two.
- Check out our Free Credit Card Consultation service–fill out the form here with some basic information and we’ll recommend cards that earn travel rewards that serve your specific travel goals.
- If you manage to earn the miles but then get flustered trying to spend them efficiently, use our Award Booking Service. You send us your miles and points balances and where/when you want to go, and we do all the hard work for you.
- Next check out my beginners’ series: Free First Class Next Month.
Below is a series of informative posts for beginners.
- The Beginners Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles and Points (Introduction)
- Signing Up For Travel Loyalty Programs and Award Wallet
- Introduction to Travel Credit Cards
- Best Current Credit Card Offers
- Transferable Points Program Basics
- Earning Miles from Flying
- Shopping Portals
- Manufactured Spending
- You Can Earn Miles Doing Anything
- Don’t Let Your Miles Expire
- Airline Mile and Hotel Point Redemption Basics
- Airline Hubs, Alliances, and Award Search Engines
- Basics of Redeeming American Airlines Miles
- Basics of Redeeming United Miles
- Basics of Redeeming Delta Miles
Basics of Redeeming US Airways Miles(this program no longer exists)
- Basics of Redeeming British Airways Avios
- Basics of Redeeming Alaska Airlines Miles
- Basics of Redeeming Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America, and Frontier Miles
- Basics of Redeeming Singapore, Aeroplan, Flying Blue, ANA, Lufthansa, and Korean Miles
- How to Book Complicated Awards with Segment-by-Segment Searching and Wikipedia
- How to Pick the Best Seat with Seat Guru
- Setting Kayak Price Alerts to Always Pay the Lowest Price for Flights
- How and Why to Use Google Flights Price Tracker
- Basics of ITA Matrix to Find Cheap Flights and Fuel Surcharge Info
- Should You Chase Status?
- Cheapskate Lodging with Hotel Promos, Hostels, airbnb, and CouchSurfing
- The One Killer Message to Get Big Discounts on Airbnb
- Name Your Own Price on Priceline to Save Hundreds on Hotels
- Cancelling Cards
The Cards to Open First
If you haven’t picked up on this yet, the easiest way to get tons of miles fast for more travel is by opening numerous credit cards to earn sign up bonuses, increasing your return on spending ten-fold. But don’t get in over your head. Start with a few Chase cards first and get used to managing them. Chase bank issues numerous valuable travel cards, and will cut you off from them once you’ve opened five. None of the other big rewards-card issuing banks have a rule like this, more commonly known as the Chase 5/24 rule. Anyone wanting to maximize their bonus earnings should hit Chase cards first. In the posts below I go over different combos for different types of travelers/consumers.
- The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Combo #1
- The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Combo #2
- The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Combo #3
- The Five Chase Cards You Should Apply For: Bonus Combo for Points Omnivores
Once you’re comfortable managing a few Chase cards, familiarize yourself with the Issuing Banks Rules for Approvals and New Bonuses. The banks that issue the majority of rewards cards with valuable sign up bonuses have rules–structured around which cards and when you signed up– that dictate who is eligible for their cards and sign up bonuses.
The Two Ways to Value Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses: For when you need help deciding between which card to apply for and you want to compare sign up bonuses.
Before going any further…
If you are in debt or can’t control your spending on credit cards, don’t apply for new ones. If you run a balance on your credit cards, the interest will cost you more than the rewards are worth. Only open new cards if you can pay off their balances every month, so you don’t pay interest.
Once you are oriented, here are some more informative posts to bookmark for future use.
Anatomy of an Award: We’ve put dozens of posts in the Anatomy of an Award category. They show step-by-step the process of conceiving and booking actual awards we’ve booked for ourselves or through the Award Booking Service.
Series on how to maximize value when transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to airline partners:
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: United MileagePlus
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Singapore Krisflyer #1
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Singapore Krisflyer #2
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Korean SkyPass #1
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Korean Skypass #2
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Korean Skypass #3
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: British Airways Avios
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Flying Blue
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club #1
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club #2
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Southwest Rapid Rewards
- Maximizing Ultimate Rewards: Wrap Up & Index
Series on how to maximize value when transferring Citi ThankYou Points to airline partners:
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #1: Suites Class for as Little as 32,000 Miles
- Sweetspots with Singapore KrisFlyer Miles #2: Awards on United and Partner Flights
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #1: 10,000 Points USA to Europe
- Sweetspots with Virgin Atlantic Miles #2: Sweetspots on 12 Partner Award Charts
- Sweetspots with Flying Blue Miles: 30,000 Miles Roundtrip to Hawaii
- Sweetspots with Virgin America Points: 35,000 Points Roundtrip to Europe in Flat Bed
- Sweetspots with Etihad Miles: 20,000 Miles One Way to Europe
Series on how to maximize domestic award redemptions:
- Redeeming Your ThankYou Points
- Redeeming Your Ultimate Rewards
- Redeeming Your Membership Rewards
- Redeeming Your Marriott Rewards (previously called SPG Starpoints, they have all the same airline transfer partners plus more)
Series on redeeming American Airlines Miles…
- Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions
- Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles
- Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All Partners
- Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need
- Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges
- Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards
- Part 7 — Redeeming for Hawaii
- Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia
- Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent
- Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand
- Part 11 — Redeeming for South America
- Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe
- Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa
- Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia
- Part 15— Wrap Up & Index
In general, no matter your skill level, you should check back daily to keep growing your skills and to be part of a community of people who all want you to fly for free.