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Momliz Jan 31st, 2006 08:25 PM

Best ways to get FF miles?
I do not travel for business, so what would be the best way to acumulate many FF miles? I have a rewards credit card that I use to get miles, and I'm signed up with the two programs that I think I will use the most - Delta and United. I have used Delta and AF recently and will again, as much I can afford. Anything else? I guess most people fly a lot for business, and really rack them up that way?

A_Traveller Feb 1st, 2006 06:42 AM

There are really only two major ways to earn FF miles. The first is to actually fly on a given airline and the second is to make purchases using a credit card that will earn you miles. You've already done both of those. Since you do not fly frequently you have to concentrate on earning "credit card" miles. You'd be surprised how many FF miles you can accumulate if you charge everyday expenses to your credit card. Keep in mind, however, that while "credit card" miles can be used to claim award tickets and upgrades they do not count toward earning elite FF status with any airline. Also, if you don't pay your credit card purchases off in full each month your monthly finance charges will more than offset any potential benefit you'd derive from getting upgrades or award tickets so don't fall into that trap. You can also earn miles (to a lesser degree) by staying at certain hotels, using certain long distance telephone services, shopping at certain stores, etc. You'll see these promotions in newspaper ads, junk mailings, and other advertisements. Sign-up or use the ones that fit your life style.

Use the search feature above and you'll find litterally hundres of posts on this very subject.

wally34949 Feb 1st, 2006 07:12 AM

A Traveller gave great information.

If you are working and only have short vacations, and do not charge a lot on a credit card, consider getting a Bank Visa Rewards card. With the rewards money, you can buy your own ticket from the cheapest airline. Many airlines double the miles needed for a ticket during the summer.

But if you can travel on the days the airlines have the available seats for FF miles, and don't mind paying the annual fee the airlines charge, it is worth consideration.

rkkwan Feb 1st, 2006 08:52 AM

I agree with wally. In general if you don't fly too often, don't get a credit card that earns airline miles. [One exception among others - if you spend a lot on your credit card; and you fly mainly first/business class]

DL is partner with American Express. I believe if you have a Gold AE already, you can get the basic Delta Skymiles card for free. Or get an AE Membership Reward card (pretty high fee) - as with that card, you can transfer miles to multiple airline programs, including DL and CO. I believe you can transfer miles to USAirways too, which you can use those US miles to fly on UA...

There are many many ways, but again, a cash reward card is the simplest. Unless you have no self-control and just spend the cash on something else, and can never have enough money to buy a plane ticket.

wally34949 Feb 1st, 2006 09:59 AM

You can always book a flight with Delta to South Africa and get miles with Delta and fly on South African Airways. Free drinks :-)

or book a flight on the Continental web site and fly with Virgin to England and get miles with Continental and "free drinks" with Virgin. :-)

or book a flight to Australia on and fly Qantas. You will get miles with AA but get drinks with Qantas. :-)

or fly to Paris on Air France but book it on the Delta web site. You will get miles with Delta and drinks with Air France. :-)

Wally's full of smiles on this one. Glad rkkwan agrees.

Patty Feb 1st, 2006 10:33 AM

How much do you expect to charge per year and what type of rewards credit card do you have now? If you charge a lot, I'd suggest using a credit card that deposits miles into your Delta or UA account rather than a bank reward card where the 'miles' are not combinable with miles earned from flying. If you don't charge a lot and don't fly a lot, then it may not be worth the annual fee.

Card options for earning Delta miles include the Amex Delta Skymiles credit cards, Amex Starwood card, and Amex charge cards with Membership Rewards. The Skymiles cards come in Basic, Gold, and Platinum versions.

The Platinum Skymiles card comes with a standard 15K mile sign up bonus of which 5K are MQM's (Medallion Qualification Miles). You earn an additional 10K MQM's for each membership year that you charge at least $25K to the card. There are often better offers than the standard offer. A recent one which expired in December offered a 50K sign up bonus and another 50K after charging $25K in the first year of membership. The annual fee for the Platinum Skymiles card is $135 and Amex rarely, if ever, waives this fee. You do get a reduced fee if you have an Amex charge card.

The Gold Skymiles card comes with a standard sign up bonus of 10K miles, but there are frequently better offers of up to 20K-25K sign up bonuses. The annual fee is $85 (again reduced if you also have a charge card) but there's almost always a fee free offer for the first year. The Gold card doesn't earn any MQM's.

I've never seen any significant sign up bonuses with the basic Skymiles card. You can always get the Gold card fee free for the first year and downgrade to basic later.

The advantage of the Amex Starwood card is the low annual fee ($30, usually free first year) and the ability to transfer to a number of airline programs (the transfer ratio to UA is poor). You also get an additional bonus of 5K miles for every 20K miles transferred. The sign up bonuses however are usually pretty minimal.

I wouldn't bother with Membership Rewards unless you already have an Amex charge card or you want the ability to transfer miles to multiple programs (but then the Starwood card gives you that option for a much lower annual fee).

Don't get any of the Amex cards with the word Options in the name as they only earn at half the rate of the other cards.

I'm not that familiar with UA affiliated cards but there's usually a first year free offer with a 20K sign up bonus floating around out there for the Mileage Plus visa.

You can check the Delta, Amex and UA boards at and for current credit card offers as well as other ways of earning miles.

mrwunrfl Feb 1st, 2006 11:37 AM

Momliz, The BEST way to accummulate FF miles would be to travel for pleasure.

I just got a United Mileage Plus Visa card again. The cards give a bunch of miles, 17,500 or 20,000 miles, maybe 25,000 depending on where you sign up. But the card has a fee. I think that the signup mileage bonus is worth the fee for the first year. You could get a card, keep it for a year, then cancel it and get a new one. Some people get multiple cards.

One version of the card gives 5000 elite status miles in addition to the redeemable bonus miles and earns an elite mile per $ spent on UA tickets. Also 2x or 3x redeemable miles per $ spent on tickets. The annual fee is being fully or partly waived because they gave me 1K status in December (on only 38,000 flight miles/ 54,000 elite miles for the year; this year I am going to try to actually earn the 100,000 status miles, all with pleasure travel and bonus EQMs)

There are lots of ways to earn United MP miles:,6722,1249,00.html

wally34949 Feb 2nd, 2006 03:48 AM

I just got a British Airways card and when you book a flight on the BA website, you get double miles for the cost of the flight. Example: a $900 ticket would be 1,800 miles. Do all airline cards do this?

A_Traveller Feb 2nd, 2006 06:49 AM

Wally - many airlines run promotions like the one you describe with your BA credit card but they are never permanent. For instance AA use to do that but they stopped the practice quite some time ago. You have to check the particular airline affinity card to see what is being offered at any given time.

Dick Feb 2nd, 2006 11:07 AM

A_Traveller is right about watching for promotions.

I've gotten enough promotional miles (opening up brokerage account, transferring balances, etc) to have picked up well over 20,000 worth of tickets.

I try to put as much as I can on my CC for miles. Before writing a check for home improvements, tuition, or other services....I always ask if they take VISA.

gail Feb 2nd, 2006 01:39 PM

We charge our kid's college tuition and expenses each year. Those miles get him back and forth to college for Christmas break. That plus charging all of husbands business travel expenses on same card (later reimbursed by company) plus his actual airmiles - and we get multiple free tickets/year.

Sunnyboy Feb 2nd, 2006 02:19 PM

To reiterate what A_Traveller pointed out, using a credit card to accumulate miles only makes economic sense if you pay off your balance in full every month otherwise accumulated finance charges will be more than the value of the free ticket.

Popolo Feb 11th, 2006 08:20 AM

This is a really cute tool for getting lots of miles when flying:

You enter the route (for example, NYC to PEK), and it shows all the double miles offers for that route.

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