Every traveler wants to get the best deal on major expenses such as flights and hotels. One of the most common ways to score big is by using airlines’ frequent flyer programs. American Airlines was the first innovator of these popular rewards programs. Today, virtually all U.S. airlines and many international airlines offer customer rewards programs, but AAdvantage is still a leader. While FFPs offer many perks, airlines make it hard to redeem miles, with restrictions on when and how they can be used. Many customers resort to selling frequent flyer miles rather than cashing them in. Consumers can avoid getting stuck with useless frequent flyer miles by checking some basic facts about the program in question before enrolling, to ensure that the miles will work to their advantage.
Expiration of Miles
The first thing to check is whether there is a deadline for using accumulated miles. Programs in the U.S. usually do not have expiration on the miles, provided that there is account activity within three years after the miles are earned. International programs often terminate the miles after three years, regardless of account activity. If you are looking to sell your frequent flyer miles it is important to do so before the miles expire. It is also important to ensure that the airline flies to destinations you might be interested in. Read the fine print and check that the carrier’s blackout periods do not fall on times when you are likely to fly.
Enroll Ahead of Time
If you would like to enroll in a frequent flyer program specifically for an upcoming trip, be sure to enroll ahead of time. Most airlines will not credit mileage that was flown before you became a member of their program. They also often limit the amount of seats on each flight which can be reserved using frequent flyer miles. Most airlines usually set aside an average of five percent of their seats for members using their miles. Be prepared to be flexible when using your miles, rather than basing your trip on the assumption that you will purchase tickets based on membership rewards.
Taxes on Tickets
Legally, the IRS has ruled that FFP based tickets are subject to taxes. However, this is a law that is very loosely interpreted, and most airlines are able to circumvent the taxes, because the IRS can only tax tickets that were earned through business travel and are being used for leisure. These conditions make the law too hard to enforce.
Sell Frequent Flyer Miles
Even after you’ve done your homework, you still may get saddled with miles that you can’t use. In this case, your best move would be to sell your frequent flyer miles. Airlines don’t like this practice, and they do what they can to fight it, but it is entirely legal. Buyers of miles believe that once you’ve earned miles they are yours to do with as you see fit. The best thing to do if they are of no use to you is sell your frequent flyer miles for cash.
Sean Miller is a lover of rewards programs and freebies, and he considers it an art to navigate the many available programs and perks offered by airlines and credit cards. He has had good experiences selling miles to Sell Miles Now.