How to Combine Your Air Miles With Other Airlines
Once used exclusively by the corporate traveler, air miles have increasingly become popular with the leisure class ever since American Airlines introduced this concept in 1981 as a marketing gimmick. There are several ways to amass air miles these days, from enrolling in a frequent flyer program that is affiliated with one specific airline, to using a credit card or debit card that gives you mileage rewards for every dollar you spend. Think of air miles as a form of currency. Combining air miles with other frequent flyer miles (not from the same airline) is possible if the airlines are partners under one umbrella alliance.
One of the easiest ways to combine miles between airlines is to enroll in a frequent flyer program in an airline that has several partners. For example, the Star Alliance currently has more than 27 members including Lufthansa, U.S. Airways, Thai and Turkish Airlines so you can mix and match miles between partners easily through the Alliance's "Miles and More" (miles-and-more.com) program. So if you receive Star Alliance Award travel, you can use these miles across all "Miles and More" partners. This is one of the easiest ways to combine miles.
Another good strategy to easily combine air miles with other airlines is to enroll in American Express Membership Rewards program (membershiprewards.com). Once you have an AMEX card and are enrolled in the program, it is easy for you to determine how many points will translate into a roundtrip ticket. You can also transfer points to nearly 20 frequent flyer programs and sometimes combine miles you've earned with AMEX points. For example, Delta's SkyMiles program allows you to transfer AMEX points and combine these with existing air miles to qualify for a ticket or upgrade.
Points.com is a good site to use to track your loyalty program balances and also to see what offers are available to combine your points on airlines. Since these incentives vary daily, check back with the site to see how best to leverage your miles. According to Geekeroo, some of the reward points can have an expiration date.
If you're a Diner's Club Card (dinersclub.com) holder, you can enroll in the Club Rewards program and reap the benefits of earning points that you can later use across a number of airlines. The Club also allows Reward members to design their own dream award travel; combining Club points and air miles may also be possible.
Hilton HHonors (hhonors1.hilton.com) is the only hotel guest reward program that allows members to achieve complete flexibility on how they earn their awards, whether they are for hotels or airlines. There are several program options that allows you to use your HHonors points and redeem them for frequent flyer miles on the airline of your choice; therefore, a member can easily combine their existing mileage balance with redeemed HHonors points to get award travel to the destination of their choice.
Things You Will Need
Frequent Flyer Program Membership (airlines with partners are better)
American Express Membership Rewards Program
Diner's Club Membership
Hilton Honors Program Membership
Avoid waiting too long before redeeming or combining miles. According to MoneyWeek, since miles are like currency, inflation could set in.