Win a trip to Australia!

Thanks to the generosity of American Express and Boarding Area, I am pleased to offer this contest to readers of Pearls of Travel Wisdom. You have an excellent chance to win a 7-day trip for two to Down Under. Total value of this contest is about $13,000.

To enter, simply post a comment here answering this question: What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points?

Increase your chances of winning by posting a comment on all of the 20 participating blogs. Each blog offers great content with a different perspective on travel, all worth a regular read. Keep an eye out for their posts about the contest.

Also, you can follow the blogs with an RSS feed. If you use Twitter, a great source to keep up to date on all the Boarding Area blogs is @BoardingArea and feel free to follow me on Twitter, @smartwomentrav.

Please hurry, the last day to enter is Sunday, March 28, 2010.

The contest is open to anyone who is a US resident at least 18 years old.  Very sorry, but this does not apply in Canada, US Territories, or the rest of the planet.

One lucky random winner will be chosen from all qualifying entries. Complete rules and details are here.

Again, many thanks to American Express and Boarding Area for offering this opportunity to my readers. Best of luck to each and every one of you winning what will be the trip of a lifetime!



  1. Sign up for every hotel rewards out there BUT pick the same airline for the bonus at each hotel. You can earn soooo many points every time you stay

  2. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines/rental car companies/hotels/credit cards/etc. partner with one another!). Save those miles for your dream first-class trip anywhere! Luxurious air travel is the best way to get the most out of your miles. 😀


  3. Pick an alliance, use it. Pay for everything with your miles card. Use any opportunity for double and triple miles offers. Use up the miles before the airline goes out of business.

  4. Focus on a few – preferably one loyalty programs – for flights and hotels and try to maximize the amount of points you can gain for these programs. Like George Clooney says in “Up in the air” – never spend a dime without trying to gain points for it. Taking advantage of the excellent resources on the web – like boarding area blogs that will help you find all the ways to earn those points. Then use ’em quickly and enjoy!

  5. Track your points, miles and your bank/credit accounts with Yodlee! Spend your miles smart by reading flyertalk and boardingarea blogs.

  6. Earn every chance you can and credit to as few programs as possible (consolidate). For example, credit flights to one airline program per alliance and when staying at a hotel outside your “preferred” hotel program(s), try to credit to an airline rather than holding just a couple of points in every program.

  7. sign up for every program. I sharply regret the stays and flights I made before enrolling thinking a one night stay here and there it was not worth it.

  8. I use my rewards card to pay for almost everything, and then have my wife book trips. It just works better that way.

  9. Obtain the credit card for your favorite airline. If you’re going to be spending money anyway you may as well get something for it. Also the program I use you can use mile to upgrade to first class on international flights. For example on a discount economy ticket from New York to Tokyo, which can run about $900 roundtrip, you can upgrade to first class for 60,000 miles and $1000 roundtrip. That same first class ticket would cost over $11000 and because you still earn miles for the flight that means it only costs you 45000 miles to save $9000.

  10. Read Boarding Area blogs – they boil down the fluff into the nitty gritty. Join Flyertalk and forge invaluable friendships with people who can help cover all the bases. They got my back!

  11. Don’t let your accumulated miles take on too much OR too little importance; use them as a tool that fits your personal circumstances. If you don’t often travel internationally, resist the urge to hoard miles for international vacations. If you need a quick, last-minute flight to visit an ailing relative or get to a job interview, use your miles! Put your miles to work for the things that matter to you.

  12. I tell my husband to buy lots of stuff on our rewards card and then I use the rewards for trips!

  13. My Tip:
    Finding award availability on the internet is not always easy – each airline website has its own quirks. Some don’t show partner award availability, some have a very poor search feature, and some don’t make it easy to look at multiple days at a time. I like for most Star Alliance availability, for OneWorld, and you have to work a combination of and to find SkyTeam awards. Each has its pluses and minuses. Sometimes you have to search segment by segment and piece together the whole trip. It can be frustrating, but assembling this information will be essential to finding the award you want.

    Once you have the data – and a few alternatives – pick up the phone and call an agent. You will pay a few extra dollars, but if you are looking for Business Class or First Class it will be well worth it. And, try not to overpay for awards: often times the easy way to find a seat is to pay extra miles for the “Flexible” awards but with patience and the right search tools you can usually do much better as long as you are flexible.

  14. Don’t ignore the hotel side of award trips. A one-week vacation will set you back just as much in hotels as airfare, so maximize your hotel stays. I like the Starwood American Express card because of the flexibility of the points, good award availability and options (eg. cash+points, redeem 4 nights and get 1 free), and the nice properties. And you can transfer the points to airlines if you want.


  15. To garner miles, put every possible necessary charge on a credit card and sign up for every offer that provides increased miles, such as double for groceries or drugstore purchases. Don’t be afraid to be the person who quarterback’s the end of group dinners by putting them on your card and receiving cash from others.

  16. Leave good instructions for your heirs on how to access your miles in all your accounts. You don’t want them to go to waste– rather, you want your kids to be able to use them should you die unexpectedly. Once the airline knows you’re gone, they will probably lock your miles.

  17. Try and sketch out your years travel at the start of the year. This lets you calculate your flight miles goal and predict when you’ll reach it. You can then estimate when you’re likely to reach your goal and look into other methods (hotels, car rentals etc) to speed things along.

  18. I had earned enough points to fly to England Business class once and was just about to book the flight and my mother if there was any chance she could come so instead I took my wife and I took my mother it was the first time she had seen her family in 52 years. I don’t think there is a better way to use your points than to do some thing wonderful for your mother

  19. One card/one airline. Pay for everything you can (groceries, gas, drugstore, dining, etc.) as much as possible with that card. And use the miles….don’t sit on them waiting for a bigger package deal. Life’s too short.

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