The rules of the points game is constantly evolving, especially when airline loyalty programs have significant changes to their earning and reward structures. I have always talked about diversification. So today, I will explain how I have structured my airline points’ portfolio.
My portfolio can be classified by airline alliances and non-airline alliances. My strategy is to earn points with at least one major airline per alliance so that I can cover all my bases. This way, whenever I need to pay for a flight, I can just go for the cheapest flight and bank the points in the appropriate airline. Once I earn enough points on one of the program, I will have my reward flight.
Southwest Airlines (Rapid Rewards) – Whenever I fly from one U.S. city to another, I go with Southwest Airlines. The main reason is because they do not charge fees for the first 2 checked bags. Southwest airline tickets are also reasonably priced and I enjoy the service that they offer. We need to keep our accounts active once every 24 months.
American Airlines (AAdvantage) – I flew on American Airlines one time and since then, I have worked hard to keep my account active. The main source of points I earn is from E-Rewards. Otherwise, I have transferred hotel points whenever there is a bonus promotion. I plan on continually racking up the points until I have enough for a reward flight. We need to keep our accounts active once every 18 months, but it has been very easy with E-Rewards.
British Airways (Executive Club Avios) – There are so many different ways for Canadians to earn Avios points, namely: the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite credit card, as well as transferring American Express Membership Rewards or RBC Rewards / Avion points to Avios. We need to keep our accounts active once every 36 months, which has not been a problem for me because I have been transferring my E-Reward dollars whenever I need to.
Delta Air Lines (SkyMiles) – These points never expire, even without activity, so that makes it a no-brainer as my main airline for the Skyteam alliance.
Air Canada (Aeroplan) – This is a no-brainer as a Canadian. The main reason is because there are so many different ways to earn Aeroplan points in Canada, especially through credit card sign up bonuses. I also earn Aeroplan points by filing up gas at Esso and doing AskingCanadians surveys. I generally use my Aeroplan points on Star Alliance partners who have lower tax and fuel surcharges to maximize my rewards.
If we are not a frequent flyer, earning points can be a long term project, so it does take some effort. For me, I plan to travel for a long time, so earning points today for a flight 2-3 years down the line works for me.
As always, do the calculations to see what makes the most sense for you.