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Credit Cards, Frequent Flyer Miles, and "Priceless" Gifts

By , CardRatings contributor
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Credit Cards, Frequent Flyer Miles, and

 

More and more of us are accumulating frequent flyer miles – not because we’re flying all over the place, but because we get them as built-in perks when we use our credit cards. Of course, there are plenty of people who actually are frequent flyers, who rack up their piles of miles thanks to all the traveling they do. But these days, over half the miles we earn do not come from traveling. Instead, whether we’ll use them or not, we get some every time we say, “Charge it.”

I’m all for consumers choosing their credit cards to take advantage of this and other potentially valuable perks … assuming all other things are equal (interest rate, annual fee, terms, etc.). I think it’s great that competition is so tough for card issuers, they’re offering extra fringe benefits like this to woo and keep us!

According to Randy Petersen, Publisher/Editor of Inside Flyer magazine, the airlines give out 20 million or so free tickets a year. Isn’t that great?

Even more astounding: There are over 9 trillion miles in “current liability” – that is, just sitting there, waiting to be transformed into free flights. At least they’re not waiting out on the tarmac! But they’re not being put to good use, either.

Give a Priceless Gift

If you’ve got piles of miles, how about donating some of them to benefit our troops? Congressman C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger created a program that makes it really easy for you to do just that: Operation Hero Miles, where you can donate miles in support of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Already underpaid and stressed to the max, until 2004, members of the armed forces had to finance their own much-needed “R&R;” trips. But by contacting Operation Hero Miles, they could fly for free.

Regardless of how you feel about the war, I hope you agree that Ruppersberger came up with a painless solution to a serious problem for the well-being of our troops. And once the Department of Defense finally began paying for the soldiers’ travel, Operation Hero Miles switched its focus. The organization now gives free tickets to the families of wounded troops, so they can visit their loved ones in military hospitals.

I hope with all my heart that you and your Mom had a terrific Mother’s Day, and that you won’t ever need an Operation Hero Miles ticket. Unfortunately, there are many Moms out there – as well as their soldiers and kids – who will be thrilled to find out that their journey is possible.

I can’t think of a better gift than a contribution of frequent flyer miles to Operation Hero Miles. Click here for the details.

Have you done anything special with your frequent flyer miles or other credit card perks? Please let us know!

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