It’s here!! How to win the Free Trip to Australia’s Gold Coast!!!

As some of you may have heard, Boarding Area is giving away a free trip to Australia’s Gold Coast. This trip includes airfare, hotel, excursions, meals, PLUS enough cash to cover the approximate taxes. What a great prize!! The official rules and information can be found here.

So, your immediate questions must be: How to I enter?? And how do I WIN????

The answer:  Write a comment to this post about the following: What is your top tip for people who want to earn and use their loyalty points? Then one person who commented will be chosen by a random drawing. That person will then be entered in the Boarding Area drawing with the winners from the other blogs. So easy!!! Only one entry per person.

Good luck! I would LOVE for one of my readers to win this trip. Unfortunately, I cannot award it to myself (or my husband) but one of my readers would be the next best thing  🙂

(And for those who commented early–please don’t comment again, I will count those for the drawing. Thanks!)


  1. Stick to one or two programs for each of air, car, hotel, etc and be completely loyal to those, for example, go with SPG + SPG Amex + stay only at SPG hotels and sign up for as many promotions as possible via milemaven/pointmaven

  2. Find a program and stick to it. Pay very close attention to the expiration dates on your rewards, especially the free car vouchers and such (like the 1 2 free promo by National, those things expire really fast.
    Especially when dealing with rental cars try and break into a higher tier as you’ll get better service and better cars usually.
    For what it’s worth I’ve found points don’t matter as much as the perks to me. I would much rather get upgraded on 20 domestic flights than get one free international flight.

  3. Do your homework! Know EVERYTHING about the loyalty rewards program you chose: one-time promotions, how to get bonus points, who are the partners, etc.
    Every time you make a reservation/pay for something (store, hotel, restaurant, purchase on-line, concert, trip to a museum, etc) remember to check if you can use your loyalty card. EVERY LITTLE BIT ADDS UP!!!

  4. When you have a lousy experience with an airline, CONTACT the airline immediately; often you will receive double miles or at least courtesy miles. And if you don’t, you’re not being descriptive enough!!

    I’ve had great experiences with Delta’s customer service responding to some horrid flight experiences (when you fly 80,000 miles a year, you’re bound to have a few ugly ones!)

  5. While Flyertalk might have the most “bleeding edge” information about the latest deals and program developments, I’d recommend closely watching the blogs here at BoardingArea as well as listening to the Upgrd podcast. The blogs and the podcast are a much faster way to come up to speed!

  6. I’ve learned to look up loyalty promotions BEFORE booking, as many have registration requirement that only doles out awards for trips booked AFTER registration!

  7. Sign up for to keep track of your mileage balances if you are a member of several programs (like me!). The free version is great, but for as little as $1 for 6 months, you can also keep track of expiration dates for your programs, so that you don’t lose your hard-earned miles & points due to inactivity.

  8. Be sure to enter as many programs as you can, but try to concentrate your miles/points in one or two.

  9. Always know the promotions for your program and do your best to take advantage of them.

  10. Earn airline miles with one carrier/alliance but with at least two hotel chains to ensure that there’s a location you can use points on a trip and in case the hotel of choice has no rooms available, that way you have a backup to use when you want to cash in points for a trip.

  11. My advice would be to “get loyal” with a favorite hotel chain/ airline/ rental car company – higher level loyal members, Starwood Platinums, Hyatt Diamonds, United 1ks, for example not only earn base points but bonus points for these member classifications, as well as other perks and upgrades (free) that rewards the loyal frequent traveler.

    Also, using a branded credit card to pay for these hotel rooms and plane tickets (United’s Visa, Starwood’s Amex, for example) have a way of being a point multiplier for increased earnings ad well.

  12. My top tip for using mileage points is to plan well in advance and to fully understand the specific restrictions of the program.

  13. Do the math. Even if a domestic ticket seems expensive, it’s almost never worth it to burn miles. Save them for your international trips.

  14. If you get a rep that says it cant be done, hang up and call again until you get a rep that will work with you and is knowledgeable. Try try try again.

  15. Be aware of opportunities to transfer miles/points from one program to another for free without devaluation.

    A good one I’ve used heavily is Amtrak Guest Rewards -> Continental OnePass. Limit of 50K per year – and even that might only be for Amtrak elite pax. Still, it’s a steal. For example, right now there’s a (possibly targeted?) offer for the co-branded Chase MC that yields 18K Amtrak points upon activation and another 18K with $2K spend. Easiest 36K Continental miles I’ve every heard of.

    Similarly know how much the miles/points are worth to you so you know when to earn and when to burn.

  16. Points are in the details, understand where the bonuses are and how to get them as cheaply as possible. Don’t spread yourself to thin between too many programs because it gets too crazy

    Then to spend them, plan as early as possible and do the research on miles required, could find a steal where you least expect it. (e.g. when was still up during transition)

  17. As I’ve gotten older, my time has become more valuable and I’ve had more disposable income. Therefore, I recommend being a little more willing to spend money instead of sacrifice time to build mileage balances.

    On Continental, I have the Presidental Plus credit card, which gives a 25% redeemable miles bonus. I pay in advance for the Extra Mile bonus, which is another 50%. I have Platinum status, offering a 100% bonus. And I frequently purchase B fares, which are upgradeable at booking and earn 150% EQM, good for keeping status.

  18. Be friendly with hotel/airline counter agents! You just may get upgraded – especially if you are traveling on a special occasion such as your honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Let them know!

  19. Purchase paper gift certificates at a Mom and Pop supermarket with a mileage earning credit card and redeem by buying a couple of small items; mine gives me change in cash. Rinse, repeat. (This is useful when you need to hit a spend threshold on a credit card)

  20. I use my miles credit card for everything! I get miles for all purchases and it keeps any of my miles from expiring! You don’t want to lose miles. Thanks.

  21. Concentrate on one program, and get a credit card linked to that program. Those will help you build mile as quickly as possible.

  22. keep track of your flights! save your receipts and make sure you get credited for everything that you fly – sometimes flights, especially those bought on discount travel sites (orbitz, etc), can fly underneath the radar. also, keep track of partnerships- you never know when something you get regularly anyways may also qualify for miles

  23. Know what your programs’ expiration rules are and what it takes to keep your miles/points from expiring. Even if you don’t have enough miles in your account to take a flight, you may have an opportunity in the future to get enough for a ticket. Keeping miles alive in many programs can also be done cheaply. For example, buying a song on iTunes keeps United miles alive for another 18 months.

  24. Many airline carriers allow for one-way award redemptions. If you have trouble finding round trip award availability at the lowest redemption level, do some one-way searches before ponying up the higher amount of miles

  25. If you are desperate to get multiple seats on the same flight using miles you need to plan ahead (330 days in advance), and be prepared to book them one at a time, over time, understanding that you might never get them all and might have to pay for one.

  26. What’s your top tip for travelers who want to earn and use their loyalty points? At Christmastime, do all your shopping online for FF miles! I’ve racked up lots of points this way and have traveled to Europe and California using my FF miles.

  27. concentrate one one or two programs and learn the rules so as to maximize earning and redemption possibilities

  28. Use the Starwood AMEX to accumulate points, then transfer to your favorite airline program with a 25% bonus for 20,000 point exchanges. Alternatively keep Starwood Amex points in reserve so you can transfer smaller amounts to “top off” airline accounts to reach the award you need.

  29. Earn/consolidate to one frequent flyer program of an alliance. Always check the ‘Fare basis code’. Starwood Preferred Guest card is best credit card for earning miles, gives 5k bonus for redeeming 20k miles to 30 different FFP program.

  30. My top tip:

    Never let a mile go waste: Never pay cash when you can charge to a mile earning card, never let any miles expire, never miss a mileage promotion and never use miles for free flights for yourself.

  31. Air miles and some hotel points expire. When you sign up to earn these miles, ask the related parties how long you have to accrue the points, how long they are valid and if there are policies on extending earned miles or awards. Be careful!

  32. Consolidate to one or two rewards programs, enter all promotions, and use points as they accumulate so much as is reasonable to counter any fears of inflationary pressures the points may face (and limits the need to worry about expiration dates).

  33. I am a big fan of Hilton HHonors for hotel loyalty programs. But use your points on the really really expensive hotels — you can get a $600 room for the same number of points as a $200 room. Also if you are the highest loyalty level (diamond) you can get a guaranteed spot even in a full hotel, and you pretty much get upgraded to the nicest room automatically. So pay for the cheapest room with points, and then get upgraded to an executive suite with lots of free goodies. Also you can earn points with them through their dining partners — pretty wide selection of restaurants.

  34. Partners and alliances are your friends. Bank in one program and redeem with all the carriers available that they are aligned with to get the best value.

  35. If you only travel a moderate amount, make every hotel stay one night and then switch hotels for the next night. This is the quickest way to elite levels at the hotel chains. The hotels always require less stays than nights to reach elite levels, so by switching hotels nightly, you can earn elite status with just 2-3 stays per month. Once you have status, you’ll start earning additional bonus points and upgrades.

  36. The best advice I ever received is to pick one carrier/alliance and one hotel chain and stick with it. It’s much better to be the top of one program than the middle of many. You want all of the points you achieve to get you the most you possibly can, not spread out across different alliances or chains.

  37. Read Flyertalk and blogs like this for the latest advice on mileage earning and burning opportunities.

  38. Stick with one alliance to maximize your mileage earning abilities; make sure you check mileage earning on partners (you never know which airlines/rental car companies/hotels/credit cards/etc. partner with one another!). Save those miles for your dream first-class trip anywhere! Luxurious air travel is the best way to get the most out of your miles. 😀


  39. Focus on your goals – what kind of experiences are you looking for? Once you know that, you can focus on particular loyalty programs that will get you to your goal quickest!

  40. Pick an alliance, use it. Pay for everything with your miles card. Use any opportunity for double and triple miles offers. Use up the miles before the airline goes out of business.

  41. Focus on a few – preferably one loyalty programs – for flights and hotels and try to maximize the amount of points you can gain for these programs. Like George Clooney says in “Up in the air” – never spend a dime without trying to gain points for it. Taking advantage of the excellent resources on the web – like boarding area blogs that will help you find all the ways to earn those points. Then use ’em quickly and enjoy!

  42. Earn every chance you can and credit to as few programs as possible (consolidate). For example, credit flights to one airline program per alliance and when staying at a hotel outside your “preferred” hotel program(s), try to credit to an airline rather than holding just a couple of points in every program.

  43. Study and sign up for every program. I sharply regret the stays and flights I made before enrolling thinking a one night stay here and there it was not worth it.

  44. I use my rewards card to pay for almost everything, and then have my wife book trips. It just works better that way.

  45. Read Boarding Area blogs – they boil down the fluff into the nitty gritty. Join Flyertalk and forge invaluable friendships with people who can help cover all the bases. They got my back!

  46. Obtain the credit card for your favorite airline. If you’re going to be spending money anyway you may as well get something for it. Also the program I use you can use mile to upgrade to first class on international flights. For example on a discount economy ticket from New York to Tokyo, which can run about $900 roundtrip, you can upgrade to first class for 60,000 miles and $1000 roundtrip. That same first class ticket would cost over $11000 and because you still earn miles for the flight that means it only costs you 45000 miles to save $9000.

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