Whether you travel a lot or a little, you are hopefully earning miles and points towards free travel. The Internet has provided travelers with a wealth of information about how to best earn, organize, and redeem loyalty program miles and points. But, it can sometimes be overwhelming. Here is a selection of the best free websites for frequent flyers.
Tired of searching through a mess of account numbers and passwords every time you want to log in to a different program's website? Award Wallet to the rescue. This organizational tool is a must for any traveler. It keeps all of your account numbers, passwords and, best of all – your points balances – in one place.
With a quick glance, you can assess all of your airline, hotel, credit card and other awards programs, and with one click, even log directly into the programs' sites. It will also send you a weekly email updating you of any changes in your points balances.
There are some people out there extremely addicted to the "miles and points game." They search out all the best deals and promotions so you don't have to. Just keep all of these blogs in your RSS reader and check the headlines daily.
The majority of the discussions focus on credit card bonuses, but there are also frequent links to short videos and promos through which you can earn hundreds, or even thousands, of points. This is also a good place to look when booking award tickets, as they offer lots of tips and advice. Warning: it can become rather addictive!
If you have some spare time on your hands, why not check out e-Miles? Sign up, take some surveys and earn miles – at no cost to you. Though the miles won't add up quickly, it costs nothing more than your time.
(Hint: Earn close to 500 miles, but not quite. When the US Airways Grand Slam promotion comes around in the fall, you can quickly reach the 500 point mark, transfer your miles to US Airways, and gain a valuable "hit" for the promotion, which, in turn, can garner you several thousand miles.)
When you shop online, you better be using an awards program shopping portal. If not, you're throwing miles away. These portals will give you extra awards just for logging in before shopping at all of your favorite online merchants. It is difficult, however, to keep track of which merchants are affiliated with which awards programs, and which ones offer the most points per dollar.
Enter, ev'reward. Just type in the name of the store at which you are shopping, and it will list affiliated awards programs, points offered, and even coupon codes. Take outdoor company Sierra Trading Post, for example. You can see that United Airlines only offers 1 point/dollar, whereas Chase Ultimate Rewards offers 3 points/dollar. If you make a $100 purchase, and first log in through Chase, you will earn 300 miles for your purchase. Easy peasy. (And, that's on top of the miles you're already earning by paying with an awards credit card.)
FlyerTalk / MilePoint
These two forums are for serious frequent flyers. Here, you will discover people who eat, sleep, and breathe points and miles. You might think they're crazy, but they're going on vacations that you could only dream of … for next to nothing!
Both of the communities are extremely welcoming to newbies, so this is the place to go if you have a question about anything miles and points related. They also often have the first scoop on deals, promotions, mistake fares, etc., but you would have to devote a lot of time to browsing the forums in order to stay informed. I'd advise using these forums for tips and questions, and stick to the blogs to update you on deals.
Have you ever gotten on a long-haul flight, only to discover that your seat has zero legroom or doesn't recline? If the answer is yes, then you need to start searching SeatGuru before every flight. With the ability to choose your seats ahead of time, there is no need to be stuck in those awful seats anymore.
Surf over to SeatGuru, select your airline and flight number, or flight route and date, and you'll be taken to a diagram of the plane you'll be flying. Particularly good seats are marked in green, and particularly bad ones in red. If only it could tell you which seat the crying baby will occupy!
Sleeping In Airports
Though not technically "frequent flyer," this website caters to budget conscious people who fly frequently. Get the skinny on airports worldwide: the best and worst to sleep in, locations of the quiet spots, and the Wi-Fi and food situations.
This behemoth of a site offers several tools for miles and points junkies. Besides reviews and ratings of every award program, it is also home to the fantastic View From The Wing blog. Check out the Bonus Promotions tab to discover a wide-range of bonuses within different programs.
My favorite tools, however, are the mileage converter and mileage calculator. The mileage converter shows you how to transfer miles and points between programs. The calculator determines the distance between airports, giving you a rough estimate of how many miles can be earned by flying that route (on a paid ticket, of course). WebFlyer also features a mileage mall search similar to ev'reward. It usually has some good limited-time offers, but in general isn't as comprehensive.
There you have it. With all the resources available to you online, you should be earning awards in no time! Did I miss anything? What are your favorite websites for frequent flyers?
About the Author
Susan Shain is a lover of adventure travel, Michigan football and Cheez-Its. She has been working ungrownup seasonal jobs and traveling the world for the past four years. Follow her adventures on her blog, Travel Junkette.