It’s easy to redeem frequent flyer miles for free flights, but you can also use them to save on the land or sea portions of your next vacation. With at least 11 airlines, you can redeem your miles for hotel stays, car rentals, train reservations, cruises, vacation packages, and even travel into space. By taking advantage of your program’s partners, you might even be able to book your whole trip for free.
Keep in mind, though, that a non-air award may not be a good use of your miles, unless you never plan on earning enough of them to fly for free. Be sure to compare the value of the awards below with the price you’d pay in cash, remembering that a mile is worth one to two cents.
Hotels: Once you’ve used your free award ticket to arrive in a new city, you’ll likely need a place to stay the night. Between 10,000 and 45,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles will net you free nights at Best Western and Delta hotels, while deluxe accommodations at the Inverness Hotel and Golf Club in Englewood, CO, can be yours for 30,000 Frontier EarlyReturns miles. If you’d like to stay at a resort, you can use Milepoint.com to get discounts on resort vacations.
Car rentals: If you’re planning a road trip or need a car once you reach your destination, both American and Frontier let you redeem miles for car rentals. You’ll need 8,500 to 15,500 American AAdvantage miles to rent with Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, or Thrifty. You can also redeem Frontier’s EarlyReturns miles for car rentals with Alamo, Hertz, and National, but you will need more miles if you are not redeeming a flight award on the same trip.
Cruises: There are two ways to use your frequent flyer miles toward a vacation at sea. You can redeem United Mileage Plus miles for cruises around the world at United Cruises. Or check out Milepoint.com, where you can use your America West, Continental, Delta, Midwest, Northwest, and US Airways frequent flyer miles to save up to $600 on cruises.
Trains: Alaska, Continental, and Midwest give frequent travelers the option of redeeming miles on Amtrak. You will need at least 5,000 miles for a train ticket. You may need to transfer airline miles into Amtrak Guest Rewards points, at an exchange rate of one point per mile, before you can book your free train ride. Alaska miles do not need to be converted.
Vacation packages: If you’re looking for a package deal, be sure to visit Air Canada’s website. You can redeem 25,000 to 125,000 Aeroplan miles for three- to seven-night ski packages at Mont Tremblant, Blue Mountain, Whistler, and Panama resorts.
Space travel: It’s true. If you’re a miles multimillionaire with a bit of whimsy and lots of patience, you can redeem 10 million US Airways miles for a seat on a suborbital space flight on the first private spacecraft to take passengers beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. It’s a deal that’s truly out of this world.