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I normally don’t recommend using credit cards, but if you have the discipline to use them only to buy the essentials and pay them off each month, then they are a great way to get free airline tickets. But maximizing airline mileage is critically important. These 6 points give you the basics on how to maximize your earnings.
I carry the Delta Airlines American Express card and Delta Frequent Flyer membership. I also carry the American Airlines Citibank Visa card for the instances where merchants don't accept AMEX. Over the last 4 years, I have cashed in over 300,000 Frequent Flyer miles that paid for four Trans Atlantic round trips tickets. Those tickets would have cost me more than $5,000 and I got them for free. Here are a few easy steps to get free tickets and maximize your mileage earned.
First look at the airline with the most frequent flights and destinations from your hometown. Earning tickets on an airline with few flights from your home is an exercise in futility. Live in Chicago, choose United or American. Dallas: choose American. Houston: Continental is your pick. Atlanta: Delta. New York: Lucky you, almost every airline has a ton of flights, especially for international flights. Factor in airline alliances in your decision. Have family in Eastern Europe? Match up that region's airlines with your domestic airline partners.
Second, shop around for a special credit card offer from a major bank offering 20-30,000 miles just for signing up with a waiver of first year’s annual fee then sign up for the airlines frequent flyer plan.
Third, look for special mile programs that will double or triple your miles for flying routes that you are likely to go on. Many of these specials require registration so visit your airline's web page often.
Fourth, get airline miles every time you check in to hotel rooms. Find out all the partner hotel chains for your frequent flyer program and note how you earn miles. Many have 500 or 1,000 miles per stay. Pay with your frequent flyer credit card and you'll double up by getting a dollar per dollar spent and the per stay mileage. Check for double or triple mile deals that may get you up to 1,500 miles per stay. Really want to earn miles? Check in and out of your hotel each day. It might be too much of an inconvenience for many, but hardcore mileage earners use this technique often. Do the same thing for your work rental cars.