Learn How to Earn and Spend Frequent Flyer Miles

This article may contain referral links. Read our DISCLOSURE

If you’re like most people, trying to unravel the web of travel miles can be incredibly frustrating. However it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s guest writer, Summer Hull, explains just how to reap the best of airline frequent flyer miles and travel the world as a result. It’s a boomer travel resource that you’ll want to bookmark.

You’re probably a member of a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program, but have you actually used those miles and points to your advantage? I began leveraging my loyalty currency back in my college days as a way to stretch my travel budget and what started out as a hobby actually became the basis for my blog, MommyPoints.com. While I set out to tell families how they too can earn and redeem miles and points for fabulous vacations, I’ve actually attracted a subset of readers who are sometimes even better suited to leverage their loyalty currency: baby boomers and retirees.

Frequent Flyer Toolkits

It makes sense. Baby boomers are winding down their careers or have already retired and therefore have the flexibility to take advantage of last-minute travel deals and reduced rate flight awards. American Airlines and Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), in particular, often offer award flights at reduced rates so watch for that. Baby boomers also often tend to have some cash in the bank, which can be a vehicle for earning miles for doing nothing at all. Finally, retirees tend to have long credit files and high credit scores (720 or higher) and that’s a boon if you decide to dabble in rewards credit cards that often offer incredibly generous sign-up bonuses as well as bonus miles and points for everyday expenditures.

My own (partially) retired parents are in their mid-60s and are completing travel dreams and destinations at a record pace thanks to miles, points, and travel deals.

Earn 150,000 Miles for $235

Let’s talk about how you can easily earn 150,000 American Airlines miles for about $235.

Move Some Money to BankDirect: If you’re like a lot of retirees, you’re taking annual distributions from your IRA, but you may not be spending that money. If you’ve got cash sitting in an account, move it to a BankDirect checking account. If you have $50,000 on deposit, you’ll earn 5,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles each month. That’s 60,000 miles per year and you’ll only pay $144 in fees ($12 per month).

Park Your Cash with Fidelity Investments: Fidelity also rewards customers with American Airlines AAdvantage miles. If you deposit new funds (not already in an existing Fidelity account), you’ll receive 50,000 miles for a $100,000 deposit, 25,000 miles for a $50,000 deposit, and 15,000 miles for a $25,000 deposit. You can simply keep your money in a cash account and make withdrawals at any time. Just be sure to keep the correct balance during the promotional period in order to receive your bonus miles.

Sign Up for a U.S. Airways Premier World MasterCard: U.S. Airways is merging with American Airlines but the duo hasn’t yet merged their frequent flyer programs. You can still sign up for this credit card from Barclays Bank and get 40,000 U.S. Airways Dividend miles when you make your first purchase, which can be something as small as a pack of gum or a cup of coffee. You will pay an annual fee of $89. You can redeem the miles on either U.S. Airways or American Airlines, or on any of their OneWorld or other partner airlines.

Frequent Flyer Toolkits

Where Will 150,000 Miles Take You?
Once you have the 150,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles in your account, you can redeem them for some pretty terrific values. One domestic round-trip ticket to anywhere in the continental United States or even Alaska is just 25,000 miles. Head to Hawaii for between 35,000 miles (off-peak) and 45,000 miles round-trip in coach or just 75,000 miles round-trip in business class. Looking to go to Europe? Off-peak economy awards are just 40,000 miles roundtrip or 60,000 miles during the rest of the year. You can even get to Africa or Tahiti for just 75,000 miles round-trip (economy class).

I discuss these earning strategies—as well as many others—at my blog.

Readers of My Itchy Travel Feet can sign up for the Frequent Flyer Toolkits email list to receive four free resources to help you earn and redeem your next nearly free flight or hotel stay. You’ll receive The Mommy Points Beginner’s Guide to Earning Nearly Free Travel, a podcast about the best flight redemption values available today, a miles-and-points tracker, and an award flight-planning calendar.

Do you have any tips for getting the most out of frequent flyer miles? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email.

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

Boomer travelers rely on our weekly email newsletter for fresh travel inspiration, tips, and advice. It's free! No spam, unsubscribe anytime.