An Introduction to Frequent Flyer Programs and Portals

So far on this blog we have covered ways to leverage credit card bonuses as a way to get cheap flights and airlines miles.  Another staple in any travelhacker’s toolbox is the use of frequent flyer programs and their related shopping and dining portals.

The first step for anyone interested in travel hacking should be to sign up for frequent flyer programs and hotel loyalty programs of interest.  In order to receive credit for miles flown and to be eligible for statues or special offers the airlines must have your account information so they can deposit your miles accordingly.  For example, on an upcoming trip from Phoenix to San Francisco and back the three of us will be flying on United and all three of us have United Frequent Flyer accounts (Mileageplus accounts) that will earn us each 1,302 award miles:

uSFO

This may not seem like a ton of miles, but every little bit counts in this game, I mean you are going to take the trip anyway you might as well get the miles for it.  It’s important to note to that airlines add multipliers for premium cabins so if you were to fly this same flight in business class you might get 150% of the miles flown and first class might be 200% bonus since the tickets cost much more than a standard economy seat.

AAshopping

While most of you may be familiar with frequent flyer mileage programs, you may not know about shopping portals.  Most major domestic and international carriers have shopping rewards portal that offers you bonus miles per dollar spent at many online stores where you’re already spending money. If you shop through the American Airlines portal and are looking to buy shoes through New Balance’s online store you will earn an additional 4 miles per dollar spent.  The portal simply allows your browser cookies to link to your frequent flyer account and once the money is spent the additional miles will be credited to your American Airlines account.  If you were already planning on spending $100 at New Balance you will now be rewarded with an additional 400 frequent flier miles without paying any more money, all you need to do is shop through the portal.  There are hundreds of stores where you can take advantage of these portals such as Target, Home Depot, Staples, Groupon, Sears, Lowes, Kohls, etc.  Each airline has their own portal and one we use often is Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.  Last week, we bought a new carry on travel backpack for Jennifer and a quick search through the ultimate rewards portal showed me that ebags was offering 10 pts/$ .  For the same $145 bag that was on amazon, I bought it for $145 (free shipping as well) and earned over 1400 ultimate reward points on top of it by purchasing through the ebags Ultimate Rewards shopping portal:

curIn a later post we will discuss dining portals — the dining portals work much in the same way as shopping portals but work with restaurants that are linked to your credit card.  Until then, be sure to register you and your family for frequent flyer programs and start with the ones that you are most likely to use based on your home airport.  These programs are free to join and are easy to create online.  Some of our favorites are:

American Airlines Shopping

Delta Skymiles Shopping

US AIrways Dividend Miles Storefront

Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping

Start getting credit and earning miles for purchases and flights you already make and take.

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