While travellers from small businesses now have more ways than ever before to earn and redeem frequent flyer miles, very few know all the ways to earn them and how to turn them into real bottom-line savings, according to the non-profit American Small Business Travellers Alliance (ASBTA).
"Most business travellers know they can earn frequent flyer miles by flying or charging purchases on an airline-partnered credit card, but not many know they can earn miles on a home mortgage or by having their taxes prepared by a specific tax accountant," said Heather Martin, ASBTA's chief financial officer.
Likewise, according to Martin, by following some simple frequent flyer programme best practices most small businesses could be saving money by redeeming airline miles for products and services they use every day.
- Know all the options for earning miles.
American Airlines is one of the many airlines that has partnered with a number of travel service providers to help travellers earn more frequent flyer miles using its AAdvantage programme. In addition to more traditional awards, such as earning 50 AAdvantage miles per day on an Avis rental car and 500 AAdvantage miles per stay at participating Hilton hotels, members can also earn up to 1,000 extra miles by having H&R Block manage their tax affairs, or 1,000 miles for every US$10,000 financed on a new home purchase with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.
- Redeem miles for what you use most.
Most frequent flyer programmes offer members the opportunity to redeem points for more than just flights and hotel stays. Small business owners can take advantage of this by using points toward anything from magazine subscriptions to rewarding employees or clients with gifts of airline miles. Such programmes make it possible for members to cash in miles for free car rentals and hotel stays. For example, Hilton HHonors members can earn both HHonors points and airline miles on 55 participating airlines, including American Airlines, Delta, British Airways and AeroMexico.
- Take advantage of independent points programmes.
Beyond the airlines' frequent flyer programmes, small business travellers can also take advantage of independent points programmes and publications. For example, the Points.com points exchange allows members of many loyalty programmes to combine and exchange points and miles among a variety of loyalty schemes and currencies. For example you could exchange 10,000 AAdvantage miles for 4,500 eBay Anything Points, which can be used to pay for eligible items purchased on eBay. Very frequent flyers can also benefit from subscribing to publications such as InsideFlyer which offers news and advice on earning and redeeming miles and points.
"There are dozens of ways to earn airline miles and most people don't have to change what they're already doing to earn them," said Martin. "The trick is simply knowing what companies your frequent flyer programme partners with and understanding how to get the miles."