If you fly often enough, you come across amazing deals you can’t pass on. Many times these deals happen to be on airlines you don’t usually fly. For example, I found a $600 flight to Zagreb, Croatia on Lot Airlines worth about 5 cents a mile. While you will earn full value for these miles, they will not be very valuable to you. It would be a shame to let these miles wither and die or not collect them at all. In this article I am going to show you how to credit your miles to partner airlines.
How to Credit Your Miles to Partner Airlines
Th simple solution: Make sure the miles go towards your preferred frequent flyer program from the beginning.
Make sure the miles go towards your preferred frequent flyer program from the beginning.
Most airlines belong to various alliances and partner program, some are great partnerships, others are not. For example, United partners with Lufthansa, Thai Air, Turkish and many more, so if you fly on these non-US based airlines you can transfer your miles to your United account.
Not All Miles Are Created Equally
While some airlines transfer 1:1 miles, many airlines take into account the relationship they have with their partner and booking class of the ticket. A booking class is a letter given to each fare purchased. If you are frugal economy flyer like me, your booking class are usually at the end of the alphabet around Y,W,X. If you fly a higher class or have a company that can afford to pay for your flights, your booking class will be higher. The more you pay for a flight, the more your miles are worth with other airlines.
A good strategy, have multiple frequent flier accounts with various US based and non-US based airlines. For example, I have the bulk of my miles with United, American and Singapore Air (for flights to Asia).
good strategy, have multiple frequent flier accounts with various US based and non-US based airlines.
Know Where To Transfer Your Miles
Since, it is quite difficult to know the best program to transfer your miles, someone has created a tool for this conundrum. Wheretocredit.com is a website that will do the conversions for you. Select the airline you are flying with and the booking class and it will spit out all available transfer partners and the rate they will credit your miles.
The $600 flight from Chicago to Zagreb, Croatia is on Lot Airlines. This is an airline I hardly fly and have no need to accrue miles with it. Once I found my fare class (click here to find your fare class on Orbitz or Priceline tickets), I entered it and the airline and it presented all my transfer options.
I have many choices, most of them are in the United Star Alliance but not all airlines are going to transfer the miles from Lot at parity. Since no airlines will give me 1:1 because my booking class is ‘W’, I should look for another one that presents the highest transfer on an airline I will fly in the near future. Ideally, I want 50% or higher. Egypt Air and TAP Portugal are the highest at 75% but there is no way I am traveling on Egypt Air in the next 2 years. I have a United account but the transfer rate is pitiful, only 25% (which my ticket doesn’t start with 016) or 5 miles per dollar spent, so $600 x 5 miles = 3,000 miles. Since I diversified my mileage accounts, there is a better option. Singapore Airlines is actually the best partner, at 50% transfer. I already have 55k miles sitting in that account which is 5k miles short of a RT flight from NYC to Thailand.
I Netted 5,160 Miles Instead of Nothing
The Croatia flight will net 10,370 miles, I used milecalc.com to estimate the number of miles flown. With the conversion, I can expect 5,160 to hit my Singapore account, [10,370 x 50% Singapore transfer = 5,160] which is better than the 3,000 miles United will give plus it gets me over the 60k threshold for a RT flight to Asia.
To get the credit, you either use your preferred flier number when you buy the ticket (I didn’t) or at the airport check-in. Just make sure the airlines are codeshare partners or in an alliance and you won’t have nay difficulties.
Airline Miles Are Changing
You might already know but many airlines are changing the way you earn frequent flier miles. In the good old days, you accrued miles based on the miles flown. That system is being replaced by a revenue based system. You pay $1,000 for a flight you earn 1,000 miles. United, Delta & American are all revenue based now.