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Traveling by plane is fast and efficient, especially for long-distance travel, but it is costly. Those who have traveled to far-away destinations should notice that their flight tickets eat up a significant chunk of their budget. That said, there are ways to reduce that cost – or even make it totally free!

Frequent Flyer Miles

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Frequent flyer miles are probably the first things that came to mind when it comes to reducing flight ticket costs. These are part of a loyalty program offered by many airlines around the world, in which you accumulate a set amount of miles based on how far you fly. They are quite like the points-based rewards you rack up on your credit cards, since every few miles (RM) spent equates to one frequent flyer mile (points). Simply sign up for a frequent flyer account with your favourite airline and you’re good to go.

Credit Card Miles

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The average Malaysian probably doesn’t travel by flight often enough to take full advantage of frequent flyer miles. You’d have to wait many, many years before you can have enough air miles to redeem for a long-haul flight! For us, credit card miles may be the better and faster way to go. Some credit cards reward you for traveling in the form of miles or points, which you can later redeem for airfare, hotels, or other travel expenses.

And when such credit cards say ‘traveling’, unlike frequent flyer miles, they don’t just limit you to flight ticket purchases to reward you! Travel rewards credit cards often let you accumulate miles or points for every ringgit charged to your cards, plus bonus miles or points for spending in chosen categories or time-frames. You’ll basically be saving up for your next flight ticket with every ringgit you spend on your credit card. That’s much easier than waiting for every flight ticket to get miles, right?

Limitations

Of course, both frequent flyer miles and credit card miles have their limitations as well, such as:

Frequent Flyer Miles Limitations

Since frequent flyer miles are offered by airlines, they have more control over what tickets and seats you’re able to redeem using those miles. You might find that you’re restricted to certain types of flights, certain dates (major holiday periods are often blacked out), and even the number of seats you’re able to redeem per flight. Travel Tip: use those miles to upgrade your seats instead of a brand new ticket if you don’t travel that often.

Credit Card Miles Limitations

Credit card miles have one very big disadvantage over frequent flyer miles: they expire. You’ll need to use them up before they expire to avoid wasting your miles. The ringgit-to-miles/points conversion also differs for each credit card, so shop wisely to get a credit card you’ll use often. But luckily for you, since credit card perks are deals struck between credit card providers and other businesses, you’ll find that you have a lot more freedom on your flight ticket purchases. No limited seats, no limited dates, no limited airline. Of course, you’ll have to check the terms and conditions, but you won’t be limited like your frequent flyer miles.

Conclusion

Really frequent flyers may find that frequent flyer miles pay off better, while those that occasionally travel may find that the lower potential value-per-mile of credit card miles are more flexible and easier to accrue. Of course, the absolute best way to reduce your flight travel costs would be to take advantage of both frequent flyer and credit card miles! Both of these miles require you to plan ahead, so if you get one now, you should have ample time to prepare for the upcoming school holidays.

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