Today I want to discuss the purpose of opening frequent flyer accounts. They aren’t like signing up for some worthless newsletter! They are the most beneficial thing you can do for yourself if you travel…. EVER. You don’t have to be a road warrior to benefit from a frequent flyer account. If you take a few trips a year not having an account is a huge mistake.

1. Promotions: I hate getting emails in my inbox for newsletters and promotions, but I’ve setup a second email account (they’re free) for only my frequent flyer accounts. If I receive an email in this account, I know it only relates to deals or promotions. Had I not had JetBlue account I wouldn’t have realized they were offering $29 fares from JFK to LAX! Southwest does it, Frontier does it, and JetBlue does it. I’m sure others do as well, but those are generally the airlines that have the flash sales for insanely cheap one-way flights.

As I was drafting today’s post, an email came out from my favorite airline, American Airlines, offering complimentary Platinum Status to certain accounts. Mostly these are people who have AAdvantage accounts and rarely fly with the airline. This is the second year American has extended this offer. Generally, it offers Platinum status for 90 days upon sign up and if you fly a certain number of miles within the 90 days, you are given Platinum status for the next year and a half. Its an amazing offer, but one that you could only receive if you are an existing member.

2. Miles: Think of all those trips you’ve taken in the past few years. One on Southwest, one on United, another on American. (I really hope you didn’t have to fly Frontier or Spirit…) Those miles add up! As long as you have some qualifying activity in a certain period the miles don’t expire. I recently purchased United miles to keep my small stash alive, just in case. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but if you earn a few miles here and there throughout your lifetime, it could eventually add up to a free flight!

3. Convenience: How many times have you been running to the airport frantically searching your inbox for your boarding pass or record locator? With a frequent flyer account, you enter your account number when the ticket is purchased, and its conveniently stored for you on the airlines website or mobile app. I happen to have an iPhone, so when I arrive at the airport, I bring up the airline app, log in, and my boarding pass is there waiting for me. You can quickly add it to your “wallet” and scan it at the TSA checkpoint.

Adding a frequent flyer number to your reservation makes it easy to keep track of each flight, especially if you happen to have several over a short period of time. If I didn’t care about miles and points, this would be a big enough reason for me to sign up.

Takeaway: When I first started flying, I would shop expedia/kayak for the cheapest flight, I didn’t care about points and miles, it pains me to think of all of the miles I’ve lost by not taking a few minutes to sign-up for an account. Its free! Yes, they’ll send you promotional emails every now and then (every day), but either unsubscribe or setup a second email account for all of those promotions to go. I wish my parents had signed me up when I was younger!

Safe Travels!