Win a trip to the Gold Coast of Australia (Official Post)

Okay – it’s finally here.

This giveaway is sponsored by American Express Premier Gold Card Rewards card and the travel experts at BoardingArea.

The prize: Seven nights/eight days hotel accommodations, transportation, meals, activities and round-trip airfare for two people to the Gold Coast of Australia (Queensland). (And the trip is a revenue trip so it is points and miles earning ;))

Total value = $10,250!

Those that can enter: The contest is open at all United States residents, 18 years and older (void in US territories). For the complete list of full contest details and rules click here

How to enter: Post a comment on this blog post with an answer to this question: “What is your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?”

You can enter between March 22, 2010 and March 28, 2010. Increase your chances of winning by posting a comment on the other 20 BoardingArea blogs that are participating. Only one entry per person per blog.

After March 28, 2010, I will randomly select one of the comments from this post to move on to the final drawing pool of 20 winners. So go ahead and comment!

Flight Diversions

Fly Gracefully

The Gate

Loyalty Traveler

Marshall Jackson on Travel

Miles Quest

Musings of The Global Traveler

One Mile at a Time

Pearls of Travel Wisdom

Planereality

Points, Miles and Martinis

Points Wizard

Road Warriorette

Things in the Sky

TM Travel World

Unroadwarrior

View From the Wing

The Wandering Aramean

Wing and a Prayer

Comments

  1. Always know the promotions for your program and do your best to take advantage of them.

  2. If you get a rep that says it cant be done, hang up and call again until you get a rep that will work with you and is knowledgeable. Try try try again.

  3. Do the math. Even if a domestic ticket seems expensive, it’s almost never worth it to burn miles. Save them for your international trips.

  4. My top tip for using mileage points is to plan well in advance and to fully understand the specific restrictions of the program.

  5. One tip that has served me well: be aware of opportunities to transfer miles/points from one program to another for free without devaluation.

    A good one is Amtrak Guest Rewards -> Continental OnePass. Limit of 50K per year – and even that might only be for Amtrak elite pax. It’s a steal. Eg right now there’s an offer for the co-branded Chase MC that yields 18K Amtrak points upon activation and another 18K with $2K spend. Easiest 36K Continental miles I’ve every heard of.

    Similarly know how much the miles/points are worth to you so you know when to earn and when to burn.

  6. Points are in the details, understand where the bonuses are and how to get them as cheaply as possible.

    Then to spend them plan as early as possible and do the research on mile required, could find a steal where you least expect it.

  7. As I’ve gotten older, my time has become more valuable and I’ve had more disposable income. Therefore, I recommend being a little more willing to spend money instead of sacrifice time to build mileage balances.

    On Continental, I have the Presidental Plus credit card, which gives a 25% redeemable miles bonus. I pay in advance for the Extra Mile bonus, which is another 50%. I have Platinum status, offering a 100% bonus. And I frequently purchase B fares, which are upgradeable at booking and earn 150% EQM, good for keeping status.

  8. Be friendly with hotel/airline counter agents! You just may get upgraded – especially if you are traveling on a special occasion such as your honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Let them know!

  9. I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! Also, try to only use one airline when you fly.

  10. Know what your programs’ expiration rules are and what it takes to keep your miles/points from expiring. Even if you don’t have enough miles in your account to take a flight, you may have an opportunity in the future to get enough for a ticket. Keeping miles alive in many programs can also be done cheaply. For example, buying a song on iTunes keeps United miles alive for another 18 months.

  11. Don’t forget conversions from airline to hotel programs (normally horrid rates in the other direction). Your whole vacation (flights, car hire, hotel) can be booked with miles from a single program.

  12. Many airline carriers allow for one-way award redemptions. If you have trouble finding round trip award availability at the lowest redemption level, do some one-way searches before ponying up the higher amount of miles

  13. My advice would be to “get loyal” with a favorite hotel chain/ airline/ rental car company – higher level loyal members, Starwood Platinums, Hyatt Diamonds, United 1ks, for example not only earn base points but bonus points for these member classifications, as well as other perks and upgrades (free) that rewards the loyal frequent traveler.

    Also, using a branded credit card to pay for these hotel rooms and plane tickets (United’s Visa, Starwood’s Amex, for example) have a way of being a point multiplier for increased earnings ad well.

  14. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points? At Christmastime, do all your shopping online for FF miles! I’ve racked up lots of points this way and have traveled to Europe and California using my FF miles.

  15. concentrate on one or two programs and make certain you know the rules for earning, redeeming and expirations…

  16. Use the Starwood AMEX to accumulate points, then transfer to your favorite airline program with a 25% bonus for 20,000 point exchanges. Alternatively keep Starwood Amex points in reserve so you can transfer smaller amounts to “top off” airline accounts to reach the award you need.

  17. Earn/consolidate to one frequent flyer program of an alliance. Always check the ‘Fare basis code’. Starwood Preferred Guest card is best credit card for earning miles, gives 5k bonus for redeeming 20k miles to 30 different FFP program.

  18. My top tip:

    Never let a mile go waste: Never pay cash when you can charge to a mile earning card, never let any miles expire, never miss a mileage promotion and never use miles for free flights for yourself.

  19. Air miles and some hotel points expire. When you sign up to earn these miles, ask the related parties how long you have to accrue the points, how long they are valid and if there are policies on extending earned miles or awards. Be careful!

  20. I have never found the “miles” credit cards to be worth it — having lots of miles but no elite status = getting poor service, whether on flights or hotels — and then you end up doing inconvenient things to use your miles before they expire, e.g. spending lots of time in the Atlanta airport. I prefer to stick with one airline & hotel brand and try to max out my elite bonuses for a better experience.

  21. Consider earning your UA/AA points with a different carrier. Air Canada’s program has advantages over Mileage Plus, for example, including better availability on partner carriers (no StarNet blocking!)

  22. Consolidate to one or two rewards programs, enter all promotions, and use points as they accumulate so much as is reasonable to counter any fears of inflationary pressures the points may face (and limits the need to worry about expiration dates).

  23. If you find you are getting “spun” by the hotels and airlines when you try to use your points/miles, write directly (and nicely) to the CEO of the company (registered mail), with all the facts and details, enclosing all relevant documents. We had hundreds of thousands of points and miles but couldn’t use them for one reason or another for years… UNTIL I did that. We were contacted Immediately and got to have the honeymoon of our DREAMS, and the hotels and airlines treated us like GOLD! I have used this technique effectively with CEOS from several major corporations to resolve a variety of issues. As my dad said “You don’t ask, you don’t get”! But ask Nice!

  24. If you only travel a moderate amount, make every hotel stay one night and then switch hotels for the next night. This is the qucikest way to elite levels at the hotel chains. The hotels always require less stays than nights to reach elite levels, so by switching hotels nightly, you can earn elite status with just 2-3 stays per month.

  25. The best advice I ever received is to pick one carrier/alliance and one hotel chain and stick with it. It’s much better to be the top of one program than the middle of many. You want all of the points you achieve to get you the most you possibly can, not spread out across different alliances or chains.

  26. Read Flyertalk and blogs like this for the latest advice on mileage earning and burning opportunities.

  27. Plan plan plan followed by some math. It takes less time than you would imagine and would save money and max return on miles. Try it.
    For a Trip: How many miles are you using + How many miles you would have earned if using own money + Taxes

    Calculate

  28. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines partner with one another!). Save those miles for your dream first-class trip anywhere! Luxurious air travel is the best way to get the most out of your miles. 😀

    Thanks!

  29. In terms of earning miles, really focus one one airline, but decide what Airline Alliance you want to be a part of. However, independent airlines are good too. For example, Alaska is affiliated with Qantas (One World) and Air France (Sky Team), among other airlines in different alliances.

    In terms of spending….forget the domestic travel (unless you don’t have enough) and focus on international travel (Business or First class if you have enough). The major US airlines are ranked as 3-star airlines. On one US airline, for my salad it was just shredded iceberg lettuce with not even a shred of carrot…along with the $6 bottle of wine I bought! When I flew on Air France (a 4-star airline), I turned to my friend and asked her if we were in business class jokingly. These flight attendants not only served us great food, but they were generous with the alcohol. After dinner, our flight attendant asked if we liked cognac. He then gave us some pear cognac which was a top shelf alcohol and it was so amazing!!!

    Focus on using your miles on an affiliate that is a 4 or 5-star airline, such as Air France, Qantas, or Singapore Airlines (which is one of the few 5-stars). 2nd: If you can fly business or first class for an international flight, try to use it on longer flights. For example: JFK-London is only an 8 hour flight. Whereas LAX-SYDney is over 14 hours. MUCH BETTER YET: With my United Miles, I flew on Singapore Airlines (5-star VS 3-star) business class from LAX to Bali. Why is this better? The routing is LAX-NRT-SIN-DPS (Bali). This is a very long trip to begin with, but in addition to this, because you are business or first class, you get to use the business/first class lounges at LAX, NRT, SIN, and DPS. These lounges have free alcoholic drinks, free food, and some have dark areas that allow you to sleep.

  30. Pick an alliance, use it. Pay for everything with your miles card. Use any opportunity for double and triple miles offers. Use up the miles before the airline goes out of business.

  31. Focus on a few – preferably one loyalty programs – for flights and hotels and try to maximize the amount of points you can gain for these programs. Like George Clooney says in “Up in the air” – never spend a dime without trying to gain points for it. Taking advantage of the excellent resources on the web – like boarding area blogs that will help you find all the ways to earn those points. Then use ’em quickly and enjoy!

  32. sign up for every program. I sharply regret the stays and flights I made before enrolling thinking a one night stay here and there it was not worth it.

  33. Earn every chance you can and credit to as few programs as possible (consolidate). For example, credit flights to one airline program per alliance and when staying at a hotel outside your “preferred” hotel program(s), try to credit to an airline rather than holding just a couple of points in every program.

  34. I use my rewards card to pay for almost everything, and then have my wife book trips. It just works better that way.

  35. Constantly stay up to date with the Boarding Area blogs and follow your programs on Flyer Talk.

  36. Obtain the credit card for your favorite airline. If you’re going to be spending money anyway you may as well get something for it. Also the program I use you can use mile to upgrade to first class on international flights. For example on a discount economy ticket from New York to Tokyo, which can run about $900 roundtrip, you can upgrade to first class for 60,000 miles and $1000 roundtrip. That same first class ticket would cost over $11000 and because you still earn miles for the flight that means it only costs you 45000 miles to save $9000.

  37. Use the miles. Don’t hang onto them!

    Don’t spend a dollar without earning a point or a mile.

  38. I tell my husband to buy lots of stuff on our rewards card and then I use the rewards for trips!

  39. Don’t let your accumulated miles take on too much OR too little importance; use them as a tool that fits your personal circumstances. If you don’t often travel internationally, resist the urge to hoard miles for international vacations. If you need a quick, last-minute flight to visit an ailing relative or get to a job interview, use your miles! Put your miles to work for the things that matter to you.

  40. Read Boarding Area blogs – they boil down the fluff into the nitty gritty. Join Flyertalk and forge invaluable friendships with people who can help cover all the bases. They got my back!

  41. My Tip:
    Finding award availability on the internet is not always easy – each airline website has its own quirks. Some don’t show partner award availability, some have a very poor search feature, and some don’t make it easy to look at multiple days at a time. I like ANA.co.jp for most Star Alliance availability, BA.com for OneWorld, and you have to work a combination of Airfrance.com and Delta.com to find SkyTeam awards. Each has its pluses and minuses. Sometimes you have to search segment by segment and piece together the whole trip. It can be frustrating, but assembling this information will be essential to finding the award you want.

    Once you have the data – and a few alternatives – pick up the phone and call an agent. You will pay a few extra dollars, but if you are looking for Business Class or First Class it will be well worth it. And, try not to overpay for awards: often times the easy way to find a seat is to pay extra miles for the “Flexible” awards but with patience and the right search tools you can usually do much better as long as you are flexible.

  42. Don’t ignore the hotel side of award trips. A one-week vacation will set you back just as much in hotels as airfare, so maximize your hotel stays. I like the Starwood American Express card because of the flexibility of the points, good award availability and options (eg. cash+points, redeem 4 nights and get 1 free), and the nice properties. And you can transfer the points to airlines if you want.

    Kim

  43. When booking award travel, consider destinations that tend to be the most expensive in the geographic area. For example, in Central America, think Roatan rather than Costa Rica. Both are lovely, but the former will cost much more if paying in cash if you decide you want to go there the next year.

  44. Leave good instructions for your heirs on how to access your miles in all your accounts. You don’t want them to go to waste– rather, you want your kids to be able to use them should you die unexpectedly. Once the airline knows you’re gone, they will probably lock your miles.

  45. Try and sketch out your years travel at the start of the year. This lets you calculate your flight miles goal and predict when you’ll reach it. You can then estimate when you’re likely to reach your goal and look into other methods (hotels, car rentals etc) to speed things along.

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