Man with Camera at Eiffel Tower

Usually the focus of this blog is on earning frequent flyer miles, or on redeeming them for free trips.

But periodically, it's worth considering an alternative method of accumulating miles: winning them in a sweepstakes.

Earlier this month we reviewed a JetBlue sweepstakes, featuring a fat 1 million points as the grand prize. That was noteworthy, but hardly unusual.

During the past few years, airlines and their marketing partners have turned increasingly to travel sweepstakes with big mileage prizes to get consumers' attention and influence their more»

Shopping from home (Photo: LLC, FogStock)

In the run-up to Christmas—during the predictable spike in shopping that defines the period—the airline and hotel programs in recent years have offered bonuses for shopping at their mileage malls and at other program-affiliated retailers.

This year is no exception.

The promotions are a good opportunity to add significant numbers of miles to your loyalty accounts, for expenditures you would have made in any case, assuming you're one of the millions of consumers who do much of their holiday shopping at online retailers. And the flip side: If you don't choose to earn miles from merchants that offer miles and points through one or more travel-loyalty programs, you may be getting less-than-full value for your purchases since there's no extra cost to get the more»

Photo: Index Open

Are miles on your shopping list? They should be.

With Christmas looming, this would be a good time to consider your mileage-earning strategy to ensure you maximize your rewards for holiday shopping.

In future blog posts, we'll round up and review the best seasonal shopping mile promotions from the airlines and hotels.

For now, here's a shopping-related offer from US more»

Travelers packing up convertible

The Best Western network includes more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries. A gift card good for a stay at any of those hotels might make a good Christmas present for the traveler on your list. And there's a bonus that makes giving rewarding for the giver as well.

Offer Details

Through December 31, Best Western Rewards members who purchase a $100 Best Western gift card will receive a $10 gift card (from Best Western, Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, or Carrabbas, Flemings & Outback), or 2,500 Best Western Rewards bonus points.

The bonuses may be earned an unlimited number of times, but require separate more»

AirTran aircraft tail close up (Photo: AirTran)

AirTran may be just months away from being absorbed into Southwest. But as this new promotion shows, the Atlanta-based discount carrier isn't spending its final days as an independent company flying on auto-pilot.

Offer Details

AirTran A-Plus Rewards members will earn one bonus credit for every round-trip flight from Atlanta booked between November 18 and January 31 and completed from November 29 through January 31.

Bonus credits count toward elite status, and will be awarded to all passengers traveling on the same reservation.

Travel must originate and terminate in more»

Dollar bills on a line (Photo: Index Open)

Rebates are great motivators, especially in today's penny-pinching environment.

But the $50 rebate on offer in this new InterContinental Hotels promotion shows how much value can be shed when such rewards are tied to onerous terms and more»

Credit Card: Man Holding a Range of Cards (Photo: iStockphoto/Andresr)

New this month from American Express is a more robust version of the Blue Sky credit card, the Blue Sky Preferred card.

Here's a summary of the new card's features and benefits:

  • Annual fee: $75
  • Annual percentage rate: variable, based on cardholder's creditworthiness, currently 17.24 percent, 19.24 percent, or 21.24 percent
  • Enrollment bonus: 7,500 bonus points after charging $500 to the card, redeemable for a $100 statement credit toward airline tickets, hotel stays, or any other type of travel
  • more»

Airplane Flying Around Globe (Photo: iStockphoto/kickers)

US Airways' much-discussed 100 percent bonus for purchased miles was set to expire today, November 15.

With no fanfare, or even notice, the airline has extended the offer until November 30.

Is this the promotion's last gasp, and consumers' last chance to take advantage of one of the most generous miles-for-sale bonuses ever?

Probably more»

JetBlue Airplane in Sunset (Photo: JetBlue Airlines)

According to the email I received this week from JetBlue, the airline is celebrating the first birthday of its TrueBlue loyalty program.

I found that perplexing, because it's not true. TrueBlue has been around since 2002, although I can understand JetBlue's reluctance to remind us of its early days. When the program launched, referring to its general stinginess, I called it a program only a CFO could love. And significant improvements to the program were a long time in coming.

What is a year old—and what I guess JetBlue is alluding to with its "1st birthday" reference—is last year's relaunch of TrueBlue, converting the scheme from a traditional segment-based program (like Southwest's) to a revenue-based program (like Virgin America's) more»

Photo: iStockphoto

Through January 31, 2011, members of Delta's SkyMiles and Marriott's Rewards programs can earn a hefty 5,000-mile bonus for Marriott stays taken in conjunction with a Delta more»