When it comes to frequent flyer program there are ton of them available. That said the way to get that free flight award faster requires two steps:
1. To identify which frequent flyer program best meets your needs and collect miles on them.
2. To know techniques which can help collecting miles faster so that you can redeem your award quicker.
The answer to (1.) lies in two things:
Once you identify the FF program based on above two parameters the next question (2.) is to find the techniques to collect the miles faster. I have written a generic answer on Ways to Accumulate Miles & Points, but this post will go in more details for specific examples.
Let's start with an example:
You are in US wishing to visit Male in Maldives for that dream trip.
The best bet to get there could be either Via Singapore or Doha. Since you are in US it would be hard to collect miles for either one of those, but you have Star Alliance to your rescue here. Since US Airways and United Airlines both are member of this alliance you can essentially collect miles on any one of them to get to Male.
Once you know that US Airways or United Airlines can get you there, the next question is to search how many miles? I did a random search on united.com and below are the results for flights from San Francisco (SFO) to Male (MLE) and the cost in miles. The total price is 80k miles and $57.7. Just to give a perspective I have also shown the cost in actual $$.
The next step is how to get those miles? There are more than 1 ways to get there and I will highlight one of them below:
Credit Card Churn: As you would have known by now the easiest way to get the miles/points for that free flight is taking credit card. Since we need 80k miles below are the cards you can take:
United partners earning:
This was just a glimpse on what is possible. You could earn potentially miles by renting a car, staying in a hotel or filling up the gas! There are tons of free ways of earning miles as well like enrolling for MyPoints (500 miles) or Buying from Gilt (1500 miles after $50 spend), E-miles (250 e-miles) and E-rewards (250 miles only by invitation). For complete list of United Mileage earning partners check here.
Hopefully this will help to piece that trip together!
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