Are you a frequent flier? Then why not join a frequent-flier programme, rack up miles and get big discounts or even free flights?
Many airlines offer such programmes, and joining them means you can get a lot of perks if you snag extra miles. If you travel frequently and spend a lot of money in the process, then you can certainly find ways to save money.
We’ve covered the best ways frequent fliers can cut expenses effectively.
With amenities such as free Wi-Fi, snacks, drinks, glossy magazines and a calm, quiet environment, the airport lounge is every traveller’s dream when waiting out a long airport layover. Access to these lounges comes free of charge for first- or business-class passengers, but not for those who pay the lowest airfare. But this doesn’t mean you can’t gain access to worldwide airport lounges.
If you’re flying the same airline every time you travel, then consider getting an airline club membership, which will give you access to everything from free Wi-Fi to alliance clubs, such as Oneworld or Star Alliance. If you go this route, expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $400 annually for the membership. You’ll want to make sure that the destinations you’re planning to visit actually have these lounges. If you fly from or to a busy airport, chances are there’s at least one such lounge available to you.
A third-party vendor such as PriorityPass is another convenient way to get an airport lounge membership. Luckily, you can choose from three membership levels based on how frequently you fly, and how much you can afford. For $399, you get access to every single airport lounge in their network. If it’s too expensive for you, consider paying $249 for 10 free visits, with additional visits priced at $27 each. Or, you can buy the most basic membership, priced at $99, and pay $27 every time you access a lounge in their network.
Airlines like Delta Airlines, United Airlines and Australian Airlines offer loyalty programmes in the form of frequent-flier programmes. Joining such programmes means you can accumulate points that you can trade for free flights, travel class upgrades, priority bookings, airport lounge access, or other goods and services. To accumulate points, you need to rank up miles corresponding to the distance flown on that airline (or partners).
More recently, credit card companies have partnered with airlines to create co-branded credit cards that can be used for the purchase of goods and miles accumulation. The more frequently you use the card to pay for groceries and other goods or services, the more points/miles you accumulate (which can be redeemed). Signing up for such a card will probably award you 50,000 – 100,000 miles as a sign-up bonus. The card can also be used for purchasing merchandise sold by an affiliated company, which will also get you extra miles/points.
Keep in mind that you should never go into debt just for getting free flights or other such perks. “You shouldn’t sign up for a card just to get miles if it is going to require you to spend extra money,” says Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt. As a rule of thumb, you should always stick to a travel credit card that has a spending requirement of less than $1,000, and an annual fee below $100. There are some credit cards that don’t require annual fees, so those will be good for you if you can’t commit to paying them.
It’s great to get an airline credit card, especially if you fly a particular airline exclusively. But if you’re always searching for the best price regardless of the airline, consider getting a credit card that offers flexibility, such as Chase Sapphire Preferred — the reward points you earn can be used for a variety of airlines and hotels, so you get more options to choose from.
Ready to get started on accumulating miles and points? If you’re a frequent traveller, you’ll want to get your travel insurance in place, just to make sure you’ll be fully covered in the event you’ll be in a medical emergency, or your flight is delayed/cancelled.
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