Maximize Frequent Flyer Miles When Booking Flights
Rewards Credit Cards
Avatar_160_hilary
Hilary Stockton
Google+

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Four Seasons Preferred Partner, VirtuosoPeninsula Hotels PenClub, Dorchester Diamond Club, Belmond Bellini Club, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Langham CoutureRitz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rocco Forte and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

GOT A BLOG POST IDEA?
Have a travel question we haven't covered yet? Want to share your secrets for traveling well for less?

Maximize Frequent Flyer Miles When Booking Flights

 

How can you maximize frequent flyer miles and points when booking airline flights? While the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card is a good start, there are other ways that could be a better bet. Here are some factors to take into account before I get into my recommendations:

  • Credit Card Bonus: What bonus miles or points does my credit card earn?
  • Portal Bonus: What bonus miles or points do I earn by going through a portal, such as the Ultimate Rewards Mall?
  • Portal Merchant Restrictions: What are the restrictions to receive bonus points for the portal merchant?
  • Foreign Transaction Fee: Keep in mind that even if a purchase is denominated in dollars, if it's processed outside of the U.S. there will be a foreign transaction fee--and you want to make sure to avoid that.
 
1. Travelocity via Ultimate Rewards Mall, Pay with AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card: 5X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 3X AMEX Membership Rewards points + 2X Ultimate Rewards points
 
Pros:
  • 5X points!
  • Earn both Membership Rewards points and Ultimate Rewards points
  • Great AMEX consumer protection
 
Cons:
  • Risk of flight purchase not being coded to the airline: AMEX Premier Rewards Gold 3X points is only supposed to be for air tickets bought directly from an airline. Usually Travelocity air tickets appear this way and you earn 3X, but if they instead appear as a Travelocity charge, you'd only receive 1 point
  • No UR points earned via Travelocity for Amtrak, Last Minute Deals, activities, Top Secret Hotels, insurance, order changes with the call center, Travel for Good products, rental cars, or taxes included in the tickets' base fare
  • If for some reason the Ultimate Reward points don't post, you have no recourse, since you're supposed to be using a Chase card for these transactions
 
2. Travelocity via Ultimate Rewards Mall, Pay with Chase Sapphire Preferred: 4.28X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 4.28X Ultimate Rewards points
 
Pros:
  • 4.28X points thanks to 2.14X for Sapphire Preferred (2X and 7% annual dividend) and another 2.14X for booking with Travelocity through the Ultimate Rewards Mall
  • As a travel purchase no risk of not getting 2.14X
  • Help from Chase in case points don't post properly, since you're using an Ultimate Rewards linked card
 
Cons:
  • Same Travelocity restrictions and risks as noted above
  • Only one type of points earned
 
3. Buy Vanilla Reloads at CVS with Chase Freedom for 5X, Load Onto Bluebird: 5X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 5X Ultimate Rewards points, if you have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold or Ink Plus in addition to your Chase Freedom
 
Pros:
  • 5X Ultimate Rewards points
  • Help from Chase in case points don't post properly, since you're using a Chase card
 
Cons:
  • Hard to find Vanilla Reloads at CVS
  • Limit of $1500 for Q1 2013 5X, for Chase Freedom
  • Poorer consumer protection when using Bluebird vs. regular AMEX credit card
 
4. Book Flight via Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal: 3.21X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 3.21X Ultimate Rewards points, if you book airfare using the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using your Sapphire Preferred card, thanks to 2.14X for a travel purchase and the 7% annual dividend, and an extra 1.07 points for using the Ultimate Rewards portal to book:
 
"As a Chase Sapphire Preferred customer you earn 1 point per dollar on all purchases, and an additional point for each dollar you spend on travel and when dining at restaurants. Plus, you earn an additional point per dollar spent when you book airfare and hotel accommodations online through Ultimate Rewards."
 
Pros:
  • 3.21X Ultimate Rewards points
  • Help from Chase in case points don't post properly, since you're using a Chase card and the Ultimate Rewards site
  • No foreign transaction fee: ideal when you need to book directly with a foreign carrier 
 
Cons:
  • Fewer points than when booking via Travelocity and Ultimate Rewards Mall using the Sapphire Preferred
 
5. Book via the AMEX Travel Site Using Your AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card: 4X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 4X Membership Rewards points, if you book via the AMEX Travel site using your AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card: 
 
"Extra Points:
To earn one (1) extra point on each dollar of eligible purchases, you must charge air, prepaid hotel, Complete Trip (flight + hotel packages), American Express Vacations package or cruise reservations through amextravel.com to your Membership Rewards program-enrolled Card. Any portion of a charge that you elect to pay through redemption of Membership Rewards points is not eligible to earn points. Bonus ID A2EM (Air, Hotel, and Complete Trip); Bonus ID 5432 (Cruise); Bonus ID 6955 (American Express Vacations Packages). Bonus points will be credited to the Membership Rewards account 10-12 weeks after final payment is made."
 
Pros:
  • 4X Membership Rewards points
  • Help from AMEX in case points don't post properly
 
Cons:
  • Foreign transaction fee if your flight purchase is processed outside the U.S., since the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card does charge foreign transaction fees
 
6. Book Directly with the Airline with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: 2.14X
 
Miles / Points Earned: 2.14X Ultimate Rewards points, since the Sapphire Preferred provides a 2X bonus for all travel purchases and 7% annual points dividend
 
Pros:
  • Useful when booking with low cost carriers such as easyjet that count as a foreign transaction and only take MasterCard and Visa 
  • Help from Chase in case points don't post properly, since you're using a Chase card
 
Cons:
  • Lower miles/points vs. above options
 
What are your favorite ways to maximize frequent flyer miles and points when booking airline flights?
 
Related Posts
 
 
 
 
 


Need Award Booking Help? Our fee is as low as $75 per ticket if you book your hotel through us.

If you enjoyed this, please follow TravelSort on Twitter or  like us on Facebook to be alerted to new posts. 

Become a Member to find your perfect luxury or boutique hotel at up to 50% off: TravelSort Hotels

  • |
  • Print
    print |
Related Articles
Comments
User_avatar_default Michael J. commented 16 Mar 2013
Great article. Two Strategic questions. First could you differentiate between the cards which can be churned after cancellation versus those which only permit one lifetime bonus. It would seem to make a big difference on a strategic decision on whether to retain a card. Second when canceling a card I have always poliely declined the retention bonus. I know others accept the retention bonus and then ultimately cancel the card. Is there any negative repercussion from any of the card companies when one takes the retention bonus and then cancels?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 16 Mar 2013
Michael, Thanks, glad the article was helpful! In terms of churning, you may want to see http://travelsort.com/blog/can-you-churn-bank-of-america-barclays-and-us-bank-credit-cards and http://travelsort.com/blog/can-you-churn-the-sapphire-preferred-and-other-chase-credit-cards. And you can definitely get AMEX bonuses again, although watch the terms, since they often specify the bonus is for cardholders that haven't had that particular card within the past 12 months, and certain other AMEX cards within the past 3 months. There are certainly a number of posters on Flyertalk who have done exactly what you describe (getting the retention bonus and still canceling) with seemingly no negative consequences, so it's more an ethical issue and whether you feel it crosses a line or not.
Picture?type=large Flyer C. commented 16 Apr 2013
Another wonderful post Hilary. But I am kinda confused about #1. Don't you get points only if you put the spent on Chase Sapphire Preferred card? How do you get the 5x points anyways?
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 16 Apr 2013
While that's the intent, in reality you can typically use another card or even a gift card to still get the UR Mall points, plus the points for that card. The main risks for #1 are if the purchase does not appear as a purchase directly from the airline, or if Travelocity enforces the "eligible within 3 weeks of booking" stipulation. Some folks have gotten all the points, some have not.
Leave a Comment
Comment
Facebook-logo
Rewards Credit Cards
Get Free Email Blog Updates
Popular Articles
Square_shangri-la_luxury_circle_benefits
1/7/2017
UPDATE: Due to high demand, we are only accepting Luxury Circle Reservations of 2 nights or more from New TravelSort Clients. As usual, quotes are only available after submitting a completed and signed TravelSort New Client Form. Note the $50...
Square_75k_amex_platinum_bonus_offer
1/24/2017
  75K AMEX Platinum and 75K AMEX Business Gold Rewards bonus offers are available to many, using private browsing (Safari) or an Incognito browser window (Google Chrome). To maximize your chances of seeing the offers, be sure to clear your...
Square_200_amex_platinum_airline_fee_credits_posted-2017
1/14/2017
  The $200 AMEX Platinum Airline Fee Credit isn't as easy for most people to use as the $250 Citi Prestige airfare credit or the $300 Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit, for a couple reasons: It's restricted to one airline,...
Square_2017_and_travel_credits-which_credit_cards
1/3/2017
  It's 2017, which means a new round of airline and travel credits from credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, AMEX Platinum, and more. Here's a rundown of the main cards that offer an airline or...
Square_which_travel_credit_cards_i'm_using_most_and_why
2/10/2017
  Which credit cards should you use for which spend? TravelSort reader Ann writes "I've read many of your previous travel credit card posts, but I'm curious about which credit cards you're using most now, and why. My husband and...
Square_10000_alaska_miles_bonus_for_virgin_america_elevate_members
1/9/2017
  10,000 bonus Alaska miles is a nice present today for Virgin America Elevate members who are also Alaska Mileage Plan members. Log into your Alaska Mileage Plan account, and you may see a 10K bonus similar to the following:...
Square_review-british_airways_first_class_747-seat_2a
1/18/2017
  British Airways First Class is often panned in blogger reviews, compared to other international first class products. But the fact remains that British Airways has the most first class flights and seats between Europe and the U.S., by virtue...
Square_brussels_airlines_business_class_booked_using_etihad_miles
12/29/2016
  Brussels Airlines Business Class is a great way to get to Europe, especially if you can book Brussels Airlines Business Class with Etihad miles. That's because it's just 36,620 miles + ~$100 per person roundtrip. Compare that to some of...
Square_100k_chase_sapphire_reserve_offer_to_end_january_11_2017
1/3/2017
  The 100K Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus offer will end January 11, so just 1 week more to apply if you've been on the fence about the card. I'm assuming that the new offer, for applications on January 12 and...
Square_10000_amex_bonus_points-enroll_in_extended_payment_option
12/26/2016
  Earn 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards Points by enrolling in Extended Payment "Pay Over Time" option, if you're targeted. This has been an ongoing AMEX targeted offer, which will appear in a green banner as below when you log into...