Many travelers, especially leisure ones, do not bother to sign up for frequent flyer programs under the impression that they don’t travel enough to make it worthwhile. But the fact is, it may be easier to earn a free flight than it first appears. There is no fee to enroll in a program, so essentially, you have literally nothing to lose! Perhaps you’re about to begin traveling abroad for the first time. Waste no time in joining a program, so that if you DO end up traveling more than expected, you won’t miss out on the benefits of enrollment. Most airlines will even let you join for a short period AFTER your trip, and allow you to accumulate points for that trip, plus future ones.
When choosing a program, it’s best to take into account the available routes provided by each airline before weighing other factors. If you fly to the States frequently, for example, make sure the airline’s destinations there are in line with where you’ll most likely want to travel. The same applies if you favor domestic, European, or Asian destinations. One airline may have a more generous program than another, but that won’t help you if they don’t fly to the places you need to travel to.
Often credit card companies partner with airlines and offer programs that allow you to accumulate frequent flyer points for purchases, as well as bonus points if you use that specific card to book your flights. Don’t overlook this as an effective way to get better value from your travel budget! It may be worth opening an account to use exclusively for travel expenses.
For even more value, don’t forget to examine frequent customer appreciation programs that may be offered by your car hire service. When you enroll in their Budget Business club, Budget car hire, for example, offers not only many useful perks, like discounts and upgrades, but also Qantas Airline Frequent Flyer Points with each rental.
Then there are “VIP Club” programs to consider. These carry a fee, but if you travel frequently and enjoy some luxuries, like airport ‘clubhouse’ privileges, complimentary beverages, meals, and media, and sometimes free baggage check and upgrades, it might be worth it, as often members of these programs also earn bonus frequent flyer miles as one of the perks. If you only expect to take one trip or less abroad per year, then the benefits may not exceed the expense, but that’s something that will depend on which offers you personally find most attractive. You can usually sign up for most plans online, but sometimes it’s worthwhile to give the airline a call directly-they may have special offers up their sleeves to woo you into their loyalty programs-ones that are not advertised on their websites, but reserved specifically for those who contact their call centers directly.