Ways & How

How to Redeem Frequent Flyer Miles

How to Redeem Frequent Flyer Miles

After earning your frequent flyer miles, you need to keep track of them because the frequent flyer programs often require activity on your account to keep the miles from expiring. In some programs, the miles expire when they are not redeemed within a certain period of time. It pays to be organized with your miles programs, so they’re not wasted due to expiration. Look at consolidating your miles using a program or an application. You can also check to see if any of your miles from airlines are those belonging to airline alliances, so you can clump the miles together. Here are several ways on how to redeem frequent flyer miles.

  1. Use the miles to get a free trip

    The most obvious option to redeem miles is to get a free trip. More often than not, you used the miles rewards system, so you could get a free plane ticket after accumulating the miles. This method requires strategy. You have to make sure that the airline’s miles to dollar equivalent makes the best use of your miles. For example, the airline wants 25,000 miles from you for a ticket.

    f the rate is 1.2 cents per mile, then 25,000 miles is $300. If the ticket costs less than $300, then your miles are wasted. Make sure you get the best value for your miles by saving them for expensive tickets such as international flights or first class. Another factor to think of when planning your destination and route is to use the fewest possible miles.

    Aside from the value, you also need to be strategic about when to reserve and what flights to use. The airlines often have restrictions in the redemption such as blackout dates or limited available seats. You have to be flexible and plan alternate flights you can take in case your first choice is not available. Some recommend a reservation of 11 months ahead, so you will have a greater likelihood to get the prime seats. Keep your frequent flyer account number handy, since you will need it for redemption.

    There are two ways to get your ticket: you can either purchase it through the self-service online site, or call and speak to an airline agent. Both ways have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you buy the tickets yourself, there will be no service fee and you won’t have to wait until an agent is free and comes on the line. If you book through an agent, there might be options that are not available online. The agent can also help you with booking complicated routes like those with connecting flights. Regardless of the method you choose, ask about the possible fees and taxes that you will need to pay out-of-pocket.

  2. Use the miles to upgrade your flight

    If your miles are not enough to buy a ticket, you can use them to get your flight upgraded to business class or first class. Alternatively, you can use extra miles to have more freedom in booking your flights. This means that the blackout days and other restrictions will not apply to you.

  3. Use the miles to pay for travel-related expenses

    If you are not able to get the flights you want using the miles due to the restrictions, use the miles to pay for your hotel stay or car rental. You might have more freedom with those avenues. If your desired hotel arrangement is not available online, try calling the hotel front desk or customer service. Some big hotels can make exceptions for you.

  4. Use the miles to purchase items

    Most frequent flyer programs are linked to an online store where you can use your points to buy magazine and newspaper subscriptions and gift certificates. You can also get discounts and bid on auction items. The online store partners with hundreds of popular brands, so you’ll get a wide variety. Note that if you use your money at the online store, you will get more miles than at other online stores.

  5. Use the miles’ value and donate to charity

    An alternative option to buying is giving back. You can use the online redemption site to donate your miles to the charity of your choice, such as the Red Cross. Since you didn’t have to purchase the miles, you can give them away freely.

  6. Gift or transfer your miles

    If you don’t plan to use your miles or you know someone who would greatly appreciate them, you can give your miles to a friend or family member. Note that there may be a fee for this method, which you will have to shoulder. This option is also available at the online redemption site.

Aside from the options mentioned above on how to redeem frequent flyer miles, you can also have the miles converted to cash. This option, while possible, is least recommended.  It was mentioned in Step 1 that miles have a dollar value. Theoretically, it is possible for you to have your miles converted to cash and moved to a PayPal account. Some miles programs offer this option. However, it’s honestly a waste of miles because the miles take a long time to accumulate and the miles to dollar equivalent is small. If you convert to cash, do not expect a big amount.


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