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How To Earn and Redeem Airline Miles: A Guide for Beginners

Airline miles, also known as frequent flyer points, are rewards earned either by being a regular traveller with an airline or its partners, or with partner programmes. These miles can be redeemed for a variety of benefits, including free flights, premium cabin upgrades, hotels, rental cars, merchandise, and more.

In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of earning airline miles, the various ways you can earn them, and what you can do with them.

How to earn airline miles

Flying with a specific airline

The most straightforward way to earn miles is by flying with a specific airline. Many airlines have tiered rewards systems, where the more you fly, the more miles you can earn. Some airlines also have partnerships with other airlines, allowing you to earn miles for flights taken with their partner airlines. Therefore, choosing the airline to accrue your miles in is important – knowing which airlines cover routes to countries you frequently fly to means you have a better chance of accumulating more miles.

Mile programmes aren’t always unique to one airline. For example, partner airlines of Singapore Airlines that use the Krisflyer Miles programme, include Alaska Airlines, Vistara, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, and Juneyao Airlines.

Using a co-branded credit card

Another way to earn miles is by using a co-branded credit card that is affiliated with a specific airline, or which offers you points that lets you redeem them for miles. These cards usually offer bonus miles for making purchases, and sometimes also offer extra miles for specific purchases such as dining or shopping. Citi PremierMiles, DBS Altitude, UOB Krisflyer are a few examples of cards that can earn you airline miles.

DBS Altitude Card is one of the best used for travel bookings and overseas spending: you earn 3 miles for every S$1 spent on online flight and hotel transactions, 2 miles for every S$1 spent overseas (at point of sale) and 1.2 miles for every S$1 spent locally.

Shopping through airline shopping portals

Many airlines have online shopping portals where you can earn miles by making purchases through their site.

Singapore’s Krisshop sells a wide array of items such as perfume from Coach, gadgets from Garmin and bags from Tumi, which nets you a good amount of miles. You stand to earn between 2 to 4 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1 spent on all KrisShop purchases made inflight on Singapore Airlines, KrisWorld and on KrisShop.com when you link your KrisFlyer account to KrisShopper.

American Airline’s AAdvantage offers an extension that you can enable, that automatically rakes in miles when you shop on official websites ranging from Lenovo, Sephora, to Adidas. Members shopping on AAdvantage earn 3,238 miles on average annually!

Dining at participating restaurants and hotels

Some airlines have partnerships with restaurants, allowing you to earn miles when you dine at a participating restaurant. Similarly, some airlines have partnerships with hotels, allowing you to earn miles when you stay at a participating hotel.

Kris+ Gastronomy Series 2022: Purchasing any curated dining menus at any of their partner restaurants offers you a whopping earn rate of 15 miles per S$1 spent, when you pay with Kris+. Some of the restaurants include Mikuni, Bee Cheng Hiang and Tonitos.

Krisflyer members are entitled to 500 miles per eligible stay at all participating Hotels and Resorts, which spans across America, Europe, Asia, Middle East & North Africa and New Zealand.

Alternatively, you can book your hotel through Agoda and earn 2 KrisFlyer miles for every US$1 spent on your hotel booking.

The type of credit card you use to dine also factors into consideration. The American Express Platinum card, which is only for Platinum 10Xcelerator Partners for Dining, allows you to earn 7.81 miles for every S$1 spent. Another alternative is the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card, valid only for contactless payments including Google Pay, Apple Pay and UOB Mighty, allowing you to earn 4 miles for every S$1 spent.

Transferring Miles

If you have a credit card from a general travel rewards program, you may be able to transfer miles or points into KrisFlyer to redeem directly with Singapore Airlines.

Under the American Express Membership Rewards programme, and with an AmEx card, you can transfer Membership Rewards points into KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 rate in 1,000-point increments.

Cardholders who earn Citi’s Thank You rewards points can transfer to Singapore Airlines at a 1:1 rate in 1,000-point increments.

Read more: Unique Places To Visit for New Experiences While on a Budget

What you can do with airline miles

Redeem for flights

The most common use of airline miles is to redeem them for free flights. Miles can also be used to book flights on partner airlines. For example, Krisflyer’s one-way saver awards start at 7,500 miles for shorter-distance economy travel and go up to 295,000 for some longer first class or suites awards outside of saver availability.

Upgrade to a premium cabin

Miles can be used to upgrade your flight to a premium cabin, offering extra comfort and amenities during your flight.

Upgrading using Krisflyer miles depends on the Zone (region) of the flight, which can be determined here. United Airlines also has an accessible upgrade chart, depending on region and mileage.

Book hotels and rental cars

Miles can be used to book hotels and rental cars, allowing you to save money on these expenses during your travels.

Krisflyer vRooms program allows you to redeem miles for hotels as well as rent cars. Using AirAsia BIG Hotels portal, you can redeem miles to secure stays at their participating hotels.

Purchase merchandise

Miles can also be used to purchase merchandise, such as electronics, clothing, and more, from the airline’s online store or partner merchants.

Just as you can earn from shopping at Krisshop, you can also use your miles in place of money to purchase from the portal. Airasia’s reward portal allows you to earn and redeem miles from their app easily.

Donate to charity

Some airlines also allow you to donate your miles to charity, making it a great option for travellers who don’t have immediate travel plans. Krisflyer miles can be donated to Make-A-Wish Singapore, granting wishes to children with terminal illnesses.

There are alternate programs such as Miles4Migrants that accept most vouchers from Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest, JetBlue, Allegiant Air and others.

Read more: Channel Travel Savings Into Your First Investments — How To Get Started

Airlines offering miles

While there are many airline mile programmes, we picked the top few that are the biggest and most relevant from flyers in Singapore.

Singapore Airlines, KrisFlyer programme

Singapore Airlines is one of the largest airlines in Southeast Asia, and its KrisFlyer program is a popular option for travellers in the region.

AirAsia BIG loyalty programme

AirAsia is a low-cost carrier based in Malaysia with a presence in multiple Southeast Asian countries. The AirAsia BIG loyalty program allows travellers to earn and redeem miles for a variety of benefits.

Emirates Skywards programme

Emirates is a Dubai-based airline with a large global network, and its Skywards program is a popular option for travellers looking to earn and redeem miles.

United Airlines, MileagePlus programme

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the United States, and its MileagePlus program is a popular option for American travellers.

British Airways, Executive Club programme

British Airways is one of the largest airlines in Europe, and its Executive Club program is a popular option for travellers in the region.

Conclusion

In conclusion, earning and redeeming airline miles can offer a variety of benefits to frequent travellers. From earning miles through flights and everyday purchases to redeeming them for free flights, premium cabin upgrades, and more, there are many ways to get the most out of your airline miles.

While doing your budgeting for your next trip, do consider how you can best spend on dining, shopping and booking so that you can earn miles to save in the long term!

Read more: The Ultimate List of Travel Hacks for the Budget-Conscious Traveller

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