Need Advice: New to miles and points. Best advice for me so far?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by Antwoinne, Mar 15, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Good evening all! I just wanted to pose a question based on my current situation and see if it's possible to get some advice. As of this year I've started getting more and more involved in reading up on Frequent Flyer Programs and Miles and Points Earnings. I fear that my issue will be that I will have way too many accounts and memberships to effectively put them to use when it comes time to travel. I don't want to wake up and realize I've wasted valuable time by spreading myself too thin to achieve any real status with an airline. So with that said, is there any way I can get some advice on my current situation and any changes I should make now?

    Current Scenario:
    Casual Traveler (Say about 3 trips this year planned, all CONUS, plus a cruise)
    Live in the DC/MD/VA area (Not sure which airline is most beneficial from here)

    Member of the following Airline Programs:
    Delta, Southwest, United, Continental, AAdvantage, BMI Diamond Club

    Hotel Programs:
    SPG (through credit card promo), Best Western, Priority Club, Hilton Hhonors

    Car Programs:
    Hertz

    Main Goals:
    Travel the world as often as I can, affordably
    Earning status

    Any advice is welcomed!! Many thanks in advance.
     
  2. misman
    Original Member

    misman Gold Member

    Messages:
    13,888
    Likes Received:
    49,369
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Well, the first thing to do is keep what points you have alive; the various forums have some discussion regarding things you can do to keep the points alive through iDine, iTunes, etc.

    You can now combine your CO and UA miles into a single account; follow this thread for "how to" instructions... it's really easy. Then credit you CO, UA, and other Star Alliance points to that account to keep it alive.

    Now to the point of "which program is right for me?" We get this question a lot, and a few of us have put some input into this thread to help you help us help you.

    To be honest, many/most have multiple accounts, but focus on a single plan. For example, if you fly to Birmingham, AL, Southwest may be your best bet to get there, so you'll be putting some points in Southwest. However, your most common trips are to Los Angeles, Frankfurt, and Orlando. In that instance, you *may* was to have UA/CO your primary, with Southwest as your secondary.

    To summarize, check the links I've provided and, more important than anything, KEEP THOSE POINTS ALIVE!
     
    brockb, savydog, jbcarioca and 5 others like this.
  3. Mackieman
    Original Member

    Mackieman Gold Member

    Messages:
    11,319
    Likes Received:
    38,530
    Status Points:
    16,520
    Welcome. :)

    With few exceptions, flying only a couple of times a year will not earn you status, as most programs have a minimum of 25,000 EQM (elite qualification miles) required for the lowest tier of status. That said, you can still earn useful miles and book nifty awards; the key in this is to remedy the concern you've already expressed: spreading your activity too thin across multiple programs. Your best bet is to pick an airline or program to be loyal to and stick with it. You can also explore credit card earning potential for a given program to help build your stack of redeemable miles.

    As far as what airline is best for you living in the DC area, you have a choice. UA is out at IAD, and several airlines have decent service out of DCA. WN has a stronghold at BWI so what works best for you depends on geography and what your travel patterns are. There is a thread here in the newbies forum that can help guide you through some of these decisions. Once you pick a program, go to that program's forum here on MilePoint and read the FAQs and other helpful threads. You can also ask specific program questions that will broaden your knowledge base. :)
     
    savydog, ontherun, jbcarioca and 3 others like this.
  4. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Thanks for the links to the threads! I'll be sure to read up on things and make some decisions on that. I did know about the merger between CO and UA but not the combining the points so that's definitely a bonus. Thanks again
     
  5. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190

    I did actually take advantage of the CO and Southwest credit cards that got me a few bonus miles that way. Forgive me for asking but what is WN in BWI? I normally try to fly out of DCA where possible, but since I actually live in MD BWI would be a good option also. Thanks for the advice, and I look forward to having more thought provoking questions in the future :)
     
  6. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Since you are not a frequent flyer, I suggest you not focus gaining status on one airline. It's too hard to attain with occasional flights. There is nothing wrong with having miles in a few programs. It gives you flexibility for finding free flights. I also fly only a few times a year. I have now accumulated about 500,000 air miles in about a year or so of getting in on credit card/debit card and other deals. So, now I have significant miles in four airline programs, and now I am accumulating hotel points for the same reason. For me flexibility is more important than status. Keep doing your research, exploring possibilities and defining your goals. It's an ongoing process, so make sure you have some fun while doing it. [​IMG]
     
  7. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    WN is the code for Southwest Airlines.
     
    jbcarioca, Mikel and Chimpy like this.
  8. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Thanks for the support! And fun is the name of the game, for me. Just trying to be a sponge these days, the more I learn the better I'll be :) So thanks again
     
    savydog, jbcarioca, Bonnie and 2 others like this.
  9. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    I forgot to add -- there is absolutely nothing wrong with joining many programs. That only takes a couple minutes of your time. Get an account with Awardwallet or some similar web program and then you can have all your programs with # of miles/points listed on one page. I'm active with about ten programs and being able to see them all at once makes it much easier to keep track, set goals, etc. I use Awardwallet. The ConcourseZ section of MilePoint has info on some of these products/services.
     
    jbcarioca and Chimpy like this.
  10. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Signed up for Awardwallet also, it's extremely helpful! I had/have an excel spreadsheet I was using but I much prefer Awardwallet lol
     
    jbcarioca, Chimpy, doc and 1 other person like this.
  11. SgtPeppers
    Original Member

    SgtPeppers Silver Member

    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    92
    Status Points:
    295
    Antwoinne, I feel your pain my friend. I am in the same boat trying to understand how to manage everything not let this become overwhelming.

    I am new here as well and don't know much about travel hacking. I had joined Chris G's THC, found some useful info, but not much. It was a good overview.
     
    savydog, jbcarioca, doc and 1 other person like this.
  12. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    I'm actually a member on there as well lol, glad to see I'm not alone. Best of luck to us on our journey :)
     
    savydog and jbcarioca like this.
  13. Toula
    Original Member

    Toula Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,194
    Likes Received:
    4,807
    Status Points:
    2,400
    I agree join them all but focus your major effort one one program. I do agree with miles and smiles, based on your travel pattern don't chase status. The problem is once you get it, your focus becomes about retaining it.

    I think you need to think about what you intend to do with these points. Personally unless it is an absolute emergency and I need a last minute tix, I save all my points to redeem for international premium seats.

    One thing I did was to build myself a spreadsheet so I could model what a set expenditure would give me using various credit cards. That helps me determine which direction I am going. Like miles I am also building hotel points currently to balance the stash of airline points so I can take care of both aspects of our next vacation.

    Good luck on your quest. It does become very addictive but the benefits make the effort worthwhile.
     
  14. TennisPro
    Original Member

    TennisPro Silver Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    229
    Status Points:
    420

    I'm on the same journey!
    Mostly, I've decided to:
    1) Apply for the big credit card signup offers as they come
    2) Focus on my main airline when I do fly (if pricing is similar)
    3) Possibly do a "mileage run" if I am close to status near year-end.
    I've seen mileage run fares/mistake fares, that work out to be less than 2 cents per mile. So, say I have 5,000 qualifying miles on United by December. At 2 cents per mile, I can find flights for about $400, to get the other 20,000 miles necessary to earn Premier status. It would probably require a few days, and many on here may advise against going for status if you only fly 5,000 miles a year, but if I plan on flying more in 2012, the possible free upgrades and free economy plus, might be worth it to me.
    http://milepoint.com/forums/forums/mileage-runs-mattress-runs-travel-hacking.6/
     
    jbcarioca and Mikel like this.
  15. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

    Messages:
    28,216
    Likes Received:
    61,746
    Status Points:
    20,020
    If you are only traveling 3x annually on domestic trips then you are quite likely to do better at simply buying the cheapest fare for where you want to go and ignoring the miles side of things. You will not be accumulating sufficient miles in any decent period of time to offset the costs that loyalty can bring along to the game.

    Finding a mileage run at 2 cents/EQM is quite rare and is a pretty good deal, but you're still spending potentially hundreds of extra dollars just to maybe save a few bucks the next year. The overall math is hard to justify IMO when the actual travel is that limited.
     
  16. ahow628
    Original Member

    ahow628 Silver Member

    Messages:
    222
    Likes Received:
    319
    Status Points:
    450
    To have status when your amount of flying is limited, you might try gunning for lifetime status on your favorite airline. The easiest airline to do this on by far is AA since they count credit card miles toward lifetime gold and platinum. I suppose it would be possible to do with other airlines as well though, but would take significantly more work and money.
     
  17. 4Health
    Original Member

    4Health Silver Member

    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    37
    Status Points:
    145
    My biggest piece of advice for you is to always price out flights from BWI and see how they compare to DCA/IAD. I lived equidistant to BWI and DCA for 18 years (until 2 years ago) and it always seemed like prices were cheaper out of BWI no matter the carrier.
     
  18. sobore
    Original Member

    sobore Gold Member

    Messages:
    12,421
    Likes Received:
    33,847
    Status Points:
    16,520
    jbcarioca and miles and smiles like this.
  19. 2soonold
    Original Member

    2soonold Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,011
    Likes Received:
    8,385
    Status Points:
    7,145
    Good responses to this OP. I am a senior citizen; and I tell young people it's all about YOU, and finding what really works for you in the phase of life that you are currently in.[​IMG] You should have a long time to be active in this game; not so true for me.
    And I agree that you need to think about what you want and where your focus is. I already have a well funded travel budget, and I don't mind flying coach. So for me it's all about the fancy hotels, baby.[​IMG] If I have to go to DC; I already know that I'll chose to travel on a cheap coach ticket. What I'm interested in is whether I'll stay in a Motel 6 or The Mayflower. That's where miles/points are helpful to me. I've had status on an airline, and it just wasn't worth it to me.

    I also like this suggestion for young people. The longer you play in this game the better you will get at it. Your goals may change over the years, but you could achieve lifetime status on AA decades before you ever reach my age.[​IMG]
     
    savydog, Antwoinne, ahow628 and 2 others like this.
  20. TennisPro
    Original Member

    TennisPro Silver Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    229
    Status Points:
    420
    Let me give a personal example, as to why doing mileage runs, or even buying economy plus, may save money in some situations.
    I like to go to Hawaii, and have family there. I usually go to there about two or three times a year. I usually go with my girlfriend. I usually go on United, and the discount economy tickets are usually about the same price on all the airlines, from Denver. I am tall, so I definitely value economy plus. On the flights we recently took, it was $83/person, each way, to upgrade to economy plus. So, that's $83 x 2 people x 2 directions = $332. Baggage fees were $23/bag x 2 people x 2 directions = $92 (I made her fit everything into one bag, but if I had waived baggage fees by being Premier, she would have definitely taken 2 bags). So, that was $332 in economy plus fees + $92 in baggage fees = $424 in fees I paid, just for one trip, that I would have been exempted from, if I had status.
    Since I make this trip at least twice a year, usually on United, it would actually save me a lot of money, to do a mileage run at year-end to get status, especially if I am close to 25,000 miles (say 21,000 miles, from 3 DEN-HNL trips). It would even make economic sense to purchase an economy plus annual pass for $425 for a year.
    Of course, based on previous posts, I respect and value the input of Wandering Aramean, as he forces me to rethink my own ideas.
     
    jbcarioca likes this.
  21. TennisPro
    Original Member

    TennisPro Silver Member

    Messages:
    141
    Likes Received:
    229
    Status Points:
    420
    P.S. The free BMI silver status link is now... dead. Booo. I was going to wait until July 1 to sign-up, so that I had the status until 2013. I learned another lesson, though... move fast on sweeeet deals.
     
    Antwoinne, 2soonold and jbcarioca like this.
  22. lunettes noires
    Original Member

    lunettes noires Silver Member

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    35
    Status Points:
    165
    I was concerned about spreading myself too thin when I first started doing this, but since I've accumulated enough miles to redeem for my target international trips in several programs, I've found it actually makes me more comfortable to have the option to book with another airline/alliance should my first choice prove not to have availability when I want to redeem. Between the recent credit card mega-bonuses and the availability of one-way awards on AA and UA (so you can split the cost of a single trip between 2 accounts), it really didn't take long to get to this state. Not having status on anybody (or really even any remote chance of it with my meager travel schedule and the fact that most of my trips this year will either be on VDB credit or award tickets) is actually freeing in a way, since I can just buy the cheapest seat for and let the miles fall where they may.

    In terms of not letting things expire, my strategy is:
    • open BankDirect checking account, $2500 balance gets your AA miles perpetually refreshed every month
    • holding SPG points until I actually need to transfer them somewhere to redeem or keep a program alive, and then planning to hold some in reserve
    • do every stupid little free miles promo that comes up, e.g. watch Bose video or the 100-mile Continental OnePass card promos that they seem to load a new one of every month, to keep the accounts fresh
    • watch over everything with AwardWallet.
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  23. cheepneezy
    Original Member

    cheepneezy Gold Member

    Messages:
    7,057
    Likes Received:
    17,768
    Status Points:
    12,520
    I'm a casual traveler as well. I used to have a few trips per year from work to add on to that which is why the SPG credit card worked out well for me at the time. Now, the annual fee has been raised to a point that it doesn't make sense for me anymore. From what I've read, you won't get much out of anything less than Plat status on SPG. Priority Club is one of the few(only?) programs that will count points gained from credit card spend toward status. Between your stays, a bunch of bonuses available, contests throughout the year and use of the CC, you can probably attain some status in that program.
     
  24. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Thanks a lot for the input, I only have 4 planned trips this year since I am only just beginning to get to know the ins and outs, I actually hope to travel more than that considering I currently get 3 days off a week. So it is certainly in my plan to travel as frequently as I can, just wanted to make sure I was doing it the right way. Thanks again
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  25. Antwoinne
    Original Member

    Antwoinne Silver Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    43
    Status Points:
    190
    Great advice, I actually think that's been my experience as well. DCA is normally always more expensive, so the drive to BWI is well worth it normally.
     
    miles and smiles likes this.

Share This Page