I’ll admit it. Ive missed out on some pretty terrific deals in the frequent flyer world for one reason and one reason only: I wasn’t prepared to take advantage of them. Sometimes a fare war makes a trip to a specific destination incredibly affordable. Or an airline may be offering reduced mileage rewards to certain destinations.
Airlines and banks also frequently offer transfer bonuses, and while they aren’t generally as time sensitive, its easy to get busy and forget to take advantage.
So, how can you make sure you’re a prepared frequent flyer and are always ready to take advantage of prime opportunities?
Sign Up for Loyalty Programs Now
Some of the most lucrative promotions over the past few months have included bonuses for buying miles from airlines like US Airways and Avianca. However, terms and conditions of such promotions often require that you have an existing loyalty account. In other words, you cant open a new account to take advantage of the bonus promotion. Review which programs you belong to and open accounts with any stragglers. It doesn’t cost anything to join.
Pre-Populate Your Frequent Flyer Accounts with Your Information
Every now and then fare wars break out between airlines vying for the traffic from the mainland to the Hawaiian Islands, for example. The last time this happened I hopped online and tried to buy tickets for my family as well as my brother and sisters families. I got all the way to the traveler information page and realized I didn’t have some necessary data like the exact name on their license, frequent flyer numbers, passport numbers, the birth years of their kids, etc.
You know how this story is going to end. Availability had dried up by the time I rounded up all the data needed to make the purchase and went back to the site. Don’t let this happen to you. Most airlines allow you to save traveler profiles to your account. That way, you just have to select the name of the traveler from a drop-down menu while purchasing tickets online.
Set Up Automated Reminders
Sometimes Ive missed out on a deal because I just had too many other things going on in my life. There have been a few times when I meant to pick up US Airways miles during buy and share bonus promotions, but I just plain forgot about the promotion end date. When a deal like this comes up that interests you, add the end date into your calendar and set up an alarm to remind you when its about to expire.
This is probably the most important piece of advice. When a deal comes around that interests you, jump on it! Don’t overthink things or dawdle. That deal may be gone by the time you make up your mind and then you’ll be kicking yourself.
There have been some terrific credit-card sign-up bonuses that were very short-lived and I missed out on them because I waffled. The American Express sign-up bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards points comes to mind.
If a deal will help you reach your travel goals, go for it!