Ways to Hoard Miles this Holiday (Buying) Season
I’m currently facing one tough decision: sassy new fall boots or New Year’s getaway? If only I could have both…or can I? With the economy taking a slide, Americans are thinking about everything from dining out to travel expenditures to big ticket buys. But, what if my fall wardrobe could actually pay for my weekend trip? Well…maybe it can.
According to the Wall Street Journal, more and more consumers are redeeming their frequent flier miles to help pay for their trips. The question is: are you well on your way to a free getaway? Or are you losing opportunities to accumulate miles? With the holiday travel (and buying) season coming up, there are a few things you can do that will get you closer to your trip.
Shop ‘til you drop.
That’s right…I’m encouraging you to buy, buy, buy! But, be mindful of where you spend and what card you use. Most airlines, such as United, Continental and Delta, have retail partners, allowing you to earn miles with your purchases. Look for these opportunities within your chosen program. I make a good majority of my online purchases through American’s e-shopping website – just login with your frequent flier number and access hundreds of retail sites to earn miles. You might as well get a little somethin’ somethin’ for those everyday purchases!
Choose a card that pays.
These days, you can’t get away with not having a credit card, so it’s best to choose a card that earns points toward future purchases. If you’re a traveler like me, it pays to charge up a card that accumulates miles, getting you closer to that weekend getaway or dream vacation. There are many cards out there, so do your homework and choose a card that fits your needs. [Warning: Shameless Plug Up Next!] Travelocity even has a MasterCard with no blackout dates and free travel starting at only 5,000 points.
Take the challenge.
There’s a top secret way to earn elite status, fast! Both United and American have programs that allow their frequent flier members to accumulate miles at a faster rate. United’s Award Accelerator allows customers to purchase redeemable Mileage Plus miles in addition to the miles they are already earning on a specific itinerary. American’s Platinum and Gold Challenges track your flights by using a point system. If you rack up enough points through flights within a three month period, you get either platinum or gold status.
Look for special offers.
Even though every frequent flier program is different, one thing is certain: they’ll try to lure you with special offers, so take advantage! Check in with your miles program before you send your mom flowers, buy a new home or sign up for new services. Recently, I got 2,500 miles for signing up for Netflix through my frequent flier program!
My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.
(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)
Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!
My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!
Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.
View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!