Accumulating More Frequent Flier Miles
These days, you don't have to be a frequent flier to earn frequent flier miles. Most miles, in fact, are earned on credit card purchases rather than through airline flights. But there are many kinds of cards, from those issued by banks and credit card companies to those affiliated with airlines or hotels, and choosing the right one can be tricky. "If the choices were clear-cut, there wouldn't be as many cards as there are," says Tim Winship, co-author of Mileage Pro: The Insider's Guide to Frequent Flyer Programs.
Winship favors concentrating your miles in a single program, and he suggests choosing a card affiliated with the airline you use most often. If you decide to participate in several programs, you may be best served by an American Express or Diners Club card, Winship says, because both allow you to transfer earned points to a variety of airline programs. If you tend to rack up a lot of credit card purchases, a bank card could help you accrue points redeemable for free tickets, and bank card fees are among the lowest fees, Winship says.
Last year, the Freddie Awards, the frequent traveler's Oscar®, named Alaska Airlines' Mileage Pal as program of the year for the third time in a row, with Southwest Airlines' Rapid Rewards in second place. Winship also likes American's AAdvantage program and United's Mileage Plus. Among affinity credit cards, the Starwood Preferred Guest card issued by American Express, the Citibank AAdvantage MasterCard, and the American Express Blue Key card are his favorites. See www.frequentflier.com for more detailed comparisons among card programs.