Remember the frequent flyer game began as a way to promote customer loyalty. Elite status within a program does the same thing. Each airline is a little different, but typically if you fly 25,000 miles in a year you are a low level elite with that airline. There are typically 3 levels with increasing benefits based on the number of “Butt in Seat”miles.
A silver elite member may get 1.25 to 1.5 miles frequent flyer miles for every mile flown on his preferred carrier. Gold member 2 miles for every mile flown and Platinum 2.25 miles per mile flown. In addition Elite members receive free upgrades to first class when available or with credits they receive for so many miles flown. Elite status is really helpful in the event of missing a connection or having to overnight at an intermediate city. The airlines take care of their elite members.
There are often more award seats held available for Elite members and better seating on all flights like access to exit row or bulkhead seats. It sure makes a big difference having an exit row with all that legroom when flying overseas. Changes to award tickets are sometimes done without charge for elites and many times you’ll receive priority standby status on oversold flights as an elite member.
Be sure to study the elite program of your favorite carrier. Sometimes at year end it is actually worth doing a “mileage run” to get the last few miles you need to achieve Elite status. Elite status has made it possible for us to fly to Europe and get enough frequent flyer miles from that one trip, for a free domestic round trip ticket.
The same rules apply here. For example, stay at a Hilton hotel 16 times in a year and get Elite status which gives you more points in your hotel award program and free room upgrades. All the hotel chains have an awards program. Sometimes just taking out a credit card with them gives you elite status for a year.
Part of out honeymoon was spent at the Hilton Hawaiian Village (1 week) in an Oceanside room with the points accumulated applying for their credit card, staying at a few Hampton Inns, walking for Breast Cancer with the Susan Komen foundation and just keeping my eyes open for Hilton Honors Points. We also spent 4 nights at the Rome Cavaleri Hilton on points instead of $480 per night.
The 2006 “Big Bonus” was applying for Marriott credit cards which gave us 10000 points per credit card (we got 4, and never used them but once each) and with each card we also got a $100 gift certificate good at any Marriott. Combined with the Bonus bucks offer ($100 off 2 night stays) from Marriott we were big Marriott fans last year. This last year, 2007, those same credit cards offered 15,000 points each and a free night stay in a 1 to 4 category hotel.
Citi Prestige® Card
- Annual Fee: $450 fee
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Bank
The increase to 50,000 ThankYou points for the Citi Prestige card may be a signal that Citi wants back in the game, big time. The sign-up bonus has just been increased to 50K points from the previous 30K offer. An added benefit is a $250 annual air travel credit each calendar year -- so, if you sign up in April, you'll receive the credit this year, and again in January of next year -- which more than covers the $450 first year fee. When you add in lounge access for you and up to two of your guests, you’ve added another $400+ in value. One more benefit worth mentioning is the fourth night free for any four-night hotel stay booked through Wagonlit Travel. And lastly is the $100 statement credit when you sign up for Global Entry and pay for it using the Prestige card. Don’t forget the ever-growing number of airline transfer partners that work with the ThankYou points program.
- $250 Air Travel Credit each year
- Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
- Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
- Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 in gift cards.
- Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
- Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
- Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
- 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases