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Cashing in Your Frequent Flyer Miles

Cashing in frequent flyer miles for an actual ticket can sometimes seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But for those who persevere, the payoff can be big. Here are a few tips from our well-traveled talk forum members on how to make the most of your miles.

  • Tip #1: Call the airline early and often for tickets, especially for high season travel.
  • “The 331 day rule–did those of you who tried to reserved FF seats on the 331st day prior to travel have success?”

  • Tip #2: Consider buying the ticket and using the miles to upgrade.
  • “I can afford an $800 ticket to Paris. I cannot afford a $6000 first-class ticket to Paris. I used 80,000 miles to upgrade my husband and myself a couple of years ago. I feel like upgrades are the best use of FF miles if you do the math on what you are saving.” (more)

  • Tip #3: Use a credit card with FF benefits attached to it.
  • “Have used it with no problems. They don’t care what airline you fly and there’s no restrictions because the amount of miles you need is completely dependent on the cost of the ticket. They are simply buying a ticket from the airlines, so as long as a seat is available, and you have enough miles to cover the price, it’s yours.” (more)

  • Tip #4: Save your miles for longer (and more expensive) flights.
  • “That’s why I never use my miles for domestic flights—they just don’t seem good value when with a little planning you can get cheap flights anyway.” (more)

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  • Tip #5: The best gift ever—how to use your miles to buy a ticket for someone else.
  • “You cannot give miles to someone else, but you can use your miles to purchase tickets for anyone else.” (more)

  • Tip#6: Research all possible airlines; many are part of a larger alliance of carriers.
  • “One of the great things about FF tickets is that you have lots of options and you can combine flights on a variety of partner airlines.” (more)

  • Tip #7: Reserve your outbound flight as soon as FF seats become available; many airlines will allow you to book your inbound flight later.
  • “They kept the reservation for 3 weeks. Fortunately when I called, return seats were available. At that point, I finalized the whole reservation and paid with my FF miles.” (more)

    — Katie Hamlin

    Photo Credit: Ho John Lee

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