FlyerMiles 101

Earning Miles From Other Sources - Hotels, Car Rentals etc.

In this section, you'll learn how to earn flyer miles from other sources, whether travel or otherwise.

Let's get started!

It's ironic that flying can often be among the least-valuable methods for earning miles in airline reward programs, but if airlines are competing hard for your money, hotels and car-rental companies are fighting twice as hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace.


Car Rentals

Aeroplan partners with one or more car-rental agencies each year, offering bonus miles on rentals, as well as preferred rates for car rentals booked in conjunction with a plane ticket.

Sometimes, these aren't much to write home about; rent a car, get an extra 250 airline miles, no big deal and definitely not valuable enough to make you choose one rental company over another. Once in a while, though, they'll push a little harder, as I found out when Hertz ran a promo that was essentially 3,000 bonus Aeroplan miles on any two-day rental.

 

I already had several car rentals planned, so I booked all my rentals with Hertz, spent about $100 more than I'd planned, and racked up an extra 24,000 miles.

This won't always happen, and I generally find that the Aeroplan promos that Avis runs aren't nearly enough to justify paying twice as much as their competition, but it's definitely worth an extra 30 seconds to check it out before you book a rental.

Unlike hotels, car-rental chains also allow you to accumulate airline miles, while still earning status perks in the car-rental chain's own loyalty program. So, as a frequent customer, I still receive things like car upgrades and fast check-out, all I lose out on is points to be used for free car rentals.

Hotels

Hotel loyalty programs are a whole other kettle of wax, but for our purposes here it's worth noting that many major hotel chains will give you the option to earn airline miles from your stay, instead of points in the hotel's loyalty program.

If you're like me, and spend 40+ nights a year in hotels, you're probably better off racking up the hotel points, as the perks you'll get from the hotel program are definitely worthwhile.

If you're just staying a few nights here and there, you're probably not going to end up building enough hotel points to be worthwhile, and you may as well pad the vacation fund with a few more airline miles.

It's also possible to exchange your hotel points for airline miles in blocks of a few thousand at a time. This is sometimes a much better value than redeeming those hotel points for a free room. For example, 120,000 Marriott points will can be redeemed for about $1,200-1,500 CAD worth of hotel stays, or you can transfer them to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and book a business class ticket to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific that would cost considerably more.

As we discuss over on the "What Are My Miles Worth" page, the smart play is to look at what benefit is most valuable to you, and pursue that.

Other Programs

Aeroplan maintains partnerships with chains like Home Hardware, Park & Jet, and occasional promotions like a 75,000-mile bonus when you buy a new Volvo.

Honestly, ever since it was announced that Aeroplan was ending its partnership with Air Canada, these promotions have dropped way off in both quantity and quality. We'll see what happens now that Air Canada have decided to take over Aeroplan altogether.

 

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