Airmiles and frequent flier points
Lately I have become a little obsessive with Airmiles. I now have 1500 of them earned since December which is enough to get a free flight to most central European cities, or two (750 each) free flights to Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and various parts of Scotland (interestingly enough including Lerwick in the Shetland Islands)
I would need about 5000 to fly to Tel Aviv or New York from London, or 10,000 to get to Auckland or Alaska, so at the moment its not that useful for my current travels plans currently, but for any people doing charity work overseas or for people with needing gratis bonus holiday it can be a nice treat.
Catches. The ticket is free including all taxes and charges, and you are flying with a “grown up” airline (usually British Airways who own Airmiles) so meals and drinks are included, although maybe not if you flight its brief one (ie: Heathrow to Amsterdam you don’t get food as its only 1 hour 10 minutes if I remember correctly) But the catch is you have to buy at least one nights stay in one of their recommended hotels. I haven’t checked to see what this or if this comes at a premium, but as Airmiles the company has been around since 1986, if this was really a devious trick the company wouldn’t be around now. Also as far as I know they don’t get fussy about what time you can or cant fly as long as long as all the seats on the plane aren’t all booked out. Points cant be sold or given to anyone else. One last thing, the points don’t have a expiry date but if you don’t accrue any points at all in a 12 month time period they will charge you £30 when you eventually get to book.
Airmiles isn’t a frequent flier scheme, its purely an loyalty scheme to earn a little bit each time to your holiday, the great thing is I can earn incentives from buying things that I would of otherwise have bought anyway. I have converted most of my Tesco points to them, some from fuel (Shell points) for my longish drive to work, also from Scottish and Southern Electric, and buying things through popular online retailers such as ebay, CD wow and Play.com. All of these businesses I am already a customer before I signed up for Airmiles. Although I have got a Lloyds TSB credit card which earns me 1 mile/£10 spend so combined these can rack up the points a bit sooner, I also got an invite to fill in some simple questionnaires online by a partnership organisation which the points accrued there can be traded for Airmiles.
A good tip to get the extra Tesco points is to take your aluminium drinks cans to the bigger stores where they get crushed and recycled and the points added by the computer operated machine in the car park, ask your work place if you can take home spent inkjet cartridges (you can get 100 Tesco points each for most HP ones, and their T&Cs say you can send in up to 30 a year, so once they are converted to Airmiles, 30x cartridges is nearly enough for a free return flight to France) and to also take your carrier bags to avoid taking new ones.
Don’t forget to earn the miles from each of the respective partner companies, you must log into your Airmiles account on their site then click on the link to take you to the respective retailer (ie CD Wow) to get the points. I didn’t do this when I originally got my Lloyds TSB credit card and when I phoned up to ask if they could add the miles, they said they wouldn’t do it.
On advice of a web site I applied for a BMI American express card to get the 20,000 (will get you as far as Istanbul or Moscow) miles on this. This only needed a £250 spend (couple of months of fuel and grocery shopping easily took care of this) I cancelled the card afterwards as lots of stores don’t take Amex so its not that useful.
This was not as good as it seems you still have to pay taxes and charges but not under any obligation to buy any other services. In reality the ‘free’ flight is actually a third off the usual price of the ticket as the taxes and charges make up the other two thirds. Still this is useful to have this when I plan to fly at somepoint.
I earned a little (500 miles) when I paid the £293 for my ticket from Heathrow to Tel Aviv. I don’t think I get really anything for these though.
I may try the Easyjet or Flybe credit cards, as I am going to Ireland and Spain for a birthday and a wedding in 2010….