Frequent Flyer Miles for the Occasional Fliers

By: Manoj B

For the occasional flyer, it's easy to forget about the accumulation of frequent flyer miles. However, if possible, you should try to remember to book a flight before your miles expire. Take advantage of the points you have earned, even if it's from only a few flights!

Until recently, most programs require travelers to fly at least once in three years to keep the miles alive. However, more recently, airlines are tightening their screws on latent frequent flyer accounts meaning, your miles are not safe unless there's some kind of activity in your account.

Ideally, the best way to reap more benefits is to pick a program that suits you best. Try accumulating as many miles as possible with one airline or credit card, and use that airline or its partners for faster rewards, either as free flights or elite traveler perks. So, bring your options down to one major carrier.

If you fly into or out of an airport, which is the hub of a major carrier, you'll want to fly frequently with that airline. Most business travelers, flying several times a month, aim for the perks and services that come with the elite class status. But if you're one of those who don't fly that often, your objective will probably be a free flight. For that to happen, occasional leisure travelers will require 20,000-25,000 miles over a period of time.

Even though you might be an infrequent flyer, you will want to have some kind of activity on the account every couple of years. Be sure to check the date of expiration while choosing a program. For instance, Continental Airline's Onepass and United 's Mileage Plus miles are valid for 18 months. Similarly, Delta's Sky Miles are valid for 2 years. Be sure to check the requirements and dates for your specific program.

If you do not have enough miles for a trip even after two years, you can use them for non-travel rewards such as subscriptions. But if you want to accumulate more miles so that you may win free flight for the next vacation, there are ways other than flying.

Frequent flyer credit card signup programs can earn you as many as 20,000 bonus miles for a mere sign up. This can be a great jump-start. You can earn miles while shopping and eating using that miles card. Besides, cards such as American Express or Diner's Club gives points for each purchase. One can convert these points into miles for participating airlines.

In the end, read the fine print carefully and keep an eye on your mileage figures as well as the airline's figures. Check your program's newsletter, which will keep you abreast of additional way to earn miles.

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