Easiest Tutorial for Airline Miles with Examples (1)

Airline miles are part of loyalty program offered by airline companies. Typically passengers earn airline miles based on distance traveled in flight. When sufficient miles have been accumulated, they can redeemed as FREE FLIGHT TICKET.

Airline companies has expanded their loyalty programs so there are many other ways to get miles and to spend miles. In this article, we’ll explain:

  1. Ways to earn miles (roughly)
  2. Ways to spend miles (roughly)
  3. A detailed practical example showing how to get a FREE international ticket with little effort.


Ways to Earn Miles

There are many ways to earn miles. It’s totally fine if you don’t fully understand how the below methods work as of now. Knowing there are many ways itself is good enough for this tutorial — you may always learn more from future tutorials or read [Earn Miles] catogory.

  1. Take flight. When you fly, you have the privilege to earn miles (exception is that your ticket is award ticket). You may provide your miles account number when purchasing ticket (recommended) or claim miles after the trip. Either way please remember to do it, otherwise you lost these valuable miles.
  2. Apply for credit card that has airline miles as sign-on bonus. This way usually earn you most miles, and will be used in the example coming next part of the topic.
  3. Spending. These above credit cards usually also earn you miles when you put spending on them.
  4. Use shopping portals when you shop online. Most major airlines have an online shopping portal, allowing you to earn miles for your purchases, without paying more.
  5. Online survey can earns you miles. Examples are  Emiles or eRewards.
  6. Join dining programs. Dining program earns you miles when you eat out at participating restaurant.
  7. Others.


Ways to Use Miles

Similar to earn miles, there are many ways to use miles. It’s totally fine if you don’t fully understand how the below methods work as of now.

  1. Book a flight. It is the most obvious way to use miles. There’re lot of things to talk about but let’s just keep it simple now.
  2. Upgrade a flight.
  3. Reserve a hotel or rent a car.
  4. Shop with miles.
  5. Donate to charity.


A Practical Example

Now let’s go through a practical example:


1) Sign up miles account

First of all, you should open up account.  Which airline? It’s a good question. Pick the one that matches your travel preference.  For example if you live in or near a city which is hub of a particular airline, you may consider it.  In our example, we’ll use a popular airline — United.

To sign up, visit www.united.com and click “Sign in or join”, and then “Not a member? Join now” as below.

Follow the page and fill out the form, to get a United MileagePlus account number.  Save account number, password, security question and answers for future use.


2) Earn miles through credit card sign on bonus

Among credit cards with big sign on bonus, http://ccbonus.com/united-mileageplus-explorer-card/ is the one that earns United MileagePlus miles.  Apply for the card if (and only if):

  1. you have great credit history.
  2. you don’t have 4 or more credit cards from Chase.
  3. you haven’t taken the offer before (if you do, more research is needed to make sure your eligibility)
  4. make sure the offer is still active as following. Take you own screen shot when applying.
  5. provide United MileagePlus account number.

After approval and receiving of credit card, meet spending requirement ASAP.  This article provides some great idea of it. Usually miles will show up in you United MileagePlus account when credit card statement is available in which spending requirement is met.


3) Book an international flight using miles

After login United.com, Click menu “MileagePlus” and then “Book with award miles”, as show below:

The page will ask for trip information. In this example departure city is LAX (Los Angeles, CA) and arrival is PVG (Shanghai, China), on July 19th, 2017.  As shown below, cost is 35K miles (plus $5.60 tax).

Select it and complete the booking by providing passenger info and paying tax.  An free international ticket is then yours to enjoy; and you still have 15K miles in your account toward future use.  For your information, the exact same trip costs $644 if pay by cash.


This concludes our miles tutorial (1) and example of free international flight. In next tutorial we’ll explain in detail another ways to earn miles with an example of free international BUSINESS CLASS flight.