George Clooney's latest movie, Up in the Air, is about racking up frequent flyer miles. The main character explains how he's working his way towards earning 10 million miles: "I don't spend a nickel, if I can help it, unless it somehow profits my mileage account."
These days, getting frequent flyer miles is more helpful than ever. The airlines are charging more and running less flights, but the demands of a business traveler haven't gone down. Planning ahead for travel costs can make a big difference on your bottom line.
Making the Most of Travel Rewards
When you're traveling on an employer's dime, building up miles can be a nice perk — a way to wind up with a few extra plane tickets without paying for them. But when you operate your own business, frequent flyer miles are more than a perk. They are an essential part of your travel planning.
I have clients all over the world. Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Buenos Aires — if there's a good internet connection in town, chances are that I've worked with a client based in that city. I'm not alone, either. If you do any portion of your work online, you could be working with clients and vendors all over the world. That can make for plenty of traveling and when you add in conferences and other trips, you can really rack up the miles.
If you can plan your travel schedule in advance, you can make the most of your travel rewards. You've probably budgeted in the trips that you absolutely have to take. You may have even set aside money for one or two last minute or not high prioirty trips. Getting some of those paid for by accumlated miles will help a lot. You may not even need to spend time in the air to ensure that you have enough miles to cover those flights.
Earning More Travel Rewards
As a business owner, there are some unique opportunities for adding to your mileage account. It's not just a matter of how many times you've flown, although that helps. Frequent flyer programs are loyalty programs, of course, so booking all your flights through one airline can help you earn some miles.
But with the right card for your business, you can keep adding to that total. Many card companies have teamed up with airlines to offer perks like extra miles, and that includes ones specifically for businesses. For every dollar you spend with the card (even on nontravel items), you earn miles.
If you're serious about earning free plane tickets, your business card can be an incredible opportunity. Think about every expense your business has in a week or a month. What if you paid all those bills with your business card? How many miles would you earn? Such a strategy could make a major difference in just how many trips you can make in the next year.
Other Uses for Travel Rewards
Of course, you aren't limited to paying for just airfare with frequent flyer miles. They can be used to get upgrades to better seats and sometimes you can even book hotels with your miles. George Clooney's character may have earned 10 million miles — but you only need to build up a few hundred thousand miles to get a free business class trip to Europe.