THE ZEN OF CHEAP FLIGHTS, PART 3. HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CASH BY USING MILES AND POINTS

Loyalty programs provide most opportunities to get real discounts on flights and are the best ways to fly for cheap.

ARE FREQUENT FLYER PROGRAMS WORTH IT?

Let’s put it this way: If you’re booking flights with a major airline and you’re not earning miles, you’re throwing away free money (!)

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YOU DON'T NEED TO FLY TO EARN MILES

Get free miles on hotel stays, car rentals, from shopping websites, and when dining out. Convert points from travel credit card to miles if you have one.

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ONE EYE-OPENING TIP FOR CHEAP TRAVEL WORLDWIDE

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It’s as simple as that: get a travel credit card that offers a sign-up bonus. It's the fastest way to get tens of thousands of points right from the start. You will be able to travel for free, or almost free.

Long story short: credit card points offer more flexibility than frequent flyer miles. While airline miles are stuck with that airline, bank points can be used like cash toward the airfare, or transferred to several different airlines. 

MILES OR POINTS?

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The cheaper the ticket, the lower the redemption value. You will get the most bang for your buck if you redeem your miles for the long-haul, business, or first-class tickets, instead of using them for economy class tickets.

WHICH FLIGHTS OFFER THE BEST REDEMTION VALUE

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Award flights tend to be more stable than flights-for-cash which can fluctuate wildly as the departure date comes closer. While the last-minute flight is a no-no when using cash, the frequent flyer miles can work really well when booking last-minute travel

A SURPRISING CASE OF LAST MINUTE FLIGHTS

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An airline alliance is an arrangement between airlines. Alliances offer reciprocal benefits frequent fliers. This includes interchangeable miles: you can earn frequent flyer miles on one airline and redeem them on another allied member. 

AIRLINE ALLIANCE: THE KEY TO CHEAP FLIGHS

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If you want to score the cheapest possible flights (and you are patient enough), wait for big flash sales. During those special, one-off events the airline sells award flights for dirt-cheap rates, charging far fewer miles than a regular price. 

FLASH SALES: THE CHEAPEST TICKETS EVER! 

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Airline miles depreciate over time. Airlines intentionally devalue miles by increasing the redemption cost or tacking on additional fees. Try to spend miles whenever you can.

SPEND YOUR MILES ASAP 

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