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Interested in Joining an Airlines Reward Program? Top Ones to Consider

What is the best airline rewards program today? Well, that really depends on who you are and what you want out of your rewards program. Choosing the one that matches your lifestyle can help you to feel satisfied with what you get. When you choose a program, you want to consider a few different things, including how easy it is to get a flight, flight options, any additional perks, and “the fine print.”

Here are our choices:

American Airlines

The largest, and arguably most popular, frequent flyer program belongs to American Airlines. They fly to over 1,000 destinations, making them a great choice no matter where you need to fly, domestic or abroad. With an easy to understand system, it is a great way to get introduced to the world of airline rewards programs.

Of course, you should still shop around and be sure you pay attention to the different times of the year when better deals may be offered. You will have to pay taxes and fees, but everything is clearly listed before you book. And the best way to earn American Airlines rewards is to use one of a few different credit cards.

Delta SkyMiles

With hubs in some of the biggest and best cities in the US, Delta has a great program. It  may feel like it takes a degree in hieroglyphics to really be able to read their rewards chart, but it is easy enough once you have had some practice. Note that Delta’s online search engine is tricky as well, but their customer service center is extremely helpful and they will walk you through the process.

You can earn bonus points with SkyMiles by signing up for their program and getting the Gold Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. You will have to spend $1,000 within 90 days of opening the account, but that is enough to get a domestic flight.

Southwest Airlines

Few companies compare to Southwest Airlines if you want a free or nearly free flight, and it is one of the easiest companies to redeem your points with. They base their system on the cost of the tickets, meaning cheaper tickets will cost fewer miles. They also have no blackout dates, which is great for people who want to save up to go home for holidays.

Note that the fares on Southwest do tend to vary from day to day, so you will want to check constantly and shop around. You will also have to pay taxes and fees, though they aren’t as much on domestic flights.


Credit Card Rewards, Do You Have to Pay Taxes on Them?

One common question that often comes up for credit card reward programs is if you have to pay taxes on the rewards you earn. Per the IRS, you may have to report your credit card rewards if they are the type that have been deemed ‘taxable income.’ For many cards, this won’t be the case because the IRS sees your cash-back programs and rewards as discounts, not income. However, if you got a large sign-on bonus for your card, you might have to report that as extra income.

If you use your credit card for your business, you will have to keep even better records. Any and all rebates have to be subtracted from how much is paid so that you lessen the amount that you deduct from your taxes. It means that your taxable income doesn’t increase, but your burden will because you didn’t pay the full price.

There are some types of credit card rewards that you don’t have to count as income as well, including cash-back programs, travel points, purchases made with points, and sign-on bonuses that you get after you’ve spent a certain amount of money. If you are not required to spend any money to get those rewards, however, you will have to use a 1099-MISC tax form. You will probably receive the form from the credit card company with your bonus. Sometimes the state won’t report this income to the IRS, however, and you will have to do it. Each state is different and tax laws frequently change. Note that you don’t have to actually receive any money in order to report to your taxes. Anything that is provided to you without having to make a purchase, whether it is points, gift cards, or something else, is considered taxable income. If you have questions about whether or not you have to pay, the credit card company might not be the best resource for you to go to. Instead, you should ask a tax professional.

If you are confused, and many people will be as states and companies crack down on this even more, you can always contact a professional. Don’t ignore your 1099-MISC form, even if you think your income doesn’t qualify. The IRS is always watching and they are getting better and better at tracking income from any and all of these sources. You don’t want to have to pay a tax penalty because you ignored a piece of mail you got or because you didn’t think your income counted.

When is a Rewards Credit Card Really Worth It?

A lot of people like credit cards because they get freebies, they can build their credit, and they are promised everything under the sun. You can get free flights, free hotel stays, and discounts at your favorite stores. However, sometimes you have to spend a lot of money just to get these perks. With most credit cards, you have to spend more than just a few dollars to get the rewards or they are meaningless.

When you should sign up for a credit card:

1. When you get a discount on purchases because of cash back.

If you do not want the flights or the hotels, you can still get a lot of value from credit card rewards. Some cards will offer you as much as 2% cash back. Depending on the card, sometimes you can get 5% cash back on a variety of purchases. If these higher cash back amounts are on something that you like to purchase or need to purchase anyway, it is well worth it to get that credit card.

2. When you need airline miles

If you fly often or want to take a specific trip, you should look into the dollar to mile exchange rate. Look for cards that offer one mile for each dollar spent, or credit cards that offer you a huge sign-up bonus that you know you qualify for and  can meet the spending minimum. Note that this only works for a credit card you intend to use and pay off frequently; otherwise you will be spending thousands of dollars on a plane ticket that could have only cost you hundreds. Another great thing about earning miles is that if you don’t get to travel, you can sell your miles for cash or redeem them for other rewards.

3. When You are Smart About Redeeming Rewards

Many people just try to gain rewards as quickly as they can, but that is not always the best approach. The secret is to find the best way to redeem them. Sometimes companies will allow participants to redeem them for a penny or less toward gift certificates or other merchandise. But if you are really looking for deals, sometimes you can find them on last minute travel deals.

4. When You Treat Credit Cards Like Cash

Many people do not really think about their credit card being like cash, but it really is. You should never use a credit card in place of cash, but simply use it because it is convenient. Think about your purchases before you make them, or you could be in for a world of trouble. Many people use their credit cards without keeping track and end up spending more than they can afford to pay off.

When it comes to deciding if a rewards credit is right for you, these are just some things to think about. If you decide to get one, make sure you read the fineprint to make sure the one you decide on is the right fit for your needs.

Flying to Hawaii for Free and Why to Consider Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airline MilesHawaii is a dream trip for so many people. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, with fantastic beaches, great culture, and quite a bit of history. However, it is an impossible trip for many people who do not have the money saved up to fly there — unless they can fly for free.

The first thing you need to do is find the airline you want to fly. There are many that fly from the continental United States to Hawaii, including Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, United, and US Airways. However, if you are going to do Hawaii, the way to get there is Hawaiian Airlines.

Get Free Flights

The first thing you have to do is join American Express’ Membership Rewards, Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, and/or Starwood Preferred Guest. You will get points that you can then transfer directly to Hawaiian Airlines to make your reservation.

You will need about 40,000 miles to get a single round-trip economy ticket from the United States to Hawaii. If you want to go economy, you will have to use 75,000 miles per ticket. Note that there is a small amount of you will have to pay out of pocket, ranging from $2.50 to $85.

Why Hawaiian Airlines Might be the Best Airline for your Flight to Hawaii

On Time: You want to pick an airlines that will be on time. Being booked on a flight that is delayed will put a serious damper on your vacation from the start. Hawaiian Airlines is on time 93.3% of the time — those are some pretty good odds.

Flexibility: If you want, you can just book a one-way ticket so that you can at least lessen the amount of money you spend. You can even break it up so that you can have a bit of a break, taking Hawaiian Airlines from somewhere closer and giving you some rest time. Remember that Hawaii is one of the most popular redemptions, so you should be flexible.

No matter what, your vacation to Hawaii should be one of the greatest things you ever do. You want to go with an airline that will allow you to save some money, but will still allow you to enjoy yourself, ride in comfort, and lengthen your vacation.

If you are looking to use your Hawaiian Miles for your next trip to paradise but don’t have enough for a free flight, we can help. We make the process of buying Hawaiian Miles simple while offering great rates. Learn more about how the process works.

Transferring Points to Airline Miles, Credit Cards You Might Want to Consider

Airline frequent flier programs have their ups and downs, good and bad. Sometimes one offers great prices and then all of a sudden they are awful again. A great thing to do is get a credit card that will allow you to rack up airline miles without committing to a certain airline — that is, until you are ready to go.

Here are the top credit cards you can do this with:

American Express EveryDay Card

If you are looking for a card without a fee, the Amex EveryDay Credit Card is a great option. It still works with 17 different airline partners with most having a 1:1 transfer ratio. You earn one point per dollar spent and double points at US supermarkets. If you make a minimum of 20 purchases in a statement period, you get an extra 20 percent bonus. If you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of signing up, you get a bonus 10,000 points.

Chase Sapphire

The Chase Ultimate Rewards Card works with airline partners that include Southwest, United, Korean Airways, British Airways, Delta, and American Airlines as well as four hotel programs. With this card there is an annual after the first year.

When traveling, you earn 2x the points as well as when you dine at restaurants and you get 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. Also when you spend $4,000 during the first three months of signing up, you get an extra 50,000 points.

Hilton Honors Card

Another card without an annual fee is the American Express Hilton Honors Card. They too partner with a majority of the major airlines, though the transfer rate is 10:1. For that high of a ratio, however, you earn 7 times the points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels across the globe; 5 times the points at gas stations, restaurants and supermarkets; and 3 times the points for other purchases. Until the end of next month, if you make $2,000 in purchases in the first three months of signing up for this card, you get 80,000 bonus points.

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card

With it partnering with a majority of the major airlines with many of them offering a 1:1 conversion, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is a favorite amongst travelers. While for the first year you don’t have to pay an annual fee, for the second you will need to begin paying $95 per year. The card earns 2 points per dollar spent at Marriott Rewards hotels and SPG as well as 1 point on eligible purchases for every dollar spent. After you spend 3,000 in the first 3 months of signing up, you get an extra 25,000 points. Points from this card may be redeemed for flights on more than 150 airlines, and transferred to miles for 35 frequent flyer programs at 1:1 for most airlines.

Breaking Down the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Virgin AtlanticFor the last few years, the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club program has not always been considered the “best of the best” in terms of rewards, though they do get recommendations for their premium economy class from travel related magazines. There have been some changes recently to go with the changing business model, but these changes have significantly improved what was already great.

Before with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, you wouldn’t earn as many miles if you flew a lower fare class, but now you can earn the full amount of miles on all tickets with lower fuel surcharges.

Using Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles

But note, that while there are award flights that cost significantly less than others, there are higher surcharges. You will have to determine which is more important to you.

This rewards program does still focus on transatlantic business and those people who are willing to spend more money for a high quality experience. You may not need as many miles to get the flight depending on your travel dates, but you will have to pay a fee between $350 and $500.

Some of the other program perks include mixed cabin awards, miles have a three year shelf life, a 10% discount on Virgin holidays, a 5% parking discounts, and more. Note that there is a cancellation/change fee of $50, a Saturday night stay is required for miles plus money fares, and charges for miles plus money fares do not earn miles.

You can upgrade fares in economy class to premium economy, which is something to consider taking advantage of. You can upgrade premium economy classes S and W to upper class, and economy fares can be upgraded to upper class for 2x the miles. 

Levels and Perks

Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club levels are Red, Silver, and Gold. Members receive various exclusive offers and promotions, including:

  • Silver members: earn miles on flights and extra mileage bonuses of 50%; get premium economy check-in regardless of ticket class; and get priority waitlisting.
  • Gold members: Earn miles on flights and extra mileage bonuses of 100%; access to the Clubhouse and Revival’s Lounge; and use of upper class check-in regardless of ticket class.

Credit Card Options

Two Virgin Atlantic credit cards are available to US members through Bank of America: the VA Black Card and the VA White Card. Both are chipped for use abroad and earn three miles per dollar on Virgin Atlantic charges.

The White Card receives one mile per dollar on non-VA purchases, a 12,500 bonus miles initial purchase, and up to 7,500 miles on your anniversary.

The Black Card offers more rewards, including 1.5 miles per dollar on non-VA purchases, 20,000 bonus miles after initial purchase, and 15,000 miles on your anniversary.

Another option to get the miles you need for a flight on Virgin Atlantic is by buying miles online. If you would like more info on how you can do this, learn more about our services and how we can help you.

Best Ways to Earn and Use Hawaiian Airlines Miles

Hawaiian Airline MilesThe airline miles program at Hawaiian Airlines does not get a lot of attention, but that does not mean it is not great. In fact, for someone who goes to Hawaii or travels between the Hawaiian islands relatively frequently, it can be one of the best programs to sign up for.

Hawaiian Award Chart

The HawaiianMiles award chart has three different levels for coach and two levels for first class. For coach, you can be a SuperSaver, a Saver, or a Flex Saver. In first class, you can only be a Flex or a Saver.

With HawaiianMiles, a round trip would cost 40,000 miles while the same flights on Delta, United, and American costs 45,000. However, there a cheaper ways. One popular method is to use British Airways Avios with roundtrip awards, which is only 25,000 Avios if both legs are direct.

Hawaiian Airlines Credit Card from Barclaycard

You can also earn miles when you sign up for the Hawaiian Airlines credit card, which comes with a standard sign-up bonus of 35,000 miles if you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. It does have an annual $89 fee, but there are many benefits for signing up including:

  • One-time 50% discount for a companion on a trip between Hawaii and North America;
  • Complimentary checked bag when you use your card;
  • $100 discount on companion ticket once per year;
  • 5,000 mile bonus for spending $10,000 per year;
  • Access to reduced mileage awards.

The discounted award is extremely useful because it is enough to get you from the mainland to Hawaii. If you take advantage of all the card has to offer, you should be able to get quite a bit.

HawaiianMiles Marketplace

You can also earn HawaiianMiles very easily through the Marketplace. And purchases can be made using any Visa or AmEx card, meaning that it does not have to be a Hawaiian Airlines card. The Registered Card Offer is for purchases made in specific store locations rather than the Online Mall.


HawaiianMiles is a transfer partner of American Express and SPG Starwood points. The standard transfer ratio is 1:1, but there are bonuses you should keep in mind. There is sometimes a schedule but other times there are random promotions. Pay special attention around the holiday season and at the start of the summer months, because that is when you will find the best deals.

Looking for a simple way to buy Hawaiian Airline miles online? Learn more about buying miles with The Miles Broker.

Guide to Booking and Using ANA Mileage Club Awards

All Nippon Airlines, better known as ANA, is the second largest airline in Japan and is one of the highest rated and most beloved airlines in the world. The praise comes from industry officials and passengers alike.

They also have a large frequent flyer program that recently underwent some massive changes, completely switching how they award points. Some of the great deals were eliminated in this change, but there are quite a few new things to make up for it.

Still, the new program is a little difficult to understand at first. There are two standard redemption charts: one for their own flights and another for partners. One of these partner airlines is Star Alliance, the biggest airline in the world.

When Should I Use ANA Mileage Club Awards?

There are some great redemptions available from ANA, including these that help you get the most out of your Mileage Club:

  • Flights from the US to Japan are only $180 (in fees and fuel surcharge) and only 40,000 miles in economy and 75,000 in businesses class.
  • During the slow season, round trips to Asian countries are 45,000 miles in economy and 80,000 miles in business class, with a $61 fuel surcharge.
  • Flying on partner LOT Polish Airlines to Europe is a surcharge of $120 plus 88,000 miles.
  • Some trips, like those to Brazil, Chile, or Argentina, which are 80,000 miles, have no fuel surcharges.

All Flights will have the same surcharge, regardless of class.

Online Airline Partners:

  • Adria 
  • Aegean 
  • Air Canada
  • Air China
  • Air India
  • Air New Zealand
  • Asiana 
  • Austrian
  • Avianca
  • Brussels 
  • Copa 
  • Croatia 
  • EgyptAir
  • Ethiopian 
  • EVA Air
  • LOT Polish 
  • Lufthansa
  • Scandinavian 
  • Shenzhen 
  • Singapore 
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • Turkish 
  • United

Airlines that Allow you to Book by Phone:

  • Air Dolomiti
  • Air Macau
  • Etihad Airways
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Germanwings
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways
  • Philippine Airlines
  • TAM Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Searching and Booking ANA Mileage Club Award Flights Online

You have to be a Mileage Club member, but you don’t have to have miles. Here are the steps to get the best service:

  1. Click on “Members Service.”
  2. Choose “Awards Redemption” and then “Award Reservation.”
  3. Type in whatever flight you want, then click “search.”
  4. The next screen should display a week of flights, including those around it. Choose the best dates.
  5. Click “next.”
  6. If you want to book a higher class, go to “Other Classes/Itineraries.”
  7. Fill out relevant fields and search.
  8. Pick outbound flight, hit “next.”
  9. Repeat for inbound flight.
  10. Confirm your fees, information about the flight and other pertinent information.

If you are looking to use your ANA miles to book a future trip but are a little short, easily buy mile with The Miles Broker. The process is simple and we offer great rates.

Guide to British Airways Avios

British Airways and the Executive Club program is one of the best flying programs you can be a member of. It allows you to earn Avios (or miles) that you can then turn in for free flights, reduced rates, or upgrades.

How Do I Join the Executive Club?

You first have to get yourself a BA Executive Club card, which you can easily do via the website. Once you are a member, you can start earning Avios and Tier Points.

What are Avios?

Avios are the miles that make up the currency that you can use for tickets, upgrades, or specials. These are extremely valuable. You earn them every time you fly based on the class you use. If you have a certain status, like Bronze, Silver, or Gold, you may get additional miles.

You have to check to see how many you will earn with each class. Sometimes it pays to buy your own ticket and then use Avios toward an upgrade. This is a good option when fares are really high. It does not matter which class you book, you can always upgrade one level up. For example, if you buy economy, then you can upgrade to a premium economy seat. If you started with a premium economy seat, you can upgrade to business class. If you started with business class, you can upgrade to first class.

What Are Tier Points?

Tier points are a way to track your status within the program. There are four tiers that correspond with how many Avios you have already earned:

Blue: No real benefits

Bronze: You have to earn 300 points in a year, and you get to check-in to business class and priority boarding.

Silver: You have to earn 600 tier points in a year, and you get priority boarding, lounge access, and extra luggage for you and a guest. You can get a choice seat as well.

Gold: You have to earn 1500 tier points in a year, and you get priority boarding, check-in, extra luggage, more reward seats, and pre-selection of seats.

You have to be creative about how you advance throughout the different levels, but it is easy if you travel quite a bit. You will have to pay attention to things like dates and deadlines so that you can get to the level you want.

However if you meet a tier, it is only valid for the rest of the calendar year.


If you have another family member who travels often, you may combine your points to get a household account. You can pool your points together to earn better rewards and upgrades.

American Express

If you want to earn even more points, you can sign up for the American Express card. It will also give you more opportunities to upgrade your account quickly. There are two different options: the BA Amex, which has no annual fee, and a British Airways Premium Plus Card that costs nothing the first year but has a fee for the following years. Once again, you will have to pay attention to the fine print to see which is best for you.

Earning British Airways Avios Miles for free trips and for rewards is easy. If you need a little boost and are looking to buy Avios Miles for your next trip, we can help!


American Express Green Card: Yay or Nay?

One of the better reward credit cards to consider in 2017 is the American Express Green Card. They are currently offering 25,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. On top of that, you get 2x the points on each dollar spent on the American Express Travel Website and 1x the points on every purchase after that. Once you get enough points, you can use them with more than 500 leading brands. There are many different options to choose from, including travel, gift cards, entertainment, frequent flyer miles, and merchandise. You can work right within the American Express system to get some of their best rewards. They have relationships with many travel companies, making it one of the top choices amongst people who travel for work or pleasure.

For people who travel a lot, there are other protections as well, including roadside assistance, insurance for car rentals, and baggage protection. There is an annual fee of $95, but that is waived for the first year.

In order to get the Green Card 25,000 Bonus Points promotion, you have to follow a set of instructions very carefully:

  1. Go into incognito mode on your browser. Copy and paste the bonus link and hit enter. Link:
  2. If you don’t see the bonus points, repeat step 1. You may have to do this over a dozen times to get the promotion, but it will be worth it.
  3. If you still don’t get the bonus, try it in another browser (suggested browsers include Chrome, Internet Explorer, or Firefox.) You may have to repeat the steps again in that browser.
  4. If that doesn’t work, you may have to use another computer.

This may seem complicated, but it isn’t that difficult to do and at the end of the day it is worth doing to get the bonus points.

This might just be one of the best promotions yet for the American Express Green Card. Spending $1,000 in the first three months shouldn’t be that difficult – it is actually harder to actually get the promotion on the website.

If you like to travel, there are no better offers because of the high amount of miles and perks you can get just for having the card. Remember that you do have to pay the card off and after the first year, there is an annual fee, however. You also don’t get as many rewards points back once the first 25,000 points, but they may make up for it.