Airline travel used to be very costly and difficult for many people to afford to go on sudden long trips for family emergencies or other important events. Then the airline miles offers started showing up among various credit card companies, and airline travel suddenly became a thing even struggling college students could afford on short notice.
I say that because while working my way through undergraduate school many years ago, I had a family emergency with no real economic means to pay for a flight back to the Midwest from my college home in Reno, Nev. I had enrolled in the journalism school at Nevada-Reno and was far from home when I got the call that my mother was rushed to the hospital and was undergoing surgery for an aneurysm.
Knowing the deadly nature of such ailments and not knowing if I’d be flying back to visit a recovering mother or grieve with my family and friends at her funeral, I took advantage of my credit card miles for the first time and got a flight back. This was a time when it was easy to book a red-eye, and security considerations were geared more toward smugglers and unruly drunks. So getting a quick ride down to the airport and booking a seat on the next open flight back home to Milwaukee was easy to do.
As luck would have it, the doctors stabilized my mother’s aneurysm and rescued from potential death. And the next day I arrived in time to greet my still groggy mother as she started to come to from her delirium and near-death ordeal. There still were some touch-and-go moments during which we were not fully certain of her survival, but as fortune would have it, she recovered fully and lived many more years with a much happier outlook for having survived a scrape with death.
My family and I were equally grateful for the ability to use my credit card miles to book a sudden flight back home to visit my mother and support my family during one of the most trying times of our lives. And I was extremely grateful I was not reduced to seeking a short loan from a friend or family member to book a flight home.
I simply called my credit card company and asked how many miles I had available and with which airlines. After obtaining that info, I cross-referenced with the flights scheduled at the local airport and within a few hours of that initial emergency phone call, I was on my way back home to learn more of the very uncertain outcome of my mother’s medical predicament.
I was awfully glad to have those airline miles available and that they were easy to use. I learned then the value of the free credit card miles and now use them very much to my advantage.
At least one per year, I try to take a free trip to someplace I never have been before. It might be to some local event that sounds interesting and many times involves touring old Civil War battlefields. Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Gettysburg are among just some of the interesting historical sites I have had the pleasure to see in part thanks to my free credit card airline miles. And trips to music events, like the annual Bonnaroo, Wanee and Mountain Jam festivals, are a lot more affordable when you can use your airline miles to pay for air transportation. The best mileage credit card offers are easy to find with research, like the ones I stumbled upon on milecards.com when doing my own research and many of them will give signup bonuses for new cardholders. That means you can rack up some serious flight time with normal credit card use and possibly qualify for additional bonus miles when using cards for specific purchases, such as paying for transportation. Paying for transportation could include paying for parking, renting a car, buying gas, paying for a taxi, buying airline tickets or a slew of other transportation-related purchases.
Many of the best mileage credit card rewards also provide discounted and free hotel rates at many of the largest hotel chains in the nation. That makes it a lot easier to get a free flight and inexpensive and potentially free lodging while traveling during non-peak times. In addition, when you use your card like I do to pay for daily items and then just pay off most or all of the balance; it’s really easy to earn a lot of bonus miles really fast.