What do I mean by maintaining a mileage balance… well, put simply, it’s just keeping a small stash of miles that you can use for spending at short notice. My miles balance mainly supports on the day airport upgrades. This partly goes against the earn & burn rule but can be useful if you are a very regular flier.
Earn miles without flying
The first thing you can do is earn as many miles as you can, which get automatically credited to your frequent flier account, without actually flying. Credit card spend, Train tickets, online shopping and a multitude of other activity can essentially earn ‘passive’ miles that help contribute to maintaining a balance of miles to spend when it suits you.
Make sure you log your miles
You might think this sounds silly… but I know so many people who do not check when their miles credit after transactions such as taking a flight. If you don’t check these miles have credited, you’re missing out on potential value and further depleting your stash if you are spending them as well.
Claim lost miles
Remember that most Airlines let you claim miles retroactively, so if you forgot to claim miles for a recent flight, it might not be too late! This may have happened because you forgot to put your frequent flier number on your booking, or the airlines system didn’t automatically credit. Either way, no matter who is to blame, make sure you claim what you are entitled to.
Track net mileage loss
What is net mileage loss?
Well, let’s use the following example:
You fly from London Heathrow to New York JFK and earn 11,062 miles for the roundtrip when all the different tier & cabin bonuses are calculated. Let’s say you upgrade from Premium to Business on one of the legs, so you spend 23,700 miles.
Your net mileage loss takes into account what you earned on the trip and is calculated as 11,062 – 23,700. So, a total loss of 12,638 miles.
Buy miles or boosters
To help in maintaining a mileage balance, you buy purchase miles from the airline, usually capped at a fixed amount per year or, a more popular option is to buy a miles booster. A miles booster allows you to purchase a fixed amount of miles (usually the base flown miles, or double the base flown miles) for a fairly attractive fee.
Using our previous example, if we purchased a booster for double the base flown miles, we would earn an additional 13,828 miles, thus entirely eliminating the loss and actually putting the trip into a slight positive mileage gain even including the upgrade.
When airlines run a miles booster bonus promotion, where you get an additional bonus on the miles booster, these tools become even more attractive.
TIP: You can often retroactively buy miles boosters for flights you’ve already taken for a fixed amount of time after the flight.
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