What are Airline Miles Rewards?


Airline miles, often referred to as frequent flyer miles or travel points, are part of loyalty programs offered by airlines. These programs are designed to reward customers for their loyalty to a particular airline. But how do these airline miles work? And how can you maximize your rewards? This guide will help you understand the ins and outs of airline miles programs and help explain what are airline miles rewards?

Airline Miles Rewards Explained

Earning Airline Miles

The most common way to earn airline miles is, unsurprisingly, by flying. However, the number of miles you earn is often based on the distance you travel, the fare class of your ticket, and your membership status within the airline’s loyalty program. For example, American Airlines awards miles based on the price of the ticket and the member’s status level.

But flying isn’t the only way to earn miles. Many airlines have partnered with credit card companies to offer co-branded credit cards. These cards, like the Chase United Explorer Card, often offer sign-up bonuses and award miles for everyday purchases. Some even offer bonus miles for purchases made with the airline itself.

In addition to credit cards, there are other ways to earn miles without flying. Many airlines have online shopping portals and dining programs where you can earn miles for purchases you would make anyway. Car rentals, hotel stays, and even certain utilities can also earn you miles with some programs.

Airline Miles vs. Points: What’s the Difference?

While the terms “miles” and “points” are often used interchangeably, there can be a difference depending on the airline’s program. In general, “miles” are typically earned through flying, while “points” are often earned through non-flight activities, such as credit card spending or hotel stays. However, both miles and points can usually be redeemed for flights and other rewards.

It’s important to understand the specific rules of your airline’s program. Some airlines have a one-to-one ratio of dollars spent to points earned, while others may have different ratios. Additionally, some airlines may award more points for business or first-class tickets compared to economy tickets.

How to Redeem Airline Miles

The primary use of airline miles is to redeem them for free or discounted flights. The number of miles required for a flight depends on factors such as the destination, time of booking, and class of service. Some airlines use a fixed award chart where the number of miles required for a flight is set, while others use dynamic pricing where the number of miles changes based on demand and other factors.

In addition to flights, miles can often be redeemed for upgrades to a higher class of service, hotel stays, car rentals, or even for products and gift cards. However, using miles for non-flight rewards often provides less value.

Maximizing Airline Miles Rewards

To get the most out of your airline miles, it’s important to have a strategy. Here are a few tips:

  1. Choose the Right Program for You: Consider your travel habits, preferred airlines, and where you typically spend your money. If you frequently fly with a particular airline or spend a lot on travel, a co-branded airline credit card could be a good fit.
  2. Understand the Redemption Process: The value of miles can vary greatly depending on how they’re redeemed. In general, using miles for long-haul, international, or business/first-class flights tends to provide the best value.
  3. Keep Your Miles Active: Many airlines’ miles expire if there’s no activity in your account for a certain period, typically 18 to 24 months. However, any earning or redemption activity will usually reset the expiration date.
  4. Take Advantage of Special Promotions: Airlines often run promotions where you can earn bonus miles for certain activities. This can be a great way to boost your miles balance.
  5. Use Your Miles Wisely: While it can be tempting to use your miles as soon as you have enough for a free flight, it’s often better to save them for more expensive flights where you can get more value per mile.


Airline miles programs can be a great way to save money on travel and enjoy other perks. By understanding how these programs work and how to maximize your rewards, you can make your travel experiences even better. So whether you’re a frequent flyer or just planning your next vacation, it’s worth taking the time to understand and take advantage of these programs.