One of the best kept secrets about airline reward cards is the level of restrictions placed on a cardholderâ€™s ability to redeem their miles. While a person may rack up more points than they know what to do with, the point amount/value is useless to them unless they take the appropriate steps to get the most out of their reward program.
Rule One: Plan Your Trip Well in Advance
The first and most common mistake made by most first-time airline point redeemers is the failure to allot adequate time for their credit card company to book a trip. Simply put, a cardholder may decide to take a trip to New York or Hawaii one morning only to discover that their points wonâ€™t allow for them to book a seat on such short notice. This usually happens because credit card companies and the airliners they partner up with agree to a certain number of seats on a flight that may be used for reward program users. In other words, a flight might only be at 50% capacity, but this doesnâ€™t change the fact that the airline will only allow 5% of the flight to purchase their tickets with miles earned from their rewards card. Allowing ample time for your trip ensures that you will be allowed to book your ticket with the points you worked so hard to earn; most credit card companies suggest that you plan at least 1 to 2 months in advance.
Rule Two: Use Your Airline Miles for Less Popular Destinations
If planning your trip in advance just isnâ€™t your style, you can take a different approach and use your points for less popular donations. While New York and Hawaii may sound like a nice getaway, you can bet that there are countless others with reward points just like you who have the same idea. Many of our clients have written in to share their success stories about redeeming their points to make much-needed family visits, middle-of-the-night business trips, or even spontaneous flights to â€œplaces I wouldnâ€™t visit normally but have always wanted to go.â€ If your schedule doesnâ€™t permit you to make plans 1-2 months in advance, then redeeming your airline points for trips to lesser trafficked areas is a sure fire way to get the most out of your reward program.
Rule Three: Be Suspiciously Aware of your Expiration Policy
More airline reward customers lose points or miles to expiration policies than do those who actually redeem the miles for airline tickets. In other words, customers become suddenly aware that their miles will expire in just a few weeks and will scramble to make plans to use their points lest they be lost forever. Since this scramble to use up the points will no doubt prove difficult when finding seats to desirable destinations (to say nothing about getting enough time off from work or other obligations) more people look back at their rewards program and wish they knew more details about when their points expire. Most cards have a 1-3 year expiration policy (this will vary from card to card) so you would be well advised to make a note to begin using up your points within that window.
Team Your Credit Network