Miles All Over The Place - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by wanalee32, Aug 11, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Hello everybody! I just stumbled upon this website and am SO glad I did. I have been been a world backpacker for a few years and am just now trying to learn how to really use frequent flyer miles. I know.. pathetic, right? The wealth of information online has overwhelmed me, and I feel like a lot of it doesn't really apply to my situation, which is.... I have sometimes remembered to add my frequent flyer number to flights and have a credit card with which I accrue points, but I haven't ever really known what I was supposed to do once I got the miles. Now, my miles are all over the place. I have American (15K), Delta (36K), Korean Air (13K), and US Bank Flex Perks Visa card (48K). How should I proceed?

    Should I try to earn enough miles in each to earn a flight, then start sticking with one? Any recommendations for a loyalty program I should try to start sticking with? Also, is there a different credit card I should switch to? I filled out the little "which frequent flyer program" profile that I found, but wanted to make a different post.. since my question's a bit more complicated. Thank you all so much for any help :)

    1. What is your origination city/airport? I am a seasonal worker and move all the time, which makes this difficult. Over the past few years, it has been mostly DEN, I guess... but I currently live in South Korea and will probably be moving back to Alaska next summer. EEEKK!
    2. Where do you tend to travel? US, Asia, South America, Africa, Europe... everywhere!
    3. What is you goal for the frequent flyer program (status, upgrades, rewards, etc.?) I don't care about anything but free flights. I am a wandering backpacker :)
    4. How much do you travel in an average year? A few flights around the US and at least one or two internationally
    5. Do you fly for business, pleasure, or a mix? All pleasure!
    6. How much of your travel is paid by someone else? This is an option?? Haha. 0% :(
    7. How much control do you have of choosing flights, airlines, etc.? full control
    8. What days of the week do you typically travel? whenever is cheapest
    9. Can you book flexible fares? almost always
    10. If you are likely to qualify for elite status will it be miles or segments? no clue?
    11. Do you have a preference or imposed requirement of hotel/rental car/credit card partners? no
    12. Can you get extra miles from credit cards, surveys, other partners? From a credit card, yes.
    13. How would you like to use your miles for awards? mostly big international flights or the occasional trip to visit my parents (SYR). Being poor and 25, I never stay at hotels or rent cars... so a lot of those rewards are useless to me.
    14. What benefits do you hope to receive for elite status? I just deleted this, because truly the only thing I care about is free international flights. Free domestic checked bags or a quicker check in line might be cool, but I would never notice if I were missing out on it.
     
  2. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    If you're planning on moving to Alaska, maybe Alaska's program would be good for you. They have a lot of international partners, as well as their own branded credit card. Doesn't sound like you're going to have over 50,000 flight miles a year where the major perks (double miles) would kick in with carriers like UA and AA.

    Alternatively, you could credit your Alaska flights to AA. You would have a good base to start off of with 15,000 AA miles already. Not much you can do with those miles until you hit 25,000 miles in account. Add in an AA credit card with at least 25K (some offers up to 75K) and you have your first free international ticket (well, not entirely free--taxes have to be paid). AA status, though, does not get you out of Alaska baggage fees.

    One of the big perks with AA is off-peak international awards (Europe, South America) for 40K (normally 60K), and the seasons are pretty wide for those off-peak awards (Europe runs October 15 - May 15). I'm not familiar with what Alaska charges for award travel, so that's something I would certainly look at before committing there.
     
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  3. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Alaska partners with DL as well as AA, so some people use an Alaska account as a way to consolidate AA and DL miles into a single account and then to use those miles on a variety of carriers.

    It would be good if you were to get enough KE miles to use for an intraAsia award before leaving Korea, assuming that you don't envision going back there in the near future.

    Your USBank card is a good one as it allows you for get a ticket on almost any carrier and these tickets themselves collect FF miles for you.

    You might want to think about a DL AmEx credit card for the free bags and (relatively) early boarding privileges. If so, watch for a good offer and expect status miles for a Plat card but probably not for their Gold card. Be sure to document the offer under which you sign up for the card and be prepared to fight to get the miles for which you are entitled. You might be close to making Silver with DL (including SkyTeam flights) which gives you some benefits, including rollover of any status miles over 25K.
     
  4. jwsky
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    jwsky Silver Member

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    Wow! your list of 14 questions and answers is very nearly what mine would be. I travelled with a back pack to many places around the globe for over 24 months of the last 12 years. And ff miles were a big help.
    My strategy was to use miles or credits to make the big jump to somewhere like Lima or Bangkok or Amsterdam and then use buses, trains, boats and short haul planes from there.
    Flexability is your biggest weapon. Dodge the holidays seasons, and look to get bumped on every flight. Read up on getting bumped! Also look for opportunities for flights with stop overs and open jaw trips. I once flew into Cancun, Mexico and out of Panama City three months later, all on one ticket. Right now, i am looking into a flight to the Easter Islands with a stop over in Chili on the way and Argentina on the way back.
    Web sites and blogs and travel guides from the library can really help you plan the next trip. Most travellers like the people here at Milepoint are more than happy to help you out.
    Good Luck! Safe journeys!
     
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  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    You want a stopover in Chilli? I didn't realize any peppers grew big enough for a runway.:D:p Could you mean the country of Chile?
     
  6. jwsky
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    jwsky Silver Member

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    Ha Ha okay, I fixed it.
     
  7. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Sorry, but I just could not resist....
     
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  8. miles and smiles
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    miles and smiles Gold Member

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    Personally I see having miles in multiple programs to be a good thing - as long as you have enough miles in each program to fly somewhere you want to go for free. I like having the flexibility of being able to book my trips on a variety of airlines, because one may offer the flight I need for less miles, with better times or connections or with some other benefit that the other airline doesn't offer.
    If you are patient and perseverant and have a good credit rating, you can garner hundreds of thousands of miles within a year.
    I think the best deal available now is the Citi AA cards for 75,000 miles x 2. There are other good deals available.
    You can find info on these deals at blogs and websites like:
    http://thepointsguy.com/
    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/
    http://www.frugaltravelguy.com/
    http://millionmilesecrets.com/
    http://www.freefrequentflyermiles.com/index.htm
    Good luck!
     
  9. Exiled in Express
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    Exiled in Express Gold Member

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    I had a scattered approach to miles and have built up the orphan accounts, redeemed and forgot about them. I currently build an Alaska account for my AA and DL travels, US DM for the crazy promotions and any Star flying I may do, and AA for the credit card and great oneway award availability.
     
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  10. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    Alaska is a program that can solve problems for those who tend to sometimes fly AA and sometimes DL; it's a back-door way to consolidate miles that's quite decent on redemptions, although it's likely to be of most interest to those who don't fly enough with either DL or AA to obtain status on one or both of these airlines.
     
  11. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    I would echo the advantage of the Alaska Airlines (AS) Mileage Plan as you can earn miles from either DL and AA. It's a good way to keep miles consolidated if you tend to fly on the cheapest (or almost cheapest) ticket. They have good international partners as well. Plus, if you're going to be living in Alaska, then AS might be the only game in town for flights (depending where you are). Or if you're super remote, then you'll probably end up flying one of the smaller Alaska-based regional airlines and both Penair and ERA Alaska are partners with Alaska Airlines.

    If/when you're based in Denver, then United or Frontier will be your best bet for flights. I'm not terribly familiar with Frontier, but as a LCC they'll probably have cheap(er) domestic tickets, but I don't think they have good international options for mileage redemptions (outside Canada and Mexico). United, however, will get you into the Star Alliance - which has can get you to pretty much any place in the world with miles.

    Since I'm fairly cost-constrained into flying on cheaper tickets, my strategy has been to credit all *A flights (US, CO, and UA in the United States) to UA and AA,DL, and AS into Alaska. That way, between two mileage accounts, I've covered all of the legacy domestic carriers for earning, and most of the time at least one of those carriers is as cheap as the LCC's.

    For a credit card, I would suggest a program that can book any domestic ticket with any carrier (like your US BankPerks). Other options are the Capital One Venture Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. That way you can redeem your c.c. spend points for tickets, and then still earn miles for flying those tickets. I might give one additional plug to both the Cap One and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, in that neither card has any foreign transaction fees - which can make earning points internationally a little easier. The Chase Sapphire Preferred also has the option to transfer points into UA/CO miles - which can help you top-off your UA account for a *A redemption somewhere.
     
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