Most people view mileage cards as they do frequent flyer cards. In most ways they are identical. When mileage points were introduced by airlines several years ago the program was so popular that many credit card companies began offering mileage cards in collaboration with the airlines.
Typically, one mile was awarded for each dollar charged to the card. This was an incentive for customers to use their cards for all their purchases in order to build up the number of miles available to them.
In exchange, the mileage cards could be used to get special deals on hotel rooms, car rentals, airline tickets and other special promotion items.
Accumulated miles are seen as the same as currency but many times customers would build up their mileage by using their card at every opportunity only to find the miles wouldn’t apply to where they want to go.
If you travel frequently, a mileage card may be perfect for you but before charging one purchase after another to “get miles”, consider the following pointers:
Using accumulated miles for free flights is often the best use. Maximize your mileage by using them for longer flights.
Mileage is useful for upgrading your flight from economy to business or first class seating. Unless you have a lot of miles available you might not want to use them for upgrades on short hops. If your miles are limited, consider buying economy tickets and spending your miles only on the upgrade.
3. Travel Restrictions
It’s a good idea to read the fine print about planning your travel itinerary if you plan to use some of your accumulated mileage. Some mileage cards allow open-end flights where you leave from one city and return from another, others permit a stopover, but some have tight restrictions that might keep you from using your available miles.
4. Hotel Rooms
Miles can save money for you when booking hotel rooms and can often be used for other hotel services during your stay.
5. Rental Cars
Renting cars with miles is popular but restrictions vary widely with various mileage cards. If you plan to use miles you earn to reduce the cost of rental cars be certain to check the terms carefully before applying.
Some airline specific cards offer restaurant certificates in exchange for miles. This is a benefit to evaluate cautiously to see if converting the miles is a real benefit in using restaurants.
7. Cruise Lines
There may be a minimum mile requirement for this redemption but cruise trips are often booked using accumulated miles.
8. Shopping Online
Some websites encourage the use of mile exchanges to purchase their products. On many of the sites, customers can bid on these items with mileage.
The choice of items is often limited and may be of questionable quality. Calculate the money value of the miles to decide if buying that item would be a good deal or not.
9. Et Cetera
If you have only a few miles to spend or have miles that will soon expire, you might search for miscellaneous purchases that can be made or be purchased at a reduced price with a combination of cash (or credit) and miles.
If buying magazine subscriptions or similar small purchases that also require money as well as miles be sure to check pricing to see if spending your miles is really giving you a bargain.
10. Bonus Offers – Get More Miles
There are many sites that offer updated lists of purchases that will earn “bonus miles”. You may find an offer for an item you are planning to purchase.
If you can buy it now and also earn extra miles at the same time, it might be a double bonus for you. Make sure you don’t miss our guide on best reward programs as well!