The short answer is yes. Yes you can fly for free. I’m an Air Miles collector, and without much effort on my part, I can fly to South America, Europe of Africa return from Toronto about once a year for free (taxes and fees not included). To be a happy and successful Air Miles collector, there are a few things you must do:
1. Be Flexible
Not every vacation plan will work well with an Air Miles flight. Decide where and when you’ll be going, then search for the best flight deal. Once you do that, check in with your Air Miles account, and see if you can do better. Sometimes you can, but sometimes you can’t. Sometimes, there are just no flights available to where you want to go on the date you want to go there. You have to be ok with that, and just decide to keep collecting your Air Miles for a different vacation. However, there are actually times when Air Miles will offer you an awesome flight, worth far more than the cheap flights you find online. That was the case when I flew to Costa Rica. My flight was worth $1,500 and I paid $274 with Air Miles.
2. Get Comfortable Using Credit Cards
You will never accumulate enough Air Miles to go anywhere unless you decide to get and use an Air Miles sponsored credit card. For Canadians, Bank of Montreal Mastercard offers a card that not only accumulates points every time you use it, but you also get a 25% discount on the miles you need to go anywhere! I also use an Air Miles Amex card because I buy my gas at Costco, and that’s the only cc they will accept. The Only Rule – pay your cards off every month! What you save in flights could be easily offset by interest charges.
3. Understand the Partnerships
You see my Hudson’s Bay points card in the picture above? You might be wondering why it’s included since The Bay doesn’t accept Air Miles. But they do! You can go into your Bay points account an opt for your points to be transferred, every month, automatically, into your Air Miles account.
There are a lot of companies that will give you Air Miles but only if you buy online and through the Air Miles web site. Stores like Amazon, Apple and the Gap! These stores don’t advertise this little fact, but the Air Miles web site will give you a complete list of stores and show you how to do it.
4. Enlist a Little Help From Your Friends
Air Miles will give you as many supplementary cards as you want. If you have friends willing to scan for you, then give them a card. I have 3 friends who regularly collect Air Miles on my behalf.
5. Use Coupons
I grocery shop at Metro, and I use their app for coupons. It’s easy. I just open the app when I’m about to go shopping, flip through their coupons (some are $ off coupons, and some are air mile bonuses), tap the ones I want to redeem, then show my phone to the cashier at check out. There are lots of times Metro and Rexall offer 50-100 bonus Air Miles if you spend a minimum amount. Watch for those. Even if you don’t need to spend that much, it’s a good time to stock up on laundry soap.
I’m hoping these little tips were helpful. There are Air Mile hackers out there who have turned this into a science, but this blog post is for the average person who isn’t obsessive, but is ok with being a little diligent to get a free flight.