Earning credit card points and airline miles is not as easy as it looks. It takes patience, perseverance, and planning. Probably most importantly, it takes time and meticulous effort to ensure that you earn enough for your next flight redemption.
We’ve already brought you a beginner guide for aspiring mileage collectors and a list of the best ways for you to earn credit card points and airline miles. This time, we’ll show you the many mistakes that can be utterly detrimental to your point collection journey!
Refusing to Join Loyalty Programs
The first thing that anyone that wants to at least try to collect airline miles and redeem an award ticket needs to be part of a frequent flyer program.
Note that we mentioned loyalty programs instead of explicitly frequent flyer programs. Since most, if not all loyalty programs are free, you should join in those that you will frequently be using. Be it airline frequent flyer programs, hotel loyalty programs, and simple grocery or mall loyalty programs.
For instance, if you’re an avid flyer of Philippine Airlines, you should join their Frequent Flyer Program, Mabuhay Miles. Get an SM Advantage card if you always go to SM Malls, and Hotels, Marriot, Hilton, and Solaire have their own loyalty programs for you to choose from!
For airline miles, you need to be a member of the frequent flyer program of your choice. In the Philippines, there are five popular ones, three of which are from full-service airlines while the other two are from low-cost airlines.
We highly recommend that you become a member of the three frequent flyer programs that we have featured, Asia Miles, Kris Flyer, and Mabuhay Miles.
Loyalty Programs allow you to use the points/miles that you collect. Without them, you can’t start your mileage journey. For Filipinos, Asia Miles, KrisFlyer, and Mabuhay Miles are the best ones to join.
Assuming Miles Have the Same Value
If you’ve already read our beginner guide to Airline Miles, you would know that the value of airline miles differs between airlines and their frequent flyer programs. 1 Mabuhay Miles is not equal to 1 KrisFlyer Miles. 1 Asia Miles is not equal to 1 Mabuhay Mile.
Another more important note is that in most cases, one credit card point is not equal to one airline mile. Most of the time, credit card points have an unequal conversion ratio between points and miles.
For example, Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa lets you convert 2.5 points to 1 airline mile.
In these cases, you should never think that one airline mile has the same value as another. This will lead to a lot of head-scratching and inefficient use of points and miles.
Everyone should value their points differently depending on their usability, preference, ease of collecting/usage, and overall monetary value-per-point/mile.
This is where credit card point-to-mile ratios can get a bit confusing.
For instance, the lowest point to peso conversion that Metrobank can allow is 1pt: PHP17. However, you need 2.5 points to get 1 mile. So that values 1 mile at PHP42.5 when using a Metrobank Credit card.
Citibank PremierMiles, however, has a straight peso to mile ratio of PHP30 to 1 mile.
It just goes to show that there’s more to collecting points than just the point/mile-to-peso conversion that they advertise.
Airline Miles have different values between their monetary value, ease of accumulation, usability, and personal preference.
90% of the time, buying miles is definitely not a good idea. Earning points and miles need to be passive. The instance where you explicitly buy miles is already a waste of money. The best and most efficient way to collect points and miles is through your everyday expenses. The only change is that you will use a credit card that accumulates points for all of it.
Buying miles is just the opposite of what most mileage collectors what to do. Airline miles are supposed to be used to redeem free miles. Buying miles is almost the same as paying for the flight.
After all that, there are some circumstances wherein you can consider buying miles—and that is only if they are on sale or they award bonus miles when you buy. This way, the value of your purchase increases. Yes, you will be paying for miles, but you will be paying significantly less than when you pay for the flight in full.
We have one flight review that can help clarify this further. It is particularly hard to earn or use miles for Emirates unless you frequently fly with them. While planning, we found out that they were selling miles at a 25% discount. It was huge and it made the trip well worth us buying those miles!
Buying Miles is almost like paying for your flight. However, when smart about taking advantage of buying miles and in very select situations, it can lead to a flight that was technically paid for, at a significantly lower price.
Not Using a Credit Card
Without a credit card, you will not be able to earn points and miles apart from the times when you fly with an airline, shop in shopping portals, or use some of an airline’s partner services.
Travel Credit cards will always give you points or miles when you use it for your transactions. The more you spend using your credit card, the more points you would earn!
Again, it’s important to remember that you must not spend JUST to earn points. Your point collection needs to be passive and integrated into your everyday expenses.
Take note: expenses that you paid for in cash will not let you earn any points because you did not use your credit card. The same goes for most Debit cards. If you really want to earn as many points as you can, you need to get a credit card.
Without a credit card, it will be significantly harder to collect airline miles because you won’t accumulate credit card points that can be converted to airline miles.
Not Paying your Monthly Dues on Time
This is the worst possible mistake that any point collector can make. Every person that has a credit card, be it a collector or not, should always pay their dues on time. This is a requirement for people who have credit cards.
This should always be done in order to prevent any kind of debt from accumulating. Bear in mind that when it comes to credit cards, the most dangerous thing to forget or ignore is paying their bills.
Several things can result from not paying it. First, you will accumulate debt, be it little by little, depending on the lavishness of your expenses. Second, you will lower your credit score.
Remember, a bad credit score will deny you the opportunity to get better credit cards and other forms of loans.
Paying your credit card bill is one of the most crucial things that every credit cardholder should do. Make sure that you do this in order to maintain your credit score and to avoid debt.
Forgetting Point Expirations
In the three frequent flyer programs that we recommend to Filipino frequent flyers, Asia Miles KrisFlyer, and Mabuhay Miles, two of which have miles expire after a period of inactivity. KrisFlyer is currently the only one that has a hard expiration of 36 months after accrual.
Every frequent flyer should know these in order to make sure that they don’t save up miles for too long that they expire.
Here are the current expiration mechanics of the mentioned frequent flyer programs.
- Krisflyer Miles – 36 Months after the day of accrual
- Asia Miles – 18 Months of member inactivity
- Mabuhay Miles – 24 Months of member inactivity
Point and mile collection can take months, even years. When you lose track of time, you might end up 3 or 4 years into collecting and you would suddenly realize that you have fewer miles because some are expired.
Keep track of your miles’ expiration date. They take two to three years to expire, so as long as you use your miles before that date, you don’t have to worry about your miles expiring.
Redeeming Anything but Airline Miles
Credit card points and airline miles are two things that can be used to redeem not just airline tickets but gift vouchers, hotel stays, gadgets, and so much more. These can be redeemed for a significantly lower cost. Things like vouchers and fee waivers are probably the cheapest options.
Some people choose to use their credit card points for this. Some even use their points and miles to pay for something else.
Award tickets are by far the most valuable things that you can get from your credit card points and airline miles. Anything else would just have terrible value.
Your credit card points and airline miles will only have the best value when you use them to redeem flight awards.
Being Strict with Travel Dates
This won’t technically affect your point and mile collection, but it will most definitely limit the usage of your points and miles. Think of it this way, your miles will not have any value unless you use them. If you become too stingy with the travel dates that you want, you might have a hard time finding award availability that you end up not using them at all.
Bear in mind that flight awards are quite difficult to get a hold of. Airlines would usually open them to the public several months or a year early. Flight awards also have some blackout dates and days where you just can’t use them.
You can’t always get a business class award ticket for a flight on the 23rd of December because that’s usually peak season.
On the other hand, there are loads of flight awards that can be redeemed during the off-season!
Do your research so that you can find the best redemptions for you early on!
A flexible point collector will find ways to plan their vacation at certain points in the year so that they can take advantage of their points!
Be flexible with your travel and vacation dates!
Optimizing Your Awards Rather Than Your Vacation
As a side note to the previous point, being flexible will let you find more opportunities to use your points for flights. But if you become hyper-focused on just that, you won’t be going on a vacation then right? You’ll just be using your points because that’s what you think is the best redemption for it.
We’d like to believe that you will be collecting points so that you can go on a vacation in the near future. That means spending time with your family both on and off the airplane.
Remember, the flight is just a part of your vacation that, with the points that you collect, can become less of a headache and more of a luxury since it’s free.
However, if you use your points to redeem every single award ticket you can find, without even considering the route, then it’s just wrong.
The same goes for being a bit too picky with your redemptions… only looking for the cheapest award ticket and thinking too hard about it.
For us, the best reason to use your miles is to have a vacation, for business trips, and for experiencing something new.
That’s what most flight redemptions allow you to do, and that’s what you should aim for.
Don’t be stingy with your points. Use it to experience new things and to fly your family for a vacation!
Not Having a Travel Goal
The last thing that every point collector should have (if they really do collect points for airline tickets) is a travel goal. Without one, you will only collect points for the sake of it. And if that’s your mindset, then it’s fairly easy to lose motivation.
Without a travel goal, you will just be questioning yourself on why you’re collecting these points and miles. You won’t see the true value in them aside from the rare cases where you can get vouchers, gift certificates, and well, free flights.
When you have a travel goal, big or small, you will value points and miles even more than other people. You’ll also be motivated to collect them in a certain time period. It basically covers up the majority of the things that we mentioned in this article!
A travel goal will set a vision, an objective for you to focus on that will lead to you doing away with all the other mistakes that we have listed above!
These are 10 of the most common mistakes that most frequent flyers and aspiring mileage collectors make. Some of them can be as simple as forgetting point expirations while some of them are as fundamental as not joining a specific frequent flyer program.
Have you done any of these before? If so, then it’s not the end of the world yet! Now that you know, you can do something about them!
Point and mile collection isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts to it. It also needs a lot of discipline and patience. But in the long run, you will be rewarded with great value, amazing vacations, and efficient point-earning!