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Earn miles, elite status, and a flyer’s gratitude with holiday shopping

SmarterTravel

Some people thrive on holiday shopping. Others dread it. If you’re a frequent flyer, you can at least turn a day of shopping into free miles and elite status for yourself. Or, if you have loyal travelers on your gift list, you can solve your gift indecision with a few minutes on an airline’s website.

Earn miles for shopping

A tie for dad, a necklace for mom, and a free flight for yourself—how could you go wrong? Skip the crowded malls and log onto your favorite airline’s [% 1304427 | | mileage mall %]. You can earn one to 10 miles per dollar spent when you shop this way. In addition, one purchase will extend the life of your miles, while several purchases will get you that much closer to a free flight.

The holiday season is also one of the most lucrative for earning miles for merchandise. Several airlines are offering extra miles at their malls this month. MasterCard holders can earn double miles at the AAdvantage eShopping Mall, and Worldperks Visa carriers can get a free 5,000 miles when they spend $250 or more at Northwest’s WorldPerks mall. Other airlines, such as Alaska, are offering extra miles for select purchases.

The new Shop4Miles.com website allows you to comparison shop for select items and earn Alaska, Delta, or US Airways miles for each purchase. To shop, you’ll first need to register for an account and provide your frequent flyer number.

If you’d rather shop the old-fashioned way—in a brick-and-mortar store—you can still earn miles for your purchases. Once you have an [% 332160 | | airline-affiliated credit card %], you can buy anything anywhere and earn one or two miles per dollar charged to the card. Alternately, you can get a credit card with a proprietary frequent buyer program, such as the Capital One No Hassles Miles Rewards card, and earn points that you can exchange for flights on any airline.

Earn elite status

Typically, your miles for shopping don’t count toward elite status. But this year, US Airways members are in luck. With the airline’s Everything Counts promotion, miles earned for purchases at the Dividend Miles Shopping Mall count toward elite status. Miles from FTD flower gifts count toward status as well. So if you’re close to qualifying or re-qualifying for 2007 elite status, now’s the time to send everyone you know gifts or flowers you bought online.

Be thanked for thoughtful gifts

Don’t know what to get the frequent traveler on your list? Consider the [% 15899 | | gift of miles %]. It’s not a stocking stuffer, but if a friend or relative is a few miles short of an award, you could help them out with a few thousand extra miles. Most U.S. airlines have gift miles programs, with prices averaging a few cents per mile plus taxes and a transaction fee.

Or, you can use your miles to [% 1627127 | | purchase tickets %] for your loved ones. If mom and dad haven’t left Florida in years, or your little sister has plastered her dorm room with photos of Paris, you’d create a lot of holiday goodwill if you emptied your mileage account to send them on a trip.

Better yet, book a trip to see your far-away friends and relatives, or book them a flight to come see you. A personal visit can be a great gift at holiday time.

If you’re really moved by the spirit of the season, you can also donate your miles to the charities supported by your airline. Knowing your miles helped someone in need is a great gift as well.

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