Giveaway: Trip for 2 to Australia’s Gold Coast including airfare, 7 nights hotel, meals…!

You’re going to be reading about this one on many of the BoardingArea blogs.

BoardingArea and the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card are sponsoring a giveaway — a trip for two to Australia’s Gold Coast including air and seven nights hotel (all mileage-earning), meals even, and cash and gift cards as a kick-in to cover taxes on a trip that’s otherwise valued at over $10,000.

Each of 20 participating BoardingArea blogs will be able to select one reader for the final drawing. By reading several of the blogs you have more chances to win and by being selected on one of the blogs you have about a 1 in 20 chance of winning the grand prize.

The contest is only open to those 18 years of age and older and to US residents only, not to our friendly Canadians or to residents of U.S. Territories.

Here’s how you enter. Leave a comment to this post answering the question:

What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

I will select at random a tip from among those that meets, in my sole discretion, a minimum standard of usefulness.

In other words, your tip doesn’t have to be the single greatest one ever. It just has to be useful or thoughtful to some. I don’t want blank entries here, or “I’m in!” as a comment, that won’t get you an entry. But anyone with a reasonable tip about something they’ve found useful in earning or burning points gets you an entry.

And I don’t want to get into the game of selecting what’s the best, the winner from my blog will be selected at random (via random.org).

That winner will be selected based on comments received by noon eastern time on March 28. They’ll be forwarded to BoardingArea as one of ~ 20 finalists who will go on to be selected to win the trip!

More details on the contest can be found at contest page, along with a full list of the twenty or so participating blogs where you can leave similar tips and gain additional entries into the giveaway!

Questions? Shoot those over to me by email rather than in the comments to this post, the comments here are tips about earning and burning points in order to enter to win a truly amazing trip!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. 1 Consider using your airline rewards for upgrades to first class or business class.
    2 Read flyertalk and the blogs like this
    3 Plan ahead for better availability
    4 some good luck

  2. Concentrate on quickly gaining the highest elite status in one program, because you can parlay that into status at others through matching. Plus it makes the travel that much more comfortable

  3. Purchase paper gift certificates at a Mom and Pop supermarket with a mileage earning credit card and redeem by buying a couple of small items; mine gives me change in cash. Rinse, repeat. (This is useful when you need to hit a spend threshold on a credit card)

  4. Maintain points with a variety of different providers — different hotel chains, different airline alliances — so you can find a good match for where you’re going/staying. More flexibility helps significantly with finding availability.

  5. Find a program and stick to it. Pay very close attention to the expiration dates on your rewards, especially the free car vouchers and such (like the 1 2 free promo by National, those things expire really fast.
    Especially when dealing with rental cars try and break into a higher tier as you’ll get better service and better cars usually.
    For what it’s worth I’ve found points don’t matter as much as the perks to me. I would much rather get upgraded on 20 domestic flights than get one free international flight.

  6. My advice is for those of us who don’t travel enough to have elite status but want to reap some of the benefits of mileage plans.

    1. Know the airline program: alliances and other partners where you can get mileage credit. Choose one airline in each of the three major alliances (star, sky team, one world) and work through that mileage program to work up your balance and avoid losing miles to experation.

    2. Know the mileage costs for redeming miles in the different programs: I recently redeemed miles from my British Airways Executive Club for a round trip to Hawaii on AA for 10,000 miles less per ticket than if I had booked it using AAdvantage miles.

    3. Last but probably most important for those of us that travel less frequently. Know what airlines that offer the best mileage bonuses for travel and credit cards: regularly you can find credit cards that offer 25,000-30,000 miles (sometimes with the first year’s fee waived). That will get you a free domestic round trip in economy. Fly one or two international flights on that airline or their partner and you will be ready for a free economy international round trip.

    4. Bonus tip: I have found that bonus miles are more available for US airlines and other western airlines (especially with my favorite: credit card bonuses).

  7. The top tip I give my friends is to //always// collect the miles, even if you don’t think you will be collecting more in the future.

  8. Earn your miles locally, burn your miles globally. It’s surprising how many people don’t know about all the existing partner awards around…..

  9. Do your homework! Know EVERYTHING about the loyalty rewards program you chose: one-time promotions, how to get bonus points, who are the partners, etc.
    Every time you make a reservation/pay for something (store, hotel, restaurant, purchase on-line, concert, trip to a museum, etc) remember to check if you can use your loyalty card. EVERY LITTLE BIT ADDS UP!!!

  10. When you have a lousy experience with an airline, CONTACT the airline immediately; often you will receive double miles or at least courtesy miles. And if you don’t, you’re not being descriptive enough!!

    I’ve had great experiences with Delta’s customer service responding to some horrid flight experiences (when you fly 80,000 miles a year, you’re bound to have a few ugly ones!)

  11. Don’t procrastinate when pursuing deals! They are frequently get pulled long before their supposed end date and that makes many a Flyertalker sad.

  12. Sign up for AwardWallet.com to keep track of your mileage balances if you are a member of several programs (like me!). The free version is great, but for as little as $1 for 6 months, you can also keep track of expiration dates for your programs, so that you don’t lose your hard-earned miles & points due to inactivity.

  13. Man, what hasn’t been said? Don’t just look at for travel partners to earn miles, but to retail partners. Earn a few extra points on everyday stuff you would buy anyway.

  14. Make sure you have a CC for both Hotel and Airline miles that complement each other.

  15. My advice would be to “get loyal” with a favorite hotel chain/ airline/ rental car company – higher level loyal members, Starwood Platinums, Hyatt Diamonds, United 1ks, for example not only earn base points but bonus points for these member classifications, as well as other perks and upgrades (free) that rewards the loyal frequent traveler. Also, using a branded credit card to pay for these hotel rooms and plane tickets (United’s Visa, Starwood’s Amex, for example) have a way of being a point multiplier for increased earnings ad well.

  16. Keep it simple! Choose one loyalty program that best suits your personal needs. They sometimes change so get updates, because what you don’t know about your loyalty program can hurt you.

  17. Commit your account numbers to memory and always make sure they appear on your boarding pass!

  18. Earn airline miles with one carrier/alliance but with at least two hotel chains to ensure that there’s a location you can use points on a trip and in case the hotel of choice has no rooms available, that way you have a backup to use when you want to cash in points for a trip.

  19. My top tip for using mileage points is to plan well in advance and to fully understand the specific restrictions of the program.

  20. Do the math. Even if a domestic ticket seems expensive, it’s almost never worth it to burn miles. Save them for your international trips.

  21. Double-dip or triple-dip by using a site that gives you points just for using the site, and then pay for it using your points credit card, and if you can, use your frequent flyer number.

    For example, I had a recent trip where I used MyPoints to navigate to United (rather than going to united.com directly, earning me a few hundred MyPoints), I booked the travel using my FF number (earning air miles), and I used my Discover card which was offering a 5% cash back on any travel charges. Triple dip!

  22. ALWAYS look for easy ways to double and triple dip for miles. Hotels, rental cars, credit cards — even restaurants and grocery stores — offer miles for purchases, and you can often have those SAME miles applied to multiple programs. Just by making a simple purchase or by dining at a restaurant where you would normally dine, you can maximize your points. No lifestyle changes required!!

  23. If you get a rep that says it cant be done, hang up and call again until you get a rep that will work with you and is knowledgeable. Try try try again. Often reps just dont know their own loyality program. Make sure you get one that does.

  24. As I’ve gotten older, my time has become more valuable and I’ve had more disposable income. Therefore, I recommend being a little more willing to spend money instead of sacrifice time to build mileage balances.

    On Continental, I have the Presidental Plus credit card, which gives a 25% redeemable miles bonus. I pay in advance for the Extra Mile bonus, which is another 50%. I have Platinum status, offering a 100% bonus. And I frequently purchase B fares, which are upgradeable at booking and earn 150% EQM, good for keeping status.

  25. Points are in the details, understand where the bonuses are and how to get them as cheaply as possible. So don’t spread yourself to thin between too many programs

    Then to spend them, plan as early as possible and do the research on miles required, could find a steal where you least expect it. (e.g. when nwa.com was still up during transition)

  26. Find the program that has the most reach (e.g. premium class international award availability) like a USAir or Air Canada’s Aeroplan. Credit your miles to those plans (potentially forgoing status on another airline).

    If possible, use a credit card that is affiliated with your airline’s program(s) or one that can transfer to your program (Amex Gold, Starwood Amex).

    When it comes to redemption, use the knowledge base and be patient. There are many routes between points A & B, so be creative. Refer to FF blogs and forums to get the most out of your redemption. Chances are, someone has done it before.

    Use an award tracker such as AwardWallet (pay for the premium, it’s worth it) to make sure you know when all your miles expire and other details.

  27. Be friendly with hotel/airline counter agents! You just may get upgraded – especially if you are traveling on a special occasion such as your honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Let them know!

  28. Don’t forget to read your emails from the airlines to find out about special promotions! And return to the best travel blog to get all the scoop. I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! Thanks.

  29. follow travel sites on Twitter for special offers and be sure to know loyalty programs partners

  30. Know what your programs’ expiration rules are and what it takes to keep your miles/points from expiring. Even if you don’t have enough miles in your account to take a flight, you may have an opportunity in the future to get enough for a ticket. Keeping miles alive in many programs can also be done cheaply. For example, buying a song on iTunes keeps United miles alive for another 18 months.

  31. Many airline carriers allow for one-way award redemptions. If you have trouble finding round trip award availability at the lowest redemption level, do some one-way searches before ponying up the higher amount of miles

  32. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points? At Christmastime, do all your shopping online for FF miles! I’ve racked up lots of points this way and have traveled to Europe and California using my FF miles.

  33. Keep your points alive, even if you have not taken a flight recently, by using the airlines version of “the mall” or “marketplace”. Earning even a few points/miles will extend their life.

  34. Burn baby burn… Burn and churn points like they are going to expire tomorrow. If it is redeemable for your choice of dates, don’t hold back. Enjoy a redemption!

  35. Earn/consolidate to one frequent flyer program of an alliance. Always check the ‘Fare basis code’. Starwood Preferred Guest card is best credit card for earning miles, gives 5k bonus for redeeming 20k miles to 30 different FFP program.

  36. My top tip:

    Never let a mile go waste: Never pay cash when you can charge to a mile earning card, never let any miles expire, never miss a mileage promotion and never use miles for free flights for yourself.

  37. Consolidate to one or two rewards programs, enter all promotions, and use points as they accumulate so much as is reasonable to counter any fears of inflationary pressures the points may face (and limits the need to worry about expiration dates).

  38. Air miles and some hotel points expire. When you sign up to earn these miles, ask the related parties how long you have to accrue the points, how long they are valid and if there are policies on extending earned miles or awards. Be careful!

  39. Lesson learned the hard way: Always make sure to read your airline’s upgrade policy closely before booking a flight! (For example, USAirways will upgrade you on international flights but NOT trans-atlantic. That’s a tough 8 hours in coach.)

  40. If you only travel a moderate amount, make every hotel stay one night and then switch hotels for the next night. This is the quickest way to elite levels at the hotel chains. The hotels always require less stays than nights to reach elite levels, so by switching hotels nightly, you can earn elite status with just 2-3 stays per month. Once you have status, you’ll start earning additional bonus points and upgrades.

  41. The best advice I ever received is to pick one carrier/alliance and one hotel chain and stick with it. It’s much better to be the top of one program than the middle of many. You want all of the points you achieve to get you the most you possibly can, not spread out across different alliances or chains.

  42. If you find you are getting “spun” by the hotels and airlines when you try to use your points/miles, write directly (and nicely) to the CEO of the company (registered mail), with all the facts and details, enclosing all relevant documents. We had hundreds of thousands of points and miles but couldn’t use them for one reason or another for years… UNTIL I did that. We were contacted Immediately and got to have the honeymoon of our DREAMS, and the hotels and airlines treated us like GOLD! I have used this technique effectively with CEOs from several major corporations (inc. Marriott and Delta) to resolve a variety of issues. As my dad said “You don’t ask, you don’t get”! But ask Nice!

  43. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines/rental car companies/hotels/credit cards/etc. partner with one another!). Save those miles for your dream first-class trip anywhere! Luxurious air travel is the best way to get the most out of your miles. 😀

    Thanks!

  44. Pick an alliance, use it. Pay for everything with your miles card. Use any opportunity for double and triple miles offers. Use up the miles before the airline goes out of business.

  45. Focus on a few – preferably one loyalty programs – for flights and hotels and try to maximize the amount of points you can gain for these programs. Like George Clooney says in “Up in the air” – never spend a dime without trying to gain points for it. Taking advantage of the excellent resources on the web – like boarding area blogs that will help you find all the ways to earn those points. Then use ’em quickly and enjoy!

  46. Earn every chance you can and credit to as few programs as possible (consolidate). For example, credit flights to one airline program per alliance and when staying at a hotel outside your “preferred” hotel program(s), try to credit to an airline rather than holding just a couple of points in every program.

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