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Top Five Frequent Flyer Deals for December 2008

There are many, many promotions. But there are only a few really, really good ones.

In this monthly roundup, I'll highlight the five most lucrative offers currently available to members of airline and hotel loyalty programs.

(Promotions are listed in alphabetical order.)

1. Continental Offers Extra Miles

OnePass members can opt to pay a surcharge to earn a bonus on Continental miles flown during 2009. Registration is required by January 31.

There are two versions of Continental's Extra Mile offer: Pay $125 to receive a 50% mileage bonus on all flights, up to 12,500 bonus miles; or pay $175 to receive a 50% mileage bonus, up to 17,500 bonus miles. In either case, assuming you fly enough to receive the full bonuses, you'll be buying the extra miles at 1 cent each.

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Considering that the average value of a frequent flyer mile is between 1.2 and 1.5 cents, this is not a bad deal. And for comparison, United offers a similar feature, called Award Accelerator, that effectively sells the extra miles for 3 cents apiece.

2. Six Times More Delta Miles for Hilton Stays

Through February 28 members of Delta's SkyMiles and Hilton's HHonors programs can earn six times the number of miles normally earned for stays of two or more nights at participating Hilton family hotels.

During the promotion, HHonors members earning Points & Variable Miles will earn 10 HHonors Base points and six Delta miles for every dollar charged to their room, instead of the 10 HHonors points and one airlines mile normally earned.

And HHonors members who choose Points & Fixed Miles will earn 10 Base points per dollar spent and 3,000 Delta SkyMiles per stay (or 600 miles per stay at Hampton and Homewood Suites), instead of the normal 10 Base points per dollar and 500 airline miles per stay (100 miles per stay at Hampton and Homewood Suites).

Registration is required.

Note: There are more than 3,000 hotels in the Hilton HHonors network, but only 1,500 of them are participating in this promotion. So be sure to confirm in advance that your hotel is on the list.

3. National Offers Free Rental Day

National has extended its Emerald Club One Two Free promotion, originally set to expire on December 12, through the end of January.

The offer: Members of National Car Rental's Emerald Club will receive one free rental day for every two rentals of a mid-size or larger car, for two or more days, in the U.S. and Canada.

Registration is required.

4. Earn More United Miles for Groceries

Through December 31, United Mileage Plus members can earn 1,000 bonus miles when shopping twice and spending $250 or more per shopping trip at Safeway, Vons, Dominick's, Genuardi's, or Pavilions.

To earn the bonus, Mileage Plus members must be enrolled in GroceryMiles and scan their Club Cards when paying for their groceries.

A maximum of 1,000 miles can be earned during this promotion.

5. Triple Dining Miles from US Airways

Through December 31, Dividend Miles members can earn triple miles for qualifying dines at restaurants participating in Dividend Miles Dining. A maximum of 3,000 bonus miles may be earned during the promotion period.

Registration is required.

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