Most common way to earn miles?

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by jc1977, May 12, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. jc1977

    jc1977 Active Member

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    Have noticed that most people posting here seem to have large mileage balances that enable them to book award flights in F across long distances. I live in Ireland and fly UA to USA RT 2-3 times per year which only allows me to reach Silver status. No other option for earning here like credit cards-none linked to Mileage Plus etc. how do most of you accrue large balances:from miles flown or credit cards etc. or combo??
     
  2. KenInEscazu

    KenInEscazu Gold Member

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    Welcome jc1977! I hope you enjoy the (generally) friendly atmosphere you'll find on this board. It's a great place to learn how to maximize one's travel experience.

    Earning the miles to improve your status is a real challenge unless you are willing to pay the high price of PQM accelerator miles. TPAC business class will also add to your miles, but again it's not an inexpensive option.

    To increase your general mileage balance, you might consider MileagePlus Shopping for the things that you are already buying. I don't buy anything without first checking to see if I can get it from a merchant involved with a miles/dollar promotion. I won't pay more than fair market value for such purchases, but usually I don't have to.

    Is the MileagePlus Amex from MBNA for the UK not available in Ireland? You might also look for *A partners who have branded cards that will allow you to use the miles on UA. I'm in Central America, so I'm not familiar with what is available in Europe, but I have a Taca/Avianca card that offers both local benefits and travel to the USA. That card has paid off big.
     
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  3. Golfingboy
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    Golfingboy Gold Member

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    Miles flown and the 100% bonus per miles flown is how most of us accumulate significant balances in the programs.

    Some people churn credit cards (I don't) to get the same sign up (when there is a 50-100K bonus going on) bonus repeatedly. IMO, it is abusing the system, which is why I don't do that, but the banks allow that.

    For you, is there AMEX in Ireland? I am not very familiar with the credit cards available to those who lives in Europe.
     
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  4. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    Welcome!

    I found this link on United's website:
    Earn one award mile for every £1 spent on everyday card purchases with your United MileagePlus Credit Card. Available to residents of UK only. Terms apply. Representative 16.9% APR variable.​
    Website: www.united.com/mbna-uk
    The link does not seem to be working at the moment, so you might want to contact them to see if this is still available. If you don't want to use credit cards, there are other ways you can boost your miles. If your trip dates are flexible, look for bonus miles offered through certain periods, and book your travel during those dates. There are some online programs that allow you shop and receive bonus miles, take surveys for virtual 'cash' that you can exchange for miles, or dining programs that let you earn miles as you dine. I'm not sure which programs might be available to you in Ireland and I'm not familiar with UA, but I thought the suggestions might help point you in the right direction.

    EDIT: Here's a comparison chart of various different cards and the miles they provide.
    http://www.money.co.uk/credit-cards/air-miles-credit-cards.htm
     
  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    IMHO, that is really the key to hauling in loads of redeemable miles. An initial "investment" to achieve elite status (the higher the better) is necessary, but after that redeemable miles flow in effortlessly. One's mileage may vary, however, since individual circumstances vary widely. What works for one person may not for another.

    Welcome to MP, JC!
     
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  6. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    I agree with this. After first hitting gold on AA and noticing the benefits, it's worth it to me to fulfill the requirements for platinum. My miles bonus will go from 25% to 100%, and that's a significant increase. I already anticipate several international trips in 2014 that are already being planned, so that bonus will go a long way in adding to my existing balance. This may not be the case for everyone, as NYCUA1K said, so choose your travel based on what's best for you.

    I was in the mindset of maximizing miles, and joining MP has really helped me use critical thinking skills when it comes to booking travel. I looked at costs before, but now I also consider the mileage between certain routes and pay more attention to bonus offers from the FF program.
     
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  7. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    Coming from Ireland, the rules of the game will be very different from those pertaining to US residents and, I fear, your options will be much more limited.

    If you are talking about a US-based program, bear in mind that most of the promotions will be aimed at the US, not the EU, let along Ireland. Accordingly, most of your extra earning possibilities simply don't exist. To give you an example, I'm now a UK-based UA flyer. I cannot earn on credit cards (there is a UK-based UA credit card but the deal is so bad that it's not even worth considering), most of the shopping portals are irrelevant and most of the other ways people pick up miles are impossible. Essentially I earn all my miles through flying, with a small number (c10,000 pa) through car rental. I'm pretty sure you will find the same constraints apply in Ireland.

    The lesson from this is to choose your FF program with great care. The US-based programs are great because they allow you to earn miles much more quickly, and (to date, and this is/may be changing) allow you to earn generously on even the cheapest fares. However, you are at a disadvantage to other participants because of the above. Alternatively, look at EU based programs but you may well find them to be much less generous.

    When looking, you must be honest with yourself as to how much you are going to fly and where, and be realistic as to your airline options. I fly regularly and consistently to the US in economy. It suits me as I quite easily clock up 100,000 miles a year (9 RTs to the West Coast plus bits and pieces), which gets me 100% bonus miles and E+. But I'm realistic: I rarely fly in Europe to Germanic countries and therefore Lufthansa and its affiliates are pretty useless. Despite the benefits I would get by flying LH, I always prefer to go nonstop and therefore BA is the airline. If I flew only 50,000 miles, then AA would probably be my choice as I'd earn 100% bonus miles instead of 50% on UA - and I'd be able to earn on BA. If UA were to change its program to something less attractive, but I maintained my 9 trips, I would change to BA because I'd be able to earn reasonable status, and it's a more natural fit to my flying, despite the fuel surcharges on redemptions. I think the only sensible option for the OP is to do the homework, based on his/her likely level of flying and see what rewards can sensibly be achieved at the levels that would be attained.

    Incidentally, they are called loyalty programs, but the airline will show little to no loyalty to the customer, so it's not sensible for the customer to show much to the airline.
     
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  8. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    This really only works if you plan to fly that much anyways. If not it is usually cheaper to buy the miles outright rather than buy flights (and actually spend the time taking them) to earn the points.

    Also possibly worth noting is an industry stat which says ~60% of points are earnt outside of flying which means most are actually accrued via partners, not traveling. I suspect that the vast majority of those are via CC, something the OP doesn't have access to, but that's just a hunch.
     
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  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Like I said, YMMV (caveats are important!). Most of my miles are from flying, by a mile. I simply described what has worked for me for years. I will need to see the stats about ~60% of all miles being derived from non-flying activities. It may be that 60% of people in the US derive their miles that way but I suspect that by far most miles are derived from flying worldwide, since extraneous sources of miles that are easily available in the US are not available elsewhere.
     
  10. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    I know this is a United question but I would think the Avios programs might possibly be a better outlet for you in Ireland. I know the fuel surcharges can be a killer there but just thinking geographically. There are many Avios earning potentials available in the UK we can't get here in the US. I also agree with using the shopping portal.
     
  11. I'm not sure about Ireland but here in Canada there are several CC's that allow you to move points to a favorite airline. For instance my AMEX platinum card allows me to move points on a 1 to 1 basis to Air Canada or to buy a ticket on any airline of choice. My bank CC allows me to convert points to either BA or AA and to also buy tickets through them directly on any airline. Once you have the points in your CC account you can best figure out how to make best use of the points.
    Another thing to consider is your airline of choice, if you do have a choice on which carrier to fly on. You might alighn a CC with an airline that allows that conversion to them. Since Air Lingus gives Avios miles I would assume using either of BA or AL would be a better match with CC's.

    Welcome to MP.
     
  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I know; I was trying to make the information more relevant to the person asking the initial question. ;)

    It was openly discussed at an industry conference I attended a couple weeks ago and it was a world-wide number. The part where more miles are issued in the USA than other countries certainly helps skew the data.

    If the OP is only flying ~30k miles annually they're not going to make 1K and they're not going to get the 100% bonus points. And those are only on some partners anyways (though on most the OP would experience ex-Ireland).
    If the OP can get award seats on EI ex-Ireland, especially to Boston, the Avios program could be quite useful. Those trips are much less expensive.
     
  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I definitely agree with the data being skewed due to the increasing reliance on churning in the US, regardless of whether or not it is a practice that should be recommended.

    That is why individual circumstances are the ultimate determinant of how one approaches the whole mile/point thing. One size does not fit all...
     
  14. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Noooo! It's definitely too early for wine.

    :)
     
  15. jc1977

    jc1977 Active Member

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    Thanks everyone for your detailed replies. Seems that the only option for boosting my MP balance is from miles flown-no cc or other such offers available here. Re Avios and BA/EI,UA wins on price every time v EI to USA and flying via UK with BA has high cost penalties with departure tax. Plus clearing US immigration in SNN is a huge benefit and makes connections much less stressful and bearable.
     
  16. lhrsfo
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    lhrsfo Silver Member

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    Departure tax should not be an issue unless you are originating in the UK, which you are clearly not. However, I agree entirely that UA wins hands down on prices - that's why I was attracted to UA in the first place. It has to be the cheapest (certainly from LHR) as it is a shadow of BA or Virgin, unless you start getting the elite benefits.

    It may be that, if you cannot get to 50k PQM, you should largely forget about the miles thing and simply focus on the fact that UA will give you E+ at check in - and that makes the flight much more tolerable (less need to purchase the alcohol that normal airlines would give you). If you are only a little short of 50k, there are ways you can stretch it at little cost - taking a somewhat circuitous route via ORD or even IAH, for example, will give you many more miles towards your total. If you do reach 50k, you earn more miles for each flight and you get lounge access. Just be aware that you only occasionally earn miles on partner airlines - and it's pretty difficult to tell before booking whether you will or not, so UA is the way to go if you need the miles.
     
  17. jc1977

    jc1977 Active Member

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    Booking through BA to earn avios means routing via LHR and that's where the tax kicks in. Just have to resign myself to the fact that my mike earning ability is seriously limited and be happy with my lot! :)
     
  18. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    If it is a connecting flight ex-DUB you should only be hit with the airport taxes and not the APD. It is still a chunk of change but it would be worse if you started the trip in the UK.
     

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