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Answers (6)

General concept question about monitoring miles accruals from different sources

General concept question about monitoring miles accruals from different sources

  1. Seeeker

    Hi, newbie here. I’m understanding how miles are earned in various ways, but I don’t seem to have a mental picture yet of how miles are transferred between various accounts once earned.

    For example, let’s say I open up several credit cards, and spend a minimum amount within a monthly period, and earn a bunch of bonus miles first off. Do those miles sit in the account of their respective bank? How do they get used in connection with my United Mileage Plus account? Can I move those miles into my United MileagePlus account so I can then apply them to a flight purchase? I’m just very confused about how to monitor and apply miles when they might be coming from several different credit cards simultaneously.

    Or, right now in my Chase account I have 36,000 points. Can I only spend them through the Chase Rewards website? They have various ways of applying miles to rewards, and they have a flight search tool.

    What if I want to build up 140,000 miles (or whatever) so I can get a first class ticket to Europe? How do I bring all the miles together?

    Sorry if this question is so broad and long, I think I need a tutorial in putting all the pieces together. It’s all rather confusing :(. Thank you.

  2. David W

    Have you read thru all of the beginners guide? [URL][/URL]

    You’ll find answers there but overall, it depends on the miles and points youre accruing. If you have points with Chase/Amex/Citi/SPG, then I would keep points there until you need it. Many transfers take place instantly. You do need to link your United FFN to Chase once, if that/s where you want to transfer the points.

  3. Seeeker

    Yes I have read the beginner’s guide, it’s very helpful. It doesn’t really address the mechanics of how it all works together though. Like I said, how to pull miles together from many different sources. I’ll keep reading.

  4. MidSouthSkier

    Maybe an example would help?

    Let’s say you have 30K miles in the United MileagePlus program and you have 50K Chase Ultimate Rewards (URs) points.

    You find a United flight that is 70K miles so you’d transfer 40K URs to your United account and book directly.

    Or URs can be used like cash to book directly through the Chase website. In that case you can use their portal to find any flight they offer and the portal will tell you how many URs each flight costs. (The price will vary based on the actual cash cost of the flight and not every single flight may be listed.)

    When you use URs to book via the Chase portal you get a fixed-amount per point, usually between 1.0-1.5 cents per point in value. If you transfer the URs to a frequent flyer program it’s possible to get more than 2 cents per point in value.

    But that doesn’t mean booking via the Chase portal is always a bad thing. It can depend on how points-rich/cash-poor you are, or vice-versa.

    Just like some people would “never” book a domestic economy award ticket, circumstances can occur where parting with 25K miles sounds like a bargain if the economy fare is really high, like for last minute flights you might need due to death or illness or even when flying to a small airport where seasonal service is expensive.

    Does that help? If not maybe you can give us a little more info on what’s not making sense.

  5. Seeeker

    Thank you actually that does help. I appreciate the thoughtful assistance. I’ve spent some timing clicking around Chase UR, and United, and this site, and it’s starting to make some sense. Specifically, as you describe transferring points into the United program, I was just looking at that.

    I think where I get confused is the sheer volume and variety of Loyalty programs, especially with the inclusion of all the hotel programs.

    Or, in the beginner guide, the advice for beginners is to sign up for lots of loyalty programs! How many do you really need? If you have one in the Star Alliance network, that’s all you need right (for those SA airlines)?

    Keeping track of all the different accounts, benefits, awards, policies, seems like too much for a casual traveler. But between a few credit cards and my United mileage account, this is making sense.

  6. MidSouthSkier

    You’re right that you don’t need ALL of them. But sometimes strategically purchasing miles is a good deal. If you can purchase miles for $1200 and if you were to buy a ticket outright it would cost $1800 then you’ve saved yourself $600 right there. And many of the frequent flyer programs require that your account must have been open for a certain period of time (often it’s 30 days) before you’re allowed to purchase miles. So opening them now, even without a mileage balance can make sense.

    The other difference is that while yes, you can use UA miles to book flights on their Star Alliance partners, UA charges one price for tickets where the longest leg is on UA planes and a higher price where the longest leg is on a partner. So that 70K example I gave above (and this is purely for example) might be the price for a flight on UA metal, the same routing might be 90K to fly on a Lufthansa plane.

    Another example of why you might want other FF accounts is that many airlines make more award seats available to members booking through their own program instead of using a partner. Lufthansa (LH) is an example of this. If you want to fly LH First Class and you want to book it more than 2 weeks (or so) in advance you’ll need to have a balance in your Miles & More account (their Frequent Flyer program) to be able to book that flight. They just won’t make it available to all their partners.

    There are pluses and minuses to booking via various programs. United, for example, does not pass along fuel surcharges while Lufthansa does. But I believe the general consensus is that LH is a much more enjoyable experience, especially in First since they have an entire terminal for first class passengers in Frankfurt.

    It’s a lot to take in. I’d advise to keep reading and soaking it all in. And keep asking questions!

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