Rules for maximizing frequent flyer points
Thursday, August 9, 2012
A recent article in The Sydney Morning Herald reminded readers that frequent flier points aren't overly difficult for today's modern business traveler to rack up, with many getting points from every flight taken, every corporate lodging selected and each swipe of the credit card. The news source revealed five rules frequent travelers may want to keep in mind when spending their "hard-earned points" to make sure they maximize the benefits.
The No. 1 rule for business travelers is not to waste points by spending them at an airline's online frequent flier store. SMH advised travelers to think about their points as if they are a "unique currency" with a particular value assigned to them. The source said, "The trick is that while frequent flier points have an actual value, it isn't fixed. Your points can be worth more or less depending on how you spend them."
Upgrades and special seating
SMH revealed that a great way for business travelers to use their coveted points is to purchase an economy ticket that is "upgradable" and to then use frequent flier points for the upgrade. Using points for seat upgrades can mean more room to stretch out during a flight and a higher level of comfort. In this way, travelers can arrive at their spacious serviced apartments in good shape, not having suffered the physical demands of a cramped economy seat.
Use caution with advertised "free" flights and don't be afraid to ask for a little help
SMH offered the tip to "think twice about 'free' flights," and recommended travelers always look for the best possible fare before moving to use their points. The source said, "Using your points when tickets are already very cheap gives your points an effective 'exchange rate' that's well below their worth. If you're just looking for a cheap flight, buy a ticket."
Travel agents can be great for finding corporate deals and convenient pricing, but may not be the most helpful resource for travelers trying to figure out the best way to use their points, according to SMH. The source said there are businesses that can provide expert advice to road warriors, such as Flightfox, which facilitates online contests where flight experts around the globe compete to find travelers the most affordable deals on the best flights.
Flightfox explains on its website that its service is about finding travelers not only the cheapest flights but the best flights. This means that the options is comes up with may be business class rather than coach or could mean using frequent flier points when booking. Services such as these could prove to be a valuable asset for business travelers looking for the best routes for their individual point balances.
The best use?
Alpha Flight Guru recently said that in the warm months of July, August and September, there will be an estimated 140 million American travelers. The source referenced another recent survey conducted by American Express that revealed 19 percent of summer travelers plan to use frequent flier points and miles to fund their various travel plans, which is up from 15 percent in summer of 2011.
Tim Gibson, CEO of Alpha Flight Guru, maintained that international luxury and business class travel is the best use of points and miles obtained from loyalty programs. He said, "When you fly internationally in business or first class, the savings could be as high as 5 cents for every dollar spent on credit cards."
Gibson said airlines, credit card companies and other corporate accommodations providers give away about $50 billion worth of reward points each year. However, a number companies and individual travelers are not making the most out of the cost-saving benefits that are available because they aren't utilizing their travel cards and rewards points as effectively as possible.