Frequent Flyer Programs-Where should a newbie concentrate?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Len Williams, Feb 16, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Len Williams
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    Len Williams Silver Member

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    I am new to collecting FF miles through various promotions. I realize that miles can be transfered within the alliance, and some airlines will recognize elite status, but which loyalty program should I target? Which loyalty program is the best one to try and achieve top-level status?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    First of all, welcome to the world of miles collecting.

    A couple of things: miles are usually not transferrable within an alliance, but you can use miles from carrier A to get award flights on alliance partners.

    To give you more advice, it would be helpful to know where you're based, how much travel you anticipate and where to, what your award travel goals are, etc.
     
  3. Gardyloo
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    Gardyloo Gold Member

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    In general miles can't be transferred between alliance members, but can be redeemed for travel on partner airlines.

    "Best" is totally subjective, and based on many factors including where you live, where you travel, how often, in what class of service (coach, first etc.) and whether you're in it for travel redemptions, program status (which grants bonus miles, upgrades and numerous other perks) or both. More information is needed before anyone can even start to have a go at a meaningful answer.
     
  4. Len Williams
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    Len Williams Silver Member

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I appologize for my ignorance, but I was under the impression that alliance members were partner airlines. What am I missing here?

    To clarify, I live in Columbia, SC, and I do not currently travel much. I am doing what I can to build up miles while on the ground, so that I can finally experience 1st class transatlantic style! I have taken advantage of several credit card offers recently, but they are scattered so far.
     
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  5. Kagehitokiri
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    Kagehitokiri Silver Member

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    status >
    - AA lifetime status via credit card etc
    - other status via non-earned means

    awards >
    - make sure to compare domestic FFPs to foreign FFPs, especially for skyteam

    credit cards that let you transfer to lots of programs >
    - starwood amex
    - amex charge cards with membership rewards
    - diners club (currently not taking applications)
    (there are a couple others that have a couple programs, but not a lot of programs)
     
  6. Westsox
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    Westsox Gold Member

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    A stop over at the www.frugaltravelguy.com will yield some great information for a Rookie Mile & Points collector. If you search through Rick's archives you will find some great information on getting started. His wife's daughter has also recently started a weekly post directed at Rookie travelers.

    Good luck, and welcome to MP.
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Yes, they are partner airlines and that is quite helpful for earning miles and spending miles. You generally can earn miles into one account from the partner airlines and you can get awards out of that one account. But you typically cannot "merge" or pool the accounts, so if you acquire miles in different loyalty programs via credit cards, they will stay separate.

    can't really tell you what carrier I'd choose in that part of the country since I am on the other end. Hopefully someone can chime in with advice.
     
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  8. chemist562
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    chemist562 In Memorian

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    You could do American Airlines. (AA). Their lifetime miles include other spend like credit cards, etc. Find the 75K AA Citi credit card thread, sign up for 2 personal AA Citi cards for 150K, wait 95 days, then apply for the Citi Business for 75K. I have read that the expired offer for $1500 spend to get signup bonuses still work. One of them, you may have to call in. I would do the signup one after the other on the same day.

    1 Million American miles will get you lifetime gold. (the 25K elite level). 2 Million will get you lifetime Platinium (mid level-50K elite level).

    Even if you don't do AA for long term, signup for the 2 personal AA Citi cards for 75 each (same day), then the AA Citi Business. 150K should easily get you transatlantic F. (Beware: If on British Airways, they have fuel surcharges but for F, it may be worth it to slurge. If you don't want to pay fuel surcharges, you could fly AA transatlantic).

    Bottom line: Getting 150K (or 225 w/biz card) is alot of miles for just signing up for credit cards. That is what I did a while back. The cards helped me to cross over the 1 Million miles mark.
     
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  9. Omar's_Coming
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    Omar's_Coming Silver Member

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    +1 to this...

    The best way to start is with the citi cards (or a couple of other credit cards with good bonuses). This will give you a decent sized bank to work with pretty quickly.

    Since you don't fly often, you'll want to make the most of your remdeptions to get the most value out of the award. If you're looking for TATL in first class make sure your flexible on dates, book a fair bit in advance, and look to redeem your miles on non-US airlines. You'll likely find that they offer the best product
     
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  10. JasonH
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    JasonH Silver Member

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    Having called CAE my home airport before I can say your two best options would be Delta or US Airways. Many people don't like those airlines for many reasons, but for you they might make the most sense. A few reasons:
    1. During IRROPS where you are stranded in ATL or CLT you can easily drive home
    2. DL especially, but US as well, offers much more service in terms of frequency.
    3. DL flies (or used to fly) two mainline flights a day on a MD-80
    4. I know with DL, their flight times line up well with flights to CDG due to heavy traffic to the Michelin plants in Lexington, SC
    Ultimately it comes down to your personal choice. I am not a fan of the Skymiles program for a lot of reasons, but one thing that kept me coming back to DL was the service and on-board amenities. Now that I base out of DEN... well, UA is really the best choice for me. [​IMG]

    Also, both DL and US give away miles like crack. So you can easily get enough miles on the ground. Heck, US is selling elite status right now.
     
  11. ahow628
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    ahow628 Silver Member

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    If you decide to go the US Airways route, you might check out this promo:
    http://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/programdetails/purchasemiles/buymiles.html?

    You get a 75% bonus just for purchasing the miles and an additional 25% for installing their toolbar (and performing three searches). That is double miles up to a grand total of 100,000 miles for $1375. That is 1.375 cents per mile. They do not count toward status.

    Also notice that your US Airways Dividend account needs to be open for at least 12 days to be able to purchase these miles, so open it sooner rather than later.
     
  12. misman
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    misman Gold Member

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    OK, Len, let's use JasonH's suggestion of US Airways as an example. US is a member of Star Alliance, which includes airlines such as United/Continental, Lufthansa, ANA, etc. Whenever you fly any of those airlines, you give them your US Dividend Miles number, and all of the miles that you earn during the flight will be credited to your US Dividend Miles Accounts. So, you have ONE account, and not multiple that has banked all of the miles.

    Whenever you get enough, you decide you want to fly to Singapore. You can use your US Dividend Miles to fly on United/Continental, Singapore, US Airways, or any of the Star Alliance partners that has availability for your destination.

    You can substitute Delta SkyTeam in the example above, and the results will be similar.

    This is pretty simplified. There are rules around fare classes that earn miles on the foreign carriers, and there is always the issue of finding availability on those airlines for the destination, date, class, etc. when you are ready to travel.

    Welcome to our crazy world!
     
  13. tassojunior
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    tassojunior Silver Member

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    The 3 AA's for 100K each get you 330K toward 1mil elite quick. With coins and promos and some travel you get 1mil quick.

    If getting quick elite status is all that matters to you and AA is a viable airline for your travel, it's the one. But don't assume elite status will get a bunch of upgrades on international routes. It's better to accumulate miles by doing the best cc promo for each airline and using those miles to book J or F seats. Those seats are a real bargain when paying by ff miles.
     
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  14. Gary Steiger
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    Gary Steiger Silver Member

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    Star Alliance is the best for actually finding award seats for international travel, especially to Europe. All of the non-U.S. airlines in that program are wonderful, especially in business or first class. After grabbing the two 75K AA credit card deals (not star alliance, but a no brainer anyway), I would concentrate on getting Continental Airlines miles now, while the airline still exits. Then, after the merger with United, I would do all the United deals I could find. The best deals for both airlines are for credit cards and brokerages. You can find them in the credit card and finance sections of my website below. There are currently three credit card deals that will get you Continental Airlines miles:
    • American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Continental Airlines miles 1:1 in 1,000 point increments. Currently there are two good bonus offers for cards, The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express for 25K points, and the American Express Gold Card for 10K points. Both waive the first year fee. You can find descriptions and links for these on my website below on the Credit Cards > Annual Fee Cards page in the American Express section near the bottom of the page.
    • The Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa credit card offers 15K or 25K points, depending on how much you want to commit to spend in the first three months. The points convert to Contiinental Airlines miles 1:1 in 1,000 point increments. The first year annual fee is waived. You can find descrtipions and links to the offers for this card on my website below in the Credit Cards > Bank and Other Travel Cards section.
    • The 50K miles Continental Airlines credit card, found on my website below on the Credit Cards > Annual Fee Cards page
    The Continental and Sapphire cards are issued by Chase. Chase is a bit sensitive about issuing too many cards to one person, so go slow on these. I would do the Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Continental 50K miles deals right away,.Your history with Chase should not cause Amex to deny your application for this card.

    Both TD Ameritrade and Fidelity have excellent offers for miles. Fidelity's United Airlines miles will eventual combine with whatever Continental miles you have earned. TD Ameritrade has offers for both Continental and United.
    __________________
     
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