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  1. #1

    • Man O Lantern
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    Doing the Miles Thing?

    I'm clueless how to earn miles and what to use them for.

    I think I've finally earned enough miles through Alaska Air to get a one-way ticket...but I only earned it by flying to Disneyland a dozen times in the past few years.

    It just occurred to us with the house we're building that we could be putting some of our many hundreds of thousands of dollars of expenses on a card to earn miles or rewards, then pay it off with the mortgage draw account we have for building. As it is, we're just using the debit card that goes toward our eventual mortgage.

    We're clueless how to get started, how to find the right card and program and how to pay off the balance without being charged interest for the purchases.

    All you mileage-savvy people, I could really use your help!! We'd like to travel again with the kids and it's so spendy to fly anywhere as a family of five anymore!

  2. #2

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    First thing is to decide what airline (or airline group) you want to fly. I suggest the major carrier in your city. For example, my major air carrier is American Airlines, so that's who I collect miles with.

    I have their personal and business credit cards, so I collect miles for every purchase I make on the card and I pay for anything I can on the card. I would only recommend this if you pay off your balance at the end of the month only, otherwise the interest charges wouldn't make it worth it. There are a few other ways to collect miles as well, like American's shoppers and dining programs. If you're ever thinking of refinancing your mortgage, you can always refinance with a company that offers miles. I did that once too.

    To use your miles, you need to be able to plan way ahead to get frequent flyer seats. If you usually travel last minute, or don't know your travel plans way in advance, it's not worth it to collect miles. The airlines limit this space by sometimes only 2 or 4 seats per flight and forget it if you want to use it for holidays.

    This past May, we went to Alaska using our miles and I had reserved it 330 days in advance. The downside to that is that the airlines often make changes to their schedules, so we had to be very flexible because of that.

    In any case, good luck and let me know if you have any questions.


  3. #3

    • Man O Lantern
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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Thank you! My husband has a business account with Bank of America and another with Wells Fargo. We do our personal banking with another bank...and then our mortgage is through another. I hate to add another layer here, but if we could get some travel arranged (I'm a planner!) by using mileage, I'm up for it.

    Anyone else with any tips?

    So if you pay off your balance at the end of the month, there's never interest accruing?

  4. #4

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    We have a Alaska Air credit card. We use it for things you would normally use your debit card for (so everything). However, we put it as a withdrawl in the check book, just as if we did use our debit card.

    When the bill comes we pay it in full because the money is aready set aside. Nearly all of our purchase go to the mileage card and we dont get charged interest.

  5. #5

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    DH and I started doing this while we were planning our wedding. We signed up for the United Mileage Visa through Chase (although it used to be First USA). We put as many vendors/bills on the card as possible. Now we put practically everything on the card and accrue the miles pretty quickly. Things like groceries, gas, work expenses that get reimbursed, travel, furniture that we've saved up for, dinners out etc. We got the card in 2003 some time and have since redeemed two RTs to Maui, one RT to Orlando, two RTs to Ireland, and a couple of hotel stays. It does have a $60 annual fee, but I think it's been well worth it. DH's work even used to reimburse this, so it really was win win. There's also a Platinum UA Mileage Visa that's $120 a year, but you accrue miles faster and there's more bonuses.

    We always pay it off in full each month. It's easy to just "charge-it", but we've been pretty good about staying within our means. The only time I had to pay interest is when I stupidly used it to get some travelers checks, and didn't realize that counted as a cash advance.

  6. #6

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Great suggestions!

    I'm a Star Alliance kind of guy. United has some great city pairs from LAX which is why I chose them. In the U.S. I also earn miles on USAirways, AND those miles go towards elite status on United too!

    I'm a mileage whore. I try and fly 25,000 miles a year to keep my Premier status (in fact I'm taking a day trip mileage run to Philly and back the end of September).

    I do have a United credit card that earns me miles, but I have the one that doesn't have an annual fee, but I only early 1 mile per $2 spent (compared to 1 mile per dollar with the one with an annual fee). It get's me enough extra miles just to have.

    I also earn miles at Vons every time I shop. I think you spend $200 and get 150 miles, or something like that.

    You can also earn miles by dining at restaurants that are a part of the program, or you can shop for things online through the United website and earn them that way. Of course there's also hotel and car rentals.

    And I don't use my miles for free trips. It's more important to me to fly First class. Keeping my Premier status usually ensures that I am cleared for First using miles when I buy my tickets. But my sister and husband use their credit card for their business and end up with enough miles for them to take a few free trips to Hawaii every year.

    I know Alaska and American are partners, but I also know that Alaska isn't a part of a global network. Something to think about is maybe switching to a carrier that is a part of an alliance (United - Star Alliance, American - oneworld, Delta or Continental - SkyTeam).

  7. #7

    • Man O Lantern
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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Man, so much to think about.....

    Thank you, everyone! I need to commit to a plan here really soon--my husband is pressuring me. Alaska Air is a major carrier here and they work with American, don't they?

  8. #8

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    I used to do the miles credit card thing until we had kids and it is nearly impossible to use miles for tickets for 4 where/when we want to go. I suggest the Disney visa. I use it for my business travel, which is fairly frequent and love having the "free money" to spend at DL. My husband laughs at me because he thinks I'll let him buy tv's and such just to earn Disney dollars.

  9. #9

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Stink -- I know my mom has the Alaska card and LOVES it. She gets companion fares for $50 a lot too, if I understand her correctly. Safeway has a program that allows you to connect your frequent shopper card to the airmiles somehow.

    I have the Disney Visa and it's nice to have the extra $ when you get to DL, but I'd rather have the airfare paid to actually GET there! I don't think I've had more than $200 or so on any trips to DL and that largest one was from a combination of booking an 8 day trip including DLH thru Disney Travel when they were offering triple points and paying most of our bills for a few months with the card.

    Wow...not a lot of help!
    I love my awesome crazy wonderful friends!!

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  10. #10

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkerbell View Post
    Alaska Air is a major carrier here and they work with American, don't they?
    I think so. We have not ventured much outside of where Alaska goes yet.

    Also the Alaska cards use Bank of America so your husband could maybe get a Business one linked up with his buisness account. Then those would be in one place. If you do that you may be able to link a personal Alaska card to the same mileage plan as well... however, I am not savvy enough to have a clue how, or if that would work.

    Most carriers give you bonus miles for signing up with a credit card as well.

    Also if you already have an Alaska mileage number you can link that up to a card. I know I had a mileage plan with them before I got the card and they just added the card stuff to it.
    Last edited by LLEBREKNIT; 08-16-2007 at 02:27 PM.

  11. #11

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    So it sounds like family travel may not be an option using miles? I've only now collected enough miles to get a one-way ticket on Alaska, but haven't tried to redeem it.

    My husband doesn't need to know that, as we rack up miles (for me to go to MiceChat meets, I guess).

  12. #12

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    I'm pretty sure you can use them for family travel. I have friends who have a business card attached to mileage and I know she flew the family down to DL for a trip last year (and the year before...). Have you looked at the websites for different air miles cards?
    I love my awesome crazy wonderful friends!!

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    then 10 seconds later you’d be playing like you were best friends?"
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  13. #13

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    No. I seriously have no idea how to get started. I'm that far behind. I'm used to just getting credit card offers, not having to seek them out!

  14. #14

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Quote Originally Posted by stinkerbell View Post
    I'm clueless how to earn miles and what to use them for.
    !

    I work for a bank that has Alaska Airlines cards. If you apply for a new one, before the end of August, you get 20,000 mileage points which is enough to buy a round trip ticket!! I applied for 2 and got them! ha! That is 2 round trip tickets for me and hubby to fly to DL!!!!!!!!!!

    We used to earn a TON of them when hubby traveled on business. We haven't paid for an airline ticket in years.....literally. As they get depleted, I realized other ways to earn miles.

    Check the hotel where you stay to see if they give mileage for your stay. (Hilton hotels do.) Also, the rental car places do. I've earned miles for Hertz, for years. I also earn mileage at Safeway! I know, sounds nuts, but, a lot of airlines have mileage affiliations everywhere. I have both United air miles and Alaska air miles. If you check their websites, they normally have a list! Even some long distance carriers offer miles! AND....when I refinanced my home, years ago, we got miles for that too!

  15. #15

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    Re: Doing the Miles Thing?

    Miles are miles. Whether you use them for family or yourself, the airline doesn't care where or how you earned them. Just as long as you have the miles in the airlines account, that's what matters.

    Like I mentioned my sisters situation. They earn miles with a company credit card on Delta. Those miles are in their Delta frequent flyer account with the airline, Delta doesn't care if those miles are from a business credit card or a car rental.

    And that's what she's using to take her 2 girls for a girls weekend to Hawaii in a month with, miles.

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