Surely you are not one of those people that are already finished with your holiday shopping. There are countless deals out there in cyberworld. I want to make sure that you remember to "earn" as many points as you can.
As I prepare to buy anything online, I visit rewardsdb to see what mile/point values are awarded for my desired vendor. For instance, if I intend to buy something from eddiebauer.com, I see how many miles per dollar each airline (hotel, etc.) program will award.
I use this process because I have several accounts that I can add points to. If you have only one (or just a couple), it may be easier to go directly to the source and buy. By the source, I mean the point issuing website and not the vendor. For instance, logon to mileageplusmall.com and link to the Eddie Bauer website, in order to receive United Airlines miles.
Besides earning bonus points, holiday shopping gives consumers a great opportunity to keep accounts active. Billions of points expire annually from inactive accounts. You do not have to travel to keep your account active. You can spend as little as $1 (buy a song on iTunes).
There are many promotions also. US Airways has a 250% bonus, in addition to the other earned points. To qualify, you need to buy from 5 separate merchants.
If your miles are going to expire and you do not want to buy anything, or you have the holiday spirit, you can donate your points. Make-A-Wish is one charity that can really use any donation of frequent flyer points. Check your desired airline's website for more charities and suggestions.
I intentionally did not go into much more detail in this post. There are other websites and people that cover this topic better than I. For all things related to optimizing travel, I frequently visit FlyerTalk.com. A mileage guru that you should follow on Twitter is Gary Leff.
© 2009, Charles McCool