Frequent flyer miles are a rather recent invention. Many people will remember when they did not exist and airlines simply used ordinary ads to inform the public about special deals. Now, many travelers are well aware of airline miles cards and not only use them often, but will compare offers to see who offers more.
A program that offers free miles on a credit card can be very attractive. Once enough miles have been accumulated through purchasing flights and other merchandise on the card, the miles will enable the card owner to either get a free flight – or at least a discount on it. In many cases, other merchandise or services can also be obtained.
The Early Versions of Air Miles Programs
The first program that offered air miles to their customers was the Texas International Airlines, which was created in 1979. Their goal in creating the program was to keep track of their most loyal passengers and to ensure that they kept on using their airline.
American Airlines Miles Was Next
The American Airlines Miles program was started in 1981, and it offered the AAdvantage program. This company is one of the leaders in keeping track of its customers and has leading computer systems for it. When its frequent flyer program was initiated, it wanted to help customers as much as possible, so it included Hertz and the Hyatt hotels.
American Airlines started out by using computer search programs to discover who its most loyal customers were so it could offer the program to them. It found the top 150,000 people who flew the most and put them into it.
The Advantage Miles card today offers many ways to use air miles on their card. The catalog from the Advantage Miles program offers products from over 850 stores, and miles can be used to purchase them.
The First Competitor – United
Just a few days after American Airlines made its program public, United Airlines revealed its United Mileage Plus Miles program. It was not to be outdone by a competitor and saw the advantage of such a program immediately. Its United Mileage Plus Miles program offered its users a bonus of 5,000 air miles as soon as they enrolled.
Delta Skymiles Appears and TWA Offer Its Programs
Later that same year, two more airlines saw the benefits of using an air miles program. Of course, by this time, they had no doubt already lost many potential customers to American and United. Delta offered its Delta SkyMiles card, and TWA presents its card.
Hotels Enter the Arena
After seeing how other hotels benefited by being connected with the airlines frequent flyer programs, various hotels start offering their own cards. They seek out airlines to get connected with, or simply offer air miles that can be used to purchase tickets at the major airlines ticket offices. Their programs also offer free stays at their chains.
Rental Car Companies Offer Their Version of the Program
Other car rental companies soon created their own version of the free rental after they saw that Hertz benefited from their connection with American Airlines. Hertz had dropped out of the connection, but was hurt so bad by ending the relationship, that it was soon restored. Hertz is now affiliated with in excess of 60 frequent flyer programs offered by airlines throughout the world.
Advantages of Frequent Flyer Mileage Programs
There are now a number of ways that air miles can be earned on some cards. This enables earning points faster, as well as having a wider variety of places to use them, and not just for flights.
How to Choose an Air Miles Card
The competition between airline companies is strong, with each trying to outdo another whenever it offers a new air miles card. While some frequent flyers cards offered by airlines will only offer miles that can be used on their airline, bank cards and credit card companies will often offer air miles that can be used on many airlines and hotels.
When looking for an airline miles card, be sure to compare them with a few other ones. Look for benefits that you can really use, including air miles that might give you a free flight soon, without having to wait a year or more to use. Also, make sure that that particular airline is located at an airport near you, too.
Watch out for air miles that expire. Many cards have frequent flyer miles that do not have an expiration date on them, and no limits on how many miles you can accumulate.