I was wondering if there are any tips on being able to maximize or make the best use of airline miles aquired on different airlines? I travel by air at least once a month, but one of the delemas I have is that I work for a non-profit organization and I need to go with the cheapest fare. I know some airlines will use other airline miles if they are in alliances. But I wondered if there was a "best practice" for being able to get the most out of those frequent flyer miles across the various airlines?
You can try visiting points.com. They enable you to take your points/miles from one program and convert them over to another program. You end up losing a lot in the process (they don't give them to you 1:1), but it does mean you can rack up miles in your preferred program that much faster.
Hope that helps!
Im a big air miles fan - l collect mine through bmi which is part of star alliance which is the largest grouping of airlines and includes United, Singapore, Thai, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, Lot, Tap, Austrian, Asiana, Air Canada and others which l cant remember off top of my head.
With bmi to get a blue card you simply need to take 2 flights with them send of the boarding cards and bobs your uncle. You then can collect airmiles on any of the star alliance partners and also spend your miles with them.
I have been a member 2 years now and am over the 100k miles and have a gold card as along with airmiles you get status miles too meaning you can upgrade your membership - blue, silver & gold and get more benefits - luggage allowances, lounge access etc. BTW that 100k miles l have collected have just got me to Austrailia & New Zealand this Xmas for the grand sum of £170 in tax.
You can also collect miles via bmi (MBNA) credit card, hotel stays ie Hilton & Jurys hotels and car hire (Avis).
There are other airline partnerships - SkyTeam, OneWorld (BA is a member) but l have been able to gleen the most benefits from Star Alliance - with BA for example to get to gold you need to be flying the expensive seats all the time which isnt going to happen for me unless l win the lottery!
Hope this is useful!
A couple of things I would suggest.
(1) Get yourself a credit card that gives you points. Regardless of who you fly with then, you will get points that can be exchanged for air travel, hotels or other travel items in the future. My American Express points got me a digital camera and a flight to Africa.
(2) Try and stick as much as possible with one airline (or, if possible, airline alliance). Think about unusual routings to bring the cost down and maximize your points. For example, it might be too expensive to fly direct, but you might be able to find a lower cost airfare flying through somewhere else. This will allow you to stay on the same airline and give you more points than the direct flight anyway.
Check out some of the frequent flyer boards that exist on the internet like Flyertalk.com, where you will find people that are experts at maximizing points.