Getting Mileage Out of Miles

Expert flyer George Hobica of Airfarewatchdog.com offers tips on how to be a truly elite awards traveler

ILLUSTRATION BY SERGE SEIDLITZ

Pay First, Upgrade Later

“You can buy a $180 fare for 15,000 miles, or you can just pay that lower fare and use those same miles to upgrade to a business-class ticket, which is a $2,500 value.”

Use Online Airline Shopping Malls

“There are over 300 merchants at the online British Airways and American Airlines stores. They give 2 or 3 more miles per dollar in addition to your credit-card miles.”

Pick Up the Phone

“Instead of booking online, call the airline’s frequent-flyer desk. They have tricks up their sleeve and access to seats you can’t see. Even if you have to pay the $25 booking fee, it can be worth it.”

Start Reading Your Junk Mail

“There are so many bonuses for signing up and spending on credit cards. You get 40,000, 50,000, even 100,000 miles on some airlines just for signing up and using the card.”

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