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Top 3 Mistakes People Make With Their Airline Miles

I recently came across an article by The Points Guy that identified ten mistakes business travelers often make with their frequent flier miles. It was so helpful, I wanted to share what I thought were the top three mistakes and how to avoid them. For the other seven mistakes, visit The Points Guy.

Top mistakes business travelers make with their airline miles

  1. Letting Miles Expire – Leaving miles unused for a period of time can result in expiration of those miles, rendering them useless. The expiration term is different for each airline; some may only be 12 months, others are seven years. An easy way to avoid losing thousands of earned miles is to keep them active by making a cheap purchase in your program’s shopping portal, something like a DVD or an iTunes song. At this rate, you’re “spending” 99 cents or maybe a few bucks to hang on to your miles!
  2. Redeeming Miles for Merchandise – If you are contemplating a new big screen TV or hanging onto the miles you earned on that spontaneous trip a few years back, you might decide the TV holds more value for you. However, before unloading all of those miles on merchandise, make sure you understand the value of the exchange that is taking place. You’ll likely get a better deal using your miles on airfare and purchasing the TV with your airline credit card.
  3. Hoarding Them – Earlier this year, Christopherson Business Travel published a blog post about the recent changes to United Airline’s MileagePlus® program. Delta too has introduced updates to their SkyMiles® program and American Airlines is right behind them. My advice is: Don’t hoard your miles. Unlike some assets, miles typically lose their value over time. With airlines’ evolving award schedules, mileage requirements are rarely decreased to obtain your next reward.
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Upcoming Changes to United’s MileagePlus Program

Mileage programs have become a major source of revenue for U.S. carriers and a primary source for retaining business travelers and keeping them away from competing carriers. United’s MileagePlus members, for example, are waiting with anticipation for the official launch of the new 2012 program, which will take effect once United and Continental have completed their conversion to a single technology system, scheduled for later in the first quarter of 2012. United will advise its members of the effective date in the coming weeks. Until then, United’s MileagePlus and Continental’s OnePass programs will continue to operate separately.
The new United MileagePlus program will have four membership levels:
Premier 1K
100,000 Premier qualifying miles or 120 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Platinum
75,000 Premier qualifying miles or 90 Premier qualifying segments
Premium Gold
50,000 Premium qualifying miles or 50 Premier qualifying segments
Premier Silver
25,000 Premium qualifying miles or 30 Premium qualifying segments
Global Services will continue as an exclusive, invitation only program for United’s top customers. United is also offering additional ways for travelers to earn miles through a MileagePlus Explore Card. Complete benefit information and details can be found online at MileagePlusMergerUpdates.com.