Subject: Re: Those last 10,000 miles...
Hi DIdi I consider myself somewhat of an expert on award miles, since most of our flying is done this way. If I wanted 10,000 miles on a particular airline, I would get that airline's charge card. The reason is this: If you get a card that accumulates miles for various airlines, you may or may not be able to transfer miles in increments of less than it takes to get an entire ticket. If you decide to go with American Express, for example, it would be wise to call and ask them if this (adding mile awards to an already existing sum in an account) is possible. Also, working with a specific airline, you might have better luck in getting your miles posted to your account in time to get your ticket. I just save miles on two airlines. I find it best for me, because we fly out of Pittsburgh which is a limited airline market.

About the charge card: negotiate your bonus reward for signing up. If you have to pay a yearly fee of say, 50 USD, an initial signing on bonus of 5,000 miles is a reasonable one to expect. I would settle for 4,000, but not less. Check to see if you can also get a bonus for changing your phone service, but be aware that it sometimes takes months to accumulate the promised miles for changing phone services.

When we need miles in a hurry, we try to get any huge purchases or bills on the designated charge card. For example, we charged a car and our daughter's college tuition recently. This doesn't mean we have to finance those purchases this way; we can always use our credit union, savings, line of credit, or whatever to actually pay the bills, because they all have much lower finance charges than airline charge cards. We also pay our balance off each month because of the higher than average rates on airline affliated cards. But we charge everything, and I do mean everything. If my husband buys milk with cash, I am unhappy.

The Major Caveat: I guess you have already checked to make sure that there are award seats available in May. If there are, maybe you should buy the 10,000 miles because very few seats are allotted and they go fast. I usually book award seats on the earliest available date, because they go so quickly. This is usually about 11 months out from the return date.

I have found that travelling on award miles is something that I have to do a lot of planning around. Domestic flights are much easier to get award tickets for than international ones. I can usually get to another state without much advance notice, but getting to another country generally takes some planning and juggling.

Hope this helps, Debbie in Pittsburgh