Change Your Altitude



Getting Started

Getting Started

The points and miles game is a crazy one – there are lots of ways to make the most of the decisions you make when you plan travel. Here are some tips to help you get started:


1. Choose (and stick to) an airline alliance/airline loyalty program

Based on where you travel to, you’ll want to align with an airline alliance – it’s a simple fact of life. An alliance is a group of airlines that allow program members to earn miles when flying on carriers within the network. Elite members are also eligible to receive reciprocal benefits when flying partner airlines. The main three alliances are:

Do know that when you select an alliance, you will have to select an airline to bank your points at.  As long as you fly a carrier that is part of your choice alliance, you can earn points on your selected airline (granted, the amount of points earned can vary based on fare class).

Each alliance has its pros and cons, but you’ll want to pick one airline within an alliance and stick with it in order to maximize earning points towards status (read: perks) and free flights.

If you travel often enough (200k-300k+ miles per year), you can (and should!) consider straddling multiple alliances, since you will likely hit top tier status across all of them. This way, you can choose to fly the best airline for your route, maximize points earning potential and grant you access to more benefits across more airlines.

Whichever method you choose, pick an alliance with an airline based in your home city or one that is close to it. 

There are some (fantastic) airlines that are not aligned with any alliance – and they frequently have airline partners on which you can earn and redeem points. These are definitely worth considering if you live in one of these hub cities.

Not sure which is right for you? Read on for tips on picking the best airline for you.


2. Pick a hotel group:

There are more hotel groups than airline alliances, and it can get intimidating (and in practice, tough) to pick one.

Here are some of the larger hotel groups:

As with airlines, each group will have areas to their program that are stronger than others, but the group that works best for you will likely be driven by where you tend to travel to the most and personal preference.


3. Sign up for travel credit cards

There are plenty of credit cards out there that offer travel benefits, but not all are created equal. Below are some of our favorites that give you the best perks and return on your travel-related spend:

Definitely note that the ones above come with an annual fee, but if you travel often, the perks often outweigh the cost. Given where you’re based, one might suit you more than the other, so read out the fine print before signing up. But the concept remains the same: sign up, at least for one.

Need help deciding? Take a gander at our lists of credit cards with great returns for travel.


4. Rent cars

Most major car rental companies allow you to earn points within their loyalty program (which are typically less rewarding than airline and hotel programs), and in some cases, also earn airline points at the same time. Some airline partners require the renter to be ticketed on a flight within 24 hours of the rental – however – this is not always the case. See below for loyalty programs and airline partnerships:

Always keep in mind that airline partnerships with car rental companies are directly tied to where you’re headed to – so definitely research beforehand because many deals and mileage accrual opportunities in this realm can be destination specific!


5. Shop online through credit card or airline-affiliated shopping portals

Several airlines, hotels, or credit cards have click-through shopping portals (similar to ebates), where you can earn points every time you shop online – but you must access the shop website through the shopping portal. Depending on the online store, you can earn anywhere from 1-10 points (or more!) per dollar you spend. Some popular shopping portals include:

Each shopping portal may have different rates for the same shop, so if you have accounts across many of these loyalty programs, you might want to check evreward.

The website will search across all the shopping portal websites and return the number of points you could earn for each loyalty program.

EVReward Screenshot


6. Eat out 

Several airlines and hotel groups have dining portals, where you sign up with your loyalty membership number and register your credit cards. Every time you eat out at any participating restaurant and pay with a linked credit card, you’ll automatically earn points.

One thing to note – these dining portals are all run by the same company, so you can only sign up one credit to one program. You can however sign up for multiple programs, and link different credit cards to each.


Listen, travel for the (relatively and very) frequent traveler all comes down to what you make of it – so as in every other aspect of life, make the most of it!

There are ever-increasing ways to maximize your travel spend dollars, so we encourage you to do so – you won’t regret it when you can upgrade to First Class on that Hawaii vacation or earn SPG elite status through your work trips.I mean, why not?

And one more thing – always keep your eyes out for new deals and packages…and hey, when you do come across something worthwhile, let us know, okay?