Small business travelers have more ways than ever to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles, but few know all the ways to earn them and how to turn them into bottom-line savings, reported the American Small Business Travelers Alliance (ASBTA). ASBTA is a national, non-profit alliance that provides services and functions focused specifically on the travel needs and interests of small business owners.
“Most business travelers know they can earn frequent flyer miles simply by flying or charging purchases on an airline-partnered credit card, but how many know they can earn miles on a home mortgage or by having their taxes prepared?” said Heather Martin, ASBTA Chief Financial Officer. “Likewise, simply by following a few frequent flyer mile ‘best practices,’ most small businesses could be saving money by redeeming airline miles for products and services they use everyday.”
Best Practice #1: Know All the Options for Earning Miles
American Airlines is just one of several airlines that has partnered with a number of travel service providers to help travelers earn more frequent flier miles using its AAdvantage program. In addition to more traditional methods, such as earning 50 AAdvantage miles per day on an Avis rental car and 500 AAdvantage miles per stay at participating Hilton hotels, members can also earn up to 1,000 AAdvantage miles by having H&R Block manage their tax preparation needs, or 1,000 AAdvantage miles for every $10,000 financed on a new home purchase or refinance with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
“There are dozens of ways to earn airline miles and most people don’t have to change what they’re already doing to earn them,” said Martin. “The trick is simply knowing what companies your frequent flyer program partners with and understanding how to get the miles. In most cases, the frequent flyer program Web site is the best place to start.”
Best Practice #2: Redeem Miles for What You Use Most
Most frequent flyer programs offer members the opportunity to redeem points for more than just flights. Small business owners can take advantage of this by using points toward everything from magazine subscriptions to rewarding employees or clients with a gift of airline miles.
Programs such as AAdvantage and United Mileage Plus also make it possible for members to cash in miles for free car rentals and hotel stays. For instance, AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for free Avis car rentals, with as few as 12,000 miles for three free weekend day rentals or 13,000 miles for two free week day rentals.
Best Practice #3: Take Advantage of Independent Points Programs and Publications
Beyond the airlines’ frequent flyer programs, small business travelers can also take advantage of independent points programs and publications. Programs like The Points Exchange (www.points.com), an online exchange that allows members to combine and exchange points and miles among a variety of loyalty programs, offers travelers another way to maximize frequent flyer miles.
For example, a subscriber to The Points Exchange could exchange 10,000 AAdvantage miles for 4,500 eBay Anything Points, which can be used to pay for eligible items purchased on eBay. (As a general rule, however, programs like points.com tend to seriously devalue miles. We recommend that all options be explored before such a transfer occurs. Check out the “Mileage Converter” at WebFlyer.com).
“The opportunities for small businesses to truly benefit from frequent flier miles are out there, it’s really just a matter of knowing how to make the miles work to their best advantage,” said Martin.