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Earn Airline Miles With OTAs
Travel booking websites like Expedia, Orbitz and Hotels.com are known as online travel agencies (or OTAs or 3rd party)- these types of sites allow you to book all types of travel including flights so it’s important to know how to make sure you earn airline miles with OTAs. People like the simplicity of booking this way since OTAs show you flight options from many airlines which helps you save money and more easily compare flight prices across different airlines. The idea of booking through these third parties is to help you save time and money when booking. However, booking flights this way is not without any drawbacks because there are a few things that you’ll need to do to make sure you earn your frequent flyer miles.
When you book directly with an airline you’ll automatically earn your award miles and elite credit as long as your logged into your account, but when you book through a 3rd party you may need to complete the following process to get those miles in your account. Note- Generally if you are able to enter your airline frequent flyer membership number when you book with an OTA you’ll probably be able to automatically earn miles for your flight without having to take any further steps. For this to happen, the name on the reservation must match the name in the frequent flyer account. You can earn miles even when you buy flights through OTA’s as long as the fare you’re buying allows mileage accrual (this part depends on the airline’s rules, your route, partner crediting to, etc).
Earn Valuable Airline Miles and Loyalty Program Perks
Airlines offer customer loyalty incentive programs to encourage just that- customer loyalty. These programs treat loyal travelers to rewards like miles, access to airport lounges, elite status and other valuable perks that can help sway you to choose their flights. Airline awards can be redeemed for travel, seat upgrades, access to lounges, hotel stays and merchandise among other things.
In many cases, you get the best of both worlds when you book through sites like Hotels.com and Expedia because: you generally get to save money, earn cashback portal rewards and earn miles.
Related: How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Hotels
Here’s how to make sure you earn miles on your next flight booked with Online Travel Agencies
If your flight is eligible to receive frequent flyer rewards, you can make sure you get proper credit in one of the following ways.
- If you’ve already booked your flight without entering your account number, you can still add it to your reservation as long as you have an existing account at the time of the flight purchase. To add it, just login to your airlines site and enter your booking confirmation or ticket number.
- You can also call the airline’s customer service directly and have them add the flight to your account manually.
- When you check in at the airport gate, give the airline agent your frequent flyer information and have them add the flight to your account.
Save Big on Flights- Stack Shopping Portals, Credit Card Rewards, Loyalty Programs
How to Get Started- Join Airline Loyalty Programs
Since it is completely free to join your airline’s loyalty club- that’s one of the easiest ways to get started with award travel. It’s simple to open a frequent flyer account online. Open the airlines site and look for a button or section that says “Join” or “sign-up” button to sign up for your airline’s loyalty program on the homepage of its website.
Join OTA’s Rewards Program (Expedia Rewards, Hotels.com Rewards etc)
Most of the popular OTA’s have their own rewards programs which allow you to earn rewards on flights purchased via their platform. Check out my post to learn more “Hotels.Com Rewards & Status GUIDE (Earn, Redeem, FAQs)“.
Cashback and Shopping Portal Rebates and Bonuses
You have the opportunity to earn even more rewards on on airline ticket purchases by starting with an online shopping portal. Cashback monitor is a great place to start since it aggregates all of the different portals and lists the current bonus and cash-back rates offered by each based on the specific OTA you search. To earn rewards, just type in the merchant you plan on making the purchase with and click through the portal with the best bonus for you.
Get Extra Rewards: Pay for Flights with the Right Credit Card
When it comes to credit cards, it’s important to use the credit card that will help you earn the most miles and rewards for your purchase. Generally cards with a broad travel bonus category will be a good option when considering which credit cards to use when booking travel through OTAs.
Related: Shopping Portal and Online Cashback Sites + Apps [GUIDE]
Will Flights Booked Through OTA’s Earn Airline Miles?
To recap, to earn airline miles by booking through an online travel agency, you’ll have no issue getting your airline miles if your frequent flyer number is accepted by the booking system and included in your reservation. Online travel agencies offer great opportunities to maximize points and miles, and the opportunity to save on flights by stacking shopping portals, frequent flier programs, site specific rewards and credit card earnings. While it’s a few more steps than booking directly with an airline, in some cases it’s well worth it due to simplicity and savings.
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