A Filipino's Beginner Guide to Airline Miles

A Filipino’s Beginner Guide to Airline Miles

A very small percentage of Filipinos now have credit cards—and an even fewer denomination knows that there are airline miles in the Philippines. This is probably one of, if not the best alternative to use when paying for your flights both domestically and internationally. And since most Filipinos love traveling, knowledge of airline miles might probably help you save more and fly more as well!

In recent years, Filipinos have been considered as one of Asia’s top travelers. It can be an individual goal or part of the family bucket list. Everyone has that desire to travel.

The problem is that travel can get fairly expensive, especially to the common Filipino. A large part is because of the airfare.

Here’s a sample booking that we tried with Philippine Airlines. The cheapest flight would be USD108.80 or a little over PHP5,500.00. for an economy seat, and USD398.80 or PHP20,500 for business class.

Sample PAL Booking
source: mabuhaymiles.com
Sample PAL Booking
source: mabuhaymiles.com

This means you’ll be set back by PHP5,500 plus additional taxes and surcharges even before you start your vacation!

However, through airline miles, you can get this ticket for free!

To understand exactly how you can do this, you must first understand what exactly airline miles are.

What are Airline Miles?

What are Airline Miles?

Airline miles are basically a type of currency that is unique to specific frequent flyer programs. You can collect them based on how much you spend on a flight ticket or how much you spend on your credit card. Once you collect enough miles, you can use them to buy flight tickets or other rewards that the frequent flyer program offers.

In essence, you earn airline miles by spending.

That being said, there are still a few things that should be clarified before we continue.

It should be noted that airline miles do not equate to the miles that you fly or the miles that you’ve already flown. It’s more closely related to the reward points that you get from your credit card rewards program.

Another thing worth noting is that you don’t earn airline miles for things that you bought with cash. Only expenses through your credit card can later be converted into airline miles.

How Can You Earn Airline Miles?

How Can You Earn Airline Miles?

There are two primary ways to earn airline miles: By collecting through a frequent flyer program, or by converting credit card points.

Take note that you can convert credit card points into airline miles. But you can’t convert your airline miles into credit cards.

You can accumulate large amounts of airline miles when you pay for a flight, but most of the time, you’ll be able to earn more by continuously using your credit card for all of your transactions.

Keep in mind that different credit cards have different conditions in collecting points.

Some of them give multipliers when used for online transactions or air travel, while others give bonus points when used for other expenses.

TIP: use a credit card with a multiplier when used for airfare to pay for a flight. Not only will you earn airline miles because of the flight, but you’ll also earn a set amount of credit card points that you can then convert to airline miles! 

You don’t need to fly just to earn points, however. You can passively earn points by just spending what you normally do every day. If you have a credit card, you should go and check out exactly how many points you’ve got. Who knows? You might have enough to redeem a flight ticket for free!

Which Credit Card Should You Use in Collecting Airline Miles?

Which Credit Card Should You Use in Collecting Airline Miles?

As mentioned above, the two ways that you can collect airline miles is through frequent flyer programs or credit cards. Signing up for a frequent flyer program is free, so to really amp up your journey to collect miles, you have to sign up for a credit card.

There are so many choices when it comes to credit cards in the Philippines. But only a select few will reward you with an ample amount of airline miles for most of your purchases.

In most cases, you should start with the credit card that is co-branded with the airline that has a hub near you, in this case, Philippine Airlines. However, the PNB-PAL cards aren’t exactly the most rewarding of credit cards out there. The only thing going for them is that they are one of the only credit cards that provide free airline miles when you apply for one. PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard provides a welcome gift of 2,000 Mabuhay Miles and an additional 10,000 Mabuhay miles when you make PHP100,000 worth of transactions at PAL within 1 year.

The best that we could recommend would be Citibank Premier Miles. it’s PHP30.00 to 1-mile conversion rate is a reasonable ratio and the Citi Rewards programs also give you access to over 60 airlines.

Another one of our recommendations, though with relatively high requirements is the Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa. It has a PHP17.00 to 1-mile conversion rate for any travel-related, hotel, airline, and overseas expenses and a PHP20.00 to 1-mile conversion rate for all other transactions. The best part is that you can earn 3x the rewards for local airlines, hotel accommodations and online spending.

Aside from these, there are many other credit cards to choose from. You can check out which one you like on our cards page and find one that is perfect for you!

What Can You Get from Airline Miles?

What Can You Get from Airline Miles?

With enough airline miles, you can fly around the world and the only thing that you need to pay for are the taxes and surcharges for the flights.

You can essentially get numerous first-class tickets for free with the right amount of points! All you need is to be consistent with the collection of your airline miles!

Now, going back to the example above, to redeem a one-way ticket to Singapore from Manila, you will need either 12,000 Mabuhay miles for an economy ticket or 22,000 miles for a business class ticket.

Sample PAL Booking
source: mabuhaymiles.com

Taking into consideration the 2,000 Mabuhay miles welcome gift, you’ll only need to earn 10,000 Mabuhay miles. With a PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard, you can have a PHP30 to 1-mile conversion ratio. Meaning you only need to spend PHP300,000 using the said card to earn the remaining 10,000 Mabuhay miles.

Take note that as long as you reach PHP300,000 worth of expenditure with your credit card, you will have accumulated 10,000 Mabuhay miles. That PHP300,000 can be spent on utilities, groceries, entertainment, dining out, and the likes.

In essence, if your lifestyle leads you to spend around PHP300,000 per year, then you’ll be able to earn at least 10,000 Mabuhay miles.

Assuming that a high-income middle-class family would likely spend around PHP500,000 a year, then you can easily accumulate points in the long term!

Closing Thoughts

In the Philippines, airline miles can be used to fly for free. By collecting them in the long term, you can redeem many kinds of flights—not just the regular economy ones. The best part is that you don’t need to change your spending habits just to collect airline miles. Just using your credit card for the majority of your expenses can help you passively collect points.

Keep in mind, however, that collecting airline miles is not a short-term process. You will reap better rewards when you collect miles for a longer time.

To learn more about how you can maximize your mile collection, check out the rest of the Pointsboys! We regularly post about airline miles, credit card points, and how you can maximize them to fly for free and fly in style!

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