How to Make the Most of Your Airline Miles

With some carriers, it's not how far you fly, it's how much you spend that counts.

Frequent fliers are used to earning airline miles based on how far they fly. Increasingly, U.S. airlines—-including American Airlines, Delta and United—-are changing the formula to award miles based on how much you spend on your ticket. The shift to revenue-based programs means travelers who splurge on expensive tickets will see a surge in miles compared with thriftier travelers. Those who grab an economy-class sale to, say, Singapore might come up short in their frequent-flier accounts.

Leisure travelers can maximize rewards by tweaking their strategies. Credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred card let you transfer points to a number of airlines, for example; banks and brokerages, including Fidelity, dole out bonus miles for opening an account or, in some cases, making a deposit. You can also earn miles for shopping at various retailers through airline portals. Consult to compare deals.

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Miriam Cross
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance
Miriam lived in Toronto, Canada, before joining Kiplinger's Personal Finance in November 2012. Prior to that, she freelanced as a fact-checker for several Canadian publications, including Reader's Digest Canada, Style at Home and Air Canada's enRoute. She received a BA from the University of Toronto with a major in English literature and completed a certificate in Magazine and Web Publishing at Ryerson University.