If at any point during The Beginners Guide you have any questions, big or small, feel free to email me at FrequentFlyerUniversity@gmail.com. I typically respond within a couple of minutes.

Lesson 1: Where To Begin

As with starting any new endeavor, it is easy to get over excited and just start blindly applying for a bunch of Credit Card offers.

From answering tons of emails from Beginners, I have found that the number 1 mistake that Beginners make when collecting frequent flyer miles is that they either don’t know their usernames and passwords or even worse, they have let miles expire in the past.

I think most people know that frequent flyer miles are valuable, but at the same time they don’t treat miles as if they were an actual currency.

I can’t imagine anyone who has a bank account would neglect to check their balance for 2 years, so why do they do that with their frequent flyer accounts!?!?

The first thing I always ask when people email me with questions about how they can use frequent flyer miles to fly to a certain destination is, how many frequent flyer miles do you currently have and in what programs are they in?

9/10 times they don’t know!

Therefore even before picking a primary mileage program or Credit Card to earn frequent flyer miles with,

Tip 1 is to sign up for a free online points tracking service!

This advice extends to people who currently have no frequent flyer accounts!

Once you sign up for a points tracking service, enter all your frequent flyer accounts and passwords.

For many people, this will involve either registering their account numbers online, trying to remember their password, or even worse, having to figure out what their account number is. Although this is a huge pain in the butt, you will only have to do it once. After you have entered your information into your points tracking service, then you can use that to remember your account numbers and passwords in the future.

Once you have entered all your information, then you will be able to clearly see what all your balances are across all the different programs.

If you see you have 45,000 United miles and only 5,000 Delta miles, it would probably make more sense to focus on earning some United miles first, since you are technically closer to earning an Award Ticket with United.

This is the exact reason you don’t just want to go blindly applying for credit cards without knowing your current mileage situation!

Picking A Points Tracking Service:

As for picking a points tracking service, for the last few years I have exclusively used AwardWallet. There are other points tracking services out there like UsingMiles, whose CEO I met at StarMegaDO 3 in October.  I manage so many accounts with AwardWallet and really have never had any complaints about their product that I’ve exclusively used them for a couple of years now.

Personally, AwardWallet is my favorite points tracking service because:

  • Free (at least most of the features)
  • You can manage multiple people’s accounts all under one login. This is extremely useful if you have a family. (I mange 7 different family member’s accounts for a total of 60 separate loyalty programs)
  • Reminds you if miles are expiring

AwardWallet has really made my life so much more convenient. Before AwardWallet, I literally had an Excel sheet with all my usernames, password, current balances, and when the miles expired, which I all updated manually.

These days, I just log in, hit update, and within a couple of minutes I have an exact snapshot of all my mileage balances along with any changes in my balances.

Sign-Up:

If you aren’t signed up for AwardWallet, feel free to sign up below.

Link To Award Wallet

Please continue to Lesson 2 below.

Lesson 2

30 Comments

  • thomas says:

    glacier national park. had a house off flathead lake and it was amazing.

  • Jake says:

    Best vacation, hands down, Italy. Rome/Venice/Florence. Prettiest place I’ve ever seen is Cinque Terre off the coast.

  • alejandro says:

    Best vacation was probably Beppu, Japan. Went there with wife and took the train from Centrair to Hiroshima, visited the memorial, spent a night and then continued to Beppu. There are so many hot springs there that are good for your health. Plus the natural countryside and the delicious food!

  • Fred says:

    One of my best trips was my first visit to Amsterdam. I was so charmed by the city that I ended up living there for 6 months when the opportunity occurred.

  • Ian says:

    The best vacation I had was in Key West. They have these cool fairly priced Ocean Kayak trips which take you into the Mangroves and you get to see all kinds of wildlife. It helped I was there with my girlfriend, on Valentine’s Day, on the ocean at sunset too 😉

  • Ceide says:

    Dominica vs Turkey

  • Chris says:

    Cycled across Africa this past spring. 7,500 miles over 4 months. Not seeing Tanzania at least once in your lifetime would be doing yourself a huge disservice.

  • Trevor says:

    Best vacation (relaxation-wise) was Khao Lak, Thailand, about 50 miles north of Phuket. Its actually pretty nice in June, it is their monsoon season, but if you’re spending most of your time either in the pool or at the spa, its not a huge deal… we stayed at the JW Marriott Khao Lak, which they say has the longest swimming pool in SE Asia.

  • W. Thomas says:

    Best vacation was hiking in Patagonia in the very southern tip of Chile at Torres del Paine national park. Glaciers, penguins and incredible mountains. Google Torres del Paine and you’ll see!

  • dwh says:

    I don’t know about the best, but the wife and I just honeymooned in Madrid. We absolutely loved the city.

  • […] giveaway of 10 Premium Subscriptions to AwardWallet is still open until Sunday. If you have not already done […]

  • Yuko says:

    Thailand, stayed at the Racha resort, best hotel breakfast ever. There’s a motorboat to get you to the island, where they have a great spa, complimentary drink, and awesome local food on the island!

  • Joanne says:

    Backpacking in Jamaica with my then boyfriend and current husband.

  • Kevin Wong says:

    My travels have been mainly visiting family, so I would say Key West. It was a lot of fun being able to walk all over the place. My kids will say our next trip is their favorite….visiting Grandparents, Disneyland, and Legoland!

  • BothofUs2 says:

    Glacier Express train through Switzerland-Magnificent!

  • Molly says:

    One of my best vacations was this past spring.we traveled to Normandy to take a D Day tour (highly recommended-my husband’s father was a WW II pilot)and then to Paris where we were honored to be with our daughter and her boyfriend when he proposed at midnight at the Eiffel Tower.

  • Jason says:

    3 weeks in Italy, seeing Lake Como, Florence, Rome, Venice, and the Italian countryside, enjoying the sights and museums, and staying in little b&bs.

  • NewToForum says:

    Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Get away from the heat and city.

  • Edwin says:

    Bali. The island of gods.

  • Chase says:

    My favorite vacation was in New Zealand. Friendly people, beautiful landscapes, variety of things to do, and just a chill vibe. I love it!

  • BD says:

    Zanzibar in Tanzania! Beautiful beaches, amazing food, an incredible vacation!

  • Abhishek Duggal says:

    Won a trip to Spain via a contest on viator.com

    I had the time of my life!

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • sarah says:

    My wedding and honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta was one of my favorite vacations!

  • Jeff S says:

    Anywhere in the South Pacific… Cook Islands or the island of Tahaa in French Polynesia.

  • Michele says:

    It’s difficult to choose, but my best vacation was probably a month in Europe using Interrail and youth hostels after finishing school and before starting work. That’s the last time I traveled without nagging concerns about school or work!

  • Ed says:

    Best vacation ever was a backpacking trip in the New Mexico Rockies for 21 days! I’ll never forget it.

  • […] Lesson 1, I talked about the importance of signing up for a free mileage tracking service like AwardWallet. […]

  • Andreas says:

    My favorite vacation was backpacking in Cuba – such a beautiful island.

  • Steve says:

    We took an early June trip to Italy. Flew DL business First to Rome, 4 days at the Cavalieri Hilton (now WA), train to Florence, 2 days local 4*, train to Venence, 2 days at Hilton Molino Stucky, train to Vienna (straight up the backbone of Austria – beautiful day’s journey), 2 days at Hilton Vienna Plaza, return DL BF. All on DL SMs and HHonors exept train and Florence. Wonderful, relaxing trip.

  • Joe says:

    CHRIS:

    What was your route that you cycled? I would love to do something like that but am concerned about safety. Some high conflict areas boarder Tanzania.

    Thanks

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