Maximize the Way You Earn Miles and Rewards

by Patrick Sojka - Editor Rewards Canada | Posted May 30, 05 | Updated Jan 12, 09
Want that free flight to Cancun sooner? Does it seem like your reward program balance isn't growing fast enough? By following these eight steps to maximizing the way you earn miles and rewards, you will be able to reap the benefits that the programs like to dangle in front of you sooner then you think.

Focus on a few programs but join many
It is always best to focus on only a couple of programs (1 Airline, 1 Hotel, etc) to put your miles into but sometimes you may be shopping somewhere or renting a car that your primary programs don't partner with. In that case find a program that does, since joining most loyalty programs is free why not join? In the end you may end up with some programs that have orphaned miles or points that you never use but on the other hand you may end up collecting more into that particular program so that you can redeem them sometime in the future. If you do plan on using certain programs only occasionally, check out the rules of the program to see if points expire. Some programs don't have expiry dates so you can just leave the points in the program while others expire 3 years after your last action (earning or redemption) so keep track of them and if you want to keep those points in a program ensure that you earn or redeem so you don't lose them.

Look for and take advantage of bonus mile offers
Use bonus mile offers to your advantage, they are an easy way to work your way up to that reward you want to redeem for. This is what Rewards Canada and Frequent Flyer Bonuses were initially started for, listing bonus offers in one site. But don't just read Rewards Canada and Frequent Flyer Bonuses , read the emails the programs send you, don't delete them, you'll never know when a valuable offer could be hidden somewhere in the email. Check out the websites of the reward programs and other frequent flyer sites like,, or

Search out offers, if you have to stay overnight in Ft. McMurray and the Best Western and the Holiday Inn both have the same rates, find out if one of them is offering a bonus mile opportunity and stay there. Do your research, your travel agent or online booking engine won't do it for you, in fact most are unaware of the hundreds of bonus offers that are out there.

Register for every promotion even if you think you may not use it.
Many of the bonus offers require registration and while you may not think you can take advantage of the bonus offer, register anyways. Who knows when your employer may send you to Chattanooga for a meeting and you don't remember or realize that the airline you're flying on was offering double miles on all flights to or from Chattanooga. By registering for an offer when you first see it, you're making sure you don't miss out on any bonus opportunities.

Pay for everything with your mileage earning credit card
This is by far the easiest way to rack up miles outside of actual flights with the airlines. Put everything that you buy on your credit cards right down to the chocolate bar from the corner store. Every mile counts no matter where or how you earn it. But if you run a balance and pay interest on your credit cards, those miles you earn will never be worth the money you lose in paying the interest.

Carry different credit cards
Some bonus mile offers or other offers like free gift cards (see Cash in on other rewards below) require that you only use a specific credit card like a Visa. So if it is economically viable for you to do so, carry a Visa card, a MasterCard and an American Express. Think it may be expensive? Well there are no fee credit cards that earn points like the American Express credit card and the MBNA Starwood Preferred Guest MasterCard. Of course you don't even have to get a mileage card for your additional card but since this is an article on miles, why wouldn't you?

Double & Triple Dip
Double dipping is the term coined for earning miles twice in one purchase or transaction. This basically involves your mileage earning credit card being used for a purchase where you also earn miles in the same program as the credit card. Buying gas at Esso? Using your Aeroplan Visa or American Express and then swiping your Aeroplan card ensures you are double dipping.

Triple dipping is little tougher then double dipping and mainly involves air travel purchased on your credit card. Many airlines offer some sort of mileage bonus if you buy airline tickets through their website directly, Air Canada has a rated scale on a per dollar basis while most others have a flat 500 or 1000 mile bonus offer. Thus the triple dip in this case would be the online purchase bonus, the miles earned on the credit card plus the miles earned for taking the flight. It is even possible to triple dip with hotels as some hotel programs offer an online booking bonus.

Double and Triple dipping does not have to involve the same program. You can always use a credit card that earns in one program while collecting the actual miles from another program for your flights, hotels, shopping or anything else you can earn miles on.

Upgrade your flights
Take steps to fly in business or first class by buying the ticket outright (the expensive way) or by making sure that you meet criteria to get upgraded (this is more for those who are status members in their respective programs) to ensure that you earn the 25-100% class of service bonus associated with the upper classes of flying. This is an easy way to build up those mileage balances and your (re)qualifications for status.

Cash in on other rewards
Sometimes reward programs offer bonus or rewards other then miles. Some airlines have had promotions whereby you take three flights and you'll get one free. Same goes for hotels, many hotels have promotions that offer up free nights after a certain amount of stays. Hotels also like to offer gift cards for future travel after certain stays. In many cases you have to be a member of the respective company's reward program so this goes back to the beginning where you may just have to join the program to take advantage of the offer.

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