In the past year, I’ve become a bit of an addict when it comes to frequent flyer miles and hotel points. Collecting points is how my family is able to travel as much as we do… some of our travel is essentially free! Within the past year alone, miles and points have gotten me a free Southwest flight to New Orleans for a bachelorette party weekend, a free night at a Ritz Carlton slopeside at Lake Tahoe, a free night at a Residence Inn in Connecticut when Hurricane Irene power outages prevented us from staying with family, and a free flight down to Southern California to see Mickey Mouse!
You certainly don’t need to take the miles and points addiction as far as I do, but if you travel even semi-regularly, it makes sense to participate in these programs. Eventually the points will add up to a free flight or hotel room here and there.
There are a lot of great blogs out there that can give you an introduction to the miles and points game. Here are a few beginner guides from my favorite blogs if you want to get started in this hobby:
- Mommy Points Beginner’s Guide
- Frugal Travel Guy Rookie Tips & FAQ
- The Points Guy Beginner Guide
- Million Mile Secrets Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points
Here are a few of my beginner tips as well:
- If you aren’t a frequent traveler, try to focus on a single airline and hotel chain so the points will add up more quickly.
- Don’t let your points expire! Although a lot of points programs have expiration rules, it is easier than ever to keep your accounts active. You can often do something as simple as buy a magazine subscription or fill out an online survey to keep your points.
- Track your points with AwardWallet. It’s a great way to log in to all of your accounts at once and not lose track of your passwords and smaller account balances.