Airline miles

There are a variety of miles or points you can get from credit card sign ups.  An important one is airline miles.  You can get these from virtually all banks/airlines.  For example, Chase bank partners with United airlines, Southwest airlines, British Airways, Korean airlines,  Air France, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines.

Citibank partners with Asia miles, Eva Air, Etihad guest, Thai Airways, Quatar, Malaysia Air, Flying Blue, Singapore air, Quantas and Garuda Indonesia.  Haven’t even heard of some of those have you?

American Express partners with Air Canada, ANA, Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Air France, Alitalia, Aeromexico, EL Al, Emirates, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue, Virgin America and Virgin Atlantic.

So you can see that there are many ways you can fly around the world as each of these airlines has there own award chart and offer to accumulate their miles.  With so many options, where do you start?  Great question!  It really depends on what your travel goals are.  I’ll break down the options between international and domestic.

For international travel excluding Mexico and the Caribbean, I recommend looking into American Airlines and United Airlines.  I would include Delta here but I find they don’t often open up non-stop flights for award redemptions and award availability is lacking.  So you can get the AA credit card from Citibank and/or the United Airlines credit card from Chase bank.  Each give you 50,000 miles for use on their airlines (sometimes this amount drops, usually to around 30,000 miles so don’t get it then.  Wait until you find an offer of 50,000).  

Use AA and United for international travel.  They fly all over the world.  AA often has cheaper award rates (number of miles needed to fly) than United but often has more expensive taxes you have to pay.  There are many other airlines that offer cheaper rates than AA and United but that’s for you later as you get more advanced in your “miles burning” skillset.  

Now, you typically don’t want to use AA or United miles for domestic travel (including Mexico or Caribbean) as there are cheaper options.  For Domestic travel, I recommend Southwest, British Airways or using fixed value points or bank points (covered in another article) for cheap flights.  Southwest flies all over the country as well as Mexico and the Caribbean.  Their points (they use points not miles, same difference) are tied to their fare price so the cheaper their fare gets the less points you have to use to book the flight.  

AA and United charge a set 25,000 miles roundtrip per person for domestic travel.  With Southwest, you can often find cheaper than this, saving yourself some miles or points.  Now British Airways is very different.  They are distance-based in the number of miles (they call them avios) they charge.  The longer the flight, the more avios they charge you.  So if your flight is shorter, you can save a lot of avios/miles/points (I know, it gets a little confusing right?).  For example, if you book an AA flight to Cancun from Chicago, it is 30,000 AA miles but if you book that same exact flight on that same exact plane using British Airways avios, you only have to spend 20,000 avios.  Nice savings right?!?  

Obviously there is a lot to learn and a lot of options and moving parts.  If you take the time to learn them, you can find yourself flying to incredible places for next to nothing using the knowledge you’ve gained about miles and points.  

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