Traveling Tip Tuesday – Tip #1:
First thing’s first – sign up for an airline’s frequent-flyer program (FFP) before any traveling. PERIOD. You may be thinking, “I will never use this airline again,” or “I don’t want to waste my time,” but registering for the FFP does have its perks… and I have yet to find a drawback in signing up for one!
Most customer-savvy airlines recognize and reward loyalty and FFP membership shows just that. By having a basic program number, you may log on to the airline’s website and choose your seat preferences (aisle seat, anyone?), review and change your itineraries, and be greeted by name at check-in in addition to accruing miles from your travel. Also, lost luggage tagged in the name of an FFP member may also find its way home faster because the member’s contact info is on file.
Now that you took the two minutes to register for a FFP, you now can start racking up your miles. Even if you have no travel plans on the horizon, you could easily earn enough for an award ticket to a great destination by doing things you would be doing anyways. My favorite way to earn miles (besides the actual “travel” part) is through the shopping websites linked to the airline. Here is a list of the most popular sites:
- Delta Skymiles Program: www.skymilesshopping.com
- American Airlines AAdvantage Program: www.aadvantageeshopping.com
- United MileagePlus Program: www.mileageplusshopping.com
Merchants like The Apple Store, Sephora, and Walmart strike up a deal with the airlines so that when you make purchases through the airline’s special website, the merchant rewards the airline for attracting that customer with real money and then the customer is rewarded with a mileage credit (free for the airlines to dish out). You simply visit the shopping website, log on with your FFP number, click on the merchant you want to use, and then their website opens up in a new window. Make a purchase from that website, and for every dollar you spend (excluding tax, shipping/handling), you get miles!
Each merchant has a different offer, for example: J.Crew offers 2 miles per dollar, whereas Sephora offers 3 miles per dollar. The merchants may offer specials too (“8 miles per dollar for a limited time!”). Shop around for merchants that give you the most bang for your buck.
The crucial part in making this work in your favor: REMEMBER TO GO TO THE AIRLINE’S SHOPPING SITE FIRST. You cannot retroactively earn miles for purchases you did not make originally through the airline’s website. In-store purchases also do not count towards your mileage.
So maybe I am interested in buying the Rosetta Stone software to brush up on my high school Spanish skills. I choose Delta Airlines (a SkyTeam partner) as the airline for which I want the miles to accrue. I go to www.skymilesshopping.com, log on with my FFP number, and click “Rosetta Stone”. A new window opens to the Rosetta Stone website and I make my purchase of $499.00. The deal is 6 miles per dollar, so I will receive 2994 miles credited to my Skymiles account within 45 days. Done!
I just checked the Delta website, and an award ticket from Pittsburgh to Paris for the “Low Price” of the Award Travel Calendar costs 60,000 miles with $91.00 in taxes. You can see how simple purchases for birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas can turn into VERY CHEAP travel! Happy shopping!