· Swipe The Plastic:
If your credit is decent and you aren’t buying a vacation villa anytime soon, an airline rewards credit card is a great deal. Most of them offer a hefty mileage bonus and any annual fees are usually waived for the first year. United Airlines has a 30,000-mile bonus with one of their credit cards, and all you have to do is spend $250. After that you’ll be getting one mile per dollar spent—time to renovate the kitchen! That should easily be enough for a domestic reward ticket as long as you are flexible with your dates.
Credit cards are a touchy subject for some, especially during the current economic situation, but luckily there's also checking accounts. For a nominal annual fee—usually less than $75—you can get a check card linked to your favorite airline. Delta has teamed with SunTrust bank and is offering a 15,000-mile bonus for signing up for their check card. Continental Airlines has a similar relationship with Chase and through the end of the year you can earn up to a 25,000-mile bonus. If you’re a heavy holiday shopper make sure every dollar you spend is going toward your favorite airline program.
· Complain About It:
If your flight was more disastrous than usual and you’ve had to contact the airline multiple times in search of a little help you should complain. Complaining to get what you want is the unofficial American way, so don’t feel badly, and just do it. We recently had an issue with an award ticket refund due to a schedule change. Several telephone calls and faxes later absolutely nothing was resolved. We finally sent in a polite email and copied key members of the executive team, and within hours things were resolved and we were credited with 5,000 miles for our trouble—not too shabby. Just make sure you exhaust the normal channels of customer service first, don’t start at the top. If you need a little help with writing the perfect love note to customer service, check out Christopher Elliott or the folks at The Consumerist.
· Rent A Car:
Picking out a rental car isn’t necessarily all about the best deal, because it might be worth an extra few bucks if there’s a promotion that rewards you a few extra miles. Through the end of the year Alamo is teaming up with Southwest Airlines and awarding travelers with triple Rapid Rewards credits. American Airlines and Budget are offering triple mile and 40% off normal rates with qualifying rentals. Just a couple years ago Budget was offering a deal with Delta that awarded renters with 9,999 miles for just any reservation. Let’s just say that we fully took advantage of that offer, despite the fact that one of our cars was a PT Cruiser.
· Everything Else:
There’s plenty of ways to earn some extra miles from your couch as well. If you aren’t a member of Netflix, now’s a great time to sign up, as every airline seems to offer a bonus of at least 1,000 miles. Just pay your monthly membership and the miles will be all yours. It’s also nice to earn some extra love and miles by ordering flowers for a rich relative. They’ll be delighted to hear from you, bonus miles will get you one step closer to paradise, and you will be fresh in their mind when they write up their will—terrible, we know.
There's plenty of other ways to get miles for money you'd be spending anyway. For a current list of the best promotions with some of the major airlines just follow the links below and you'll be on your way:
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