The most common thing I hear from friends and family is that they don’t bother collecting frequent travel points because it’s “hard”. Besides, they say, you can never redeem them anyway. Too much work for not enough return.
I decided to try to do my part to dispel those myths by pointing out a couple of easy, cheap (or free) tips on how to accumulate miles. Now, you might not be ready to master all of these tomorrow. But, a little bit of reading and you’ll be on your way. And, don’t think that you’ll never find 4 tickets in Business Class to Rome during Easter. 2 years ago, I got 5! Quick pic of the Trevi fountain at the bottom from our trip. 🙂
So, where to start? Well, start by finding an easy way to track miles. That way, when a random program offers you 500 free points that you don’t think you’ll ever use, you can stick the info in your tracking document and refer to it later if you’re able to add more points free or cheaply. Best in breed here is Award Wallet.
The guys that created Award Wallet know what they’re doing. The software will track pretty much everything out there, with only a few small exceptions. It will also do it for free if you don’t want to track expiration dates. But, I think it’s worth $5 every 6 months (the going rate) to make sure you get a reminder when something is about to expire. It’s so easy to keep miles alive with a simple transaction on a shopping portal for something you already need to buy. The other great thing about Award Wallet is that you can track account numbers for multiple people. So, one Award Wallet account can track your whole family’s mileage balance.
And, as a mile junkie friend of mine likes to say, if a mileage-earning offer is good enough for you, it’s worth doing for the whole family.
How do you find the seats you need to fly somewhere cool? Couple of different ways:
1. Expert Flyer: This is for the more adventurous folk. It will take a bit of time to learn, but EF has good tutorials. Their free service will allow you to search for a vacation pretty easily.
2. The Lazy Way: The smartest guy I know in the mileage space will actually book your awards for you. His name is Gary Leff, and he’s very good at it. He charges a fee, which when compared with the price of a business class ticket, is a steal.
Gary also has, IMO, one of the best blogs on the internet related to travel, A View From the Wing. Setting aside the educational aspects of his blog, you could be earning a few hundred hotel points a day by reading his post about TopGuest, or how to get Hilton Gold status completely free!
If you did nothing else other than read Gary’s blog and pop over to Milepoint once a week, you’d be in pretty darn good shape.
The game is not hard. The airlines and hotel chains make it easy to collect points if you’re smart enough to spend a few minutes figuring out how to accumulate them. I’m happy to answer questions. Good luck!
I’m also working on a post on why not all points are created equal. Check back later in the week!