When it comes to air-miles programs, here are a few tips to take flight faster

One of the great myths of airline travel is that you can still get a free flight — even with all those rewards and point systems out there. At least, that’s what many of the travel experts, analysts and bargain hunters out there say. Here are some strategies for getting as much mileage out of your programs as you can.

Tips for Finding the Best Air-Miles Program for You

Think about assembling a combination of points from miles-generating credit cards along with your regular flight credits. Try choosing airline programs that have terms that are favourable to your needs and service the places where you travel.

Avoid programs with miles that expire and look for ones that you can combine with a credit card to accelerate your race to rewards. The right card can get you some amazing benefits. And there’s no shortage of websites and information out there recommending the best reward credit cards. But here are a few things to look for in terms of benefits when you’re trying to choose the right card:

  • In general, look for cards with a big sign-up bonus — like free miles, free checked bags or a waiver of the first year of the annual fee.
  • Do your best not to carry a balance on these cards or you’ll be paying more for your miles than intended.
  • When it comes to redemption, you can maximize points by being flexible with the available routes and times and don’t forget to book early to pay minimal redemption fees.

Study the Added Fees on Travel Points Cards

The other key to making sure you’re getting the most out of your mileage systems is to ensure you’re not paying an exorbitant amount of fees. Believe me, the list is long when it comes to potential added charges. Even the most frequent fliers among us will still find themselves having to pay various taxes and surcharges, because most airlines won’t allow you to use your miles or points to offset those charges. So, take a step back and evaluate what you’re really getting for this loyalty and whether it’s really worth it. The research can take a bit of extra time, but in the end, it will be well worth it.

Claire Newell is the travel media expert for Global BC, host of the travel series Operation: Vacation, best-selling author, spokesperson, wife and mother of two.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.