Travel Tips

Basics Explained: Points and miles

Given that almost each airline carrier has it’s own points/miles system, it can seem a daunting task to understand each and everyone. Admittedly, when I started researching this area more in-depth it took me sometime to figure it out, but now that I have invested my time into this dumbfounding topic, I hope I can clear it up for you – the reader.

Creating an account with the airline

Everytime you fly a particular airline, by rule of thumb, have an account with them to accrue points on your flights. Remember to add your frequent flyer/membership number BEFORE you take the flight as adding in points after a flight are a royal pain and waste a lot of time.

This way, everytime you fly an airlines, you get a few points each trip. Additionally, shopping through their portals for clothes/miscellaneous items (as you would on Amazon or Macy’s) will accrue more points (in some cases more than actually flying).

Tracking your points

After a completed flight or transaction, ensure those points are added to your account within 7 business days otherwise you may have to contact customer care to re-instate the points/miles.

Understand airline partnerships and various alliances

Taking two popular examples (there are more), Star Alliance (which includes Air India, United, ANA, Air Canada, etc…) and One World (Qatar, British Airways, American Airlines, etc…) airline partnerships are the largest in the world. Other partnerships might be bilateral like the ones between Alaska Air and Emirates or Delta and Virgin Atlantic amongst others.

Image result for star alliance

It’s best to know the ones relevant to you depending on the flight you either travel often or one’s you wish to fly in the future. In some cases, international travel can earn enough points/miles for a domestic one or in some cases round-trip.

Additionally, the more frequent a flyer you are and depending on your ticket type (basic economy/economy/business/first) you can slowly or quickly gain status with a particular airline. Ideal cases for quickly racking up status with an airline is traveling for work where they pay for your travel but you still get the points and future free upgrades.

Image result for one world alliance

Once you reach a certain status with airlines, you can request status matching with other partner airlines too.

What is status matching?

If you have Silver status with British Airways, you may request Emirates for a status match and they might upgrade you to Emirates Silver/Gold. Learn more on how to status match here. Similar rules/concepts apply to hotel statuses too.

What are the additional ways of attaining points/miles?

This is where travel credit cards really come into play. Popular card ecosystems include the Chase UR earning cards, American Express MR point earning cards and Capital One Venture cards. Each ecosystem earns points based on category spends and multipliers as stated for each card.

Image result for earning points and miles

For example, I cover how the Chase Freedom card earns enough points per quarter to redeem them for a roundtrip ticket in the US.

Additionally, how the AMEX gold card sign-up bonus MR points can be used to book a one way 16 hour business-class flight from New York to Mumbai, India.

Here is a comparison on how Chase and AMEX points can be transferred by linking up airline/hotel partner accounts with their transfer portals.

Check out ThePointsGuy’s article on how to transfer Capital One miles to transfer partners here.

I get into how to compare and book reward flights in the next article (click to follow to article).

Check out cards that earn points such as: Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, Sapphire Preferred and Reserve; AMEX Gold Card.

2 comments on “Basics Explained: Points and miles

  1. Pingback: How to compare and book reward flights? – TheCreditTraveler

  2. Pingback: The Credit Traveler | How do I travel for as less as possible?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: