Most airlines and hotel chains offer their own loyalty rewards schemes, they are free to join and may come with sign up bonuses. Airlines partner with other airlines, retail and online stores (Tesco, Argos, John Lewis), hotels (IHG, SPG, Hilton) and credit card companies (American Express, Barclycard, Creation). You can collect air miles or hotels points by booking flights and accommodation directly with the airline or hotel , spending at partnered: airlines, retailers, online stores and spending on reward credit cards.
The fastest way to collect points is through credit card sign up bonuses. If you are able to meet the minimum spending requirements, American Express offers credit cards with sign up bonuses ranging from 5000 to 30 000 points. I personally collect airline points through credit card sign-up bonuses, using the credit card to pay for work travel (train tickets), groceries, entertainment, utility bills and even extra payments towards my student loan.
Redeeming Points for Flight Tickets
How many points would you need for a flight ticket? It depends on the airline and which scheme you are signed up with. If you look at the screenshot below, showing my Virgin Atlantic Flying Club account, I could book a one way ticket from London Heathrow to Johannesburg South Africa at a cost of 12 500 points and a cash payment of £184,91. Take a look at the second screen shot, the cheapest cash value ticket would cost me £1087.41
SCREENSHOT 1: BOOKING WITH AIRLINE MILES
SCREENSHOT 2: BOOKING WITH CASH