If you’re a member of any of the major airlines’ frequent flier programs, you’ve probably received e-mails trying to get you to use those miles to bid on auctions for anything from resort getaways to Kentucky Derby passes. But the people who win these auctions may just be tossing away good miles. [More]
As we mentioned last week, a number of Citi customers around the country have been scratching their heads wondering why they received 1099 tax forms from the bank over frequent flier miles, even though IRS policy explicitly states that the agency as no interest in going after freebie miles as taxable income. Now the chair of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection has fired off a missive to Citi asking the CEO to not be such a pain in the rear-end to its customers. [More]
If you received a bunch of miles from Citi for signing up for one of the bank’s credit cards or rewards-earning accounts, be on the lookout for a 1099-Misc tax form coming in the mail, as Citi has decided that these miles have a taxable value. [More]
Even though it’s become increasingly easy to amass rewards travel points on most major airlines, it’s not only gotten more difficult to cash in those points for free tickets, those “free” tickets could end up costing you hundreds in taxes and fuel surcharges. [More]
For anyone wanting to earn reward miles on their favorite airline, the options are many. Your credit and debit cards can earn miles, so can taking online surveys or taking part in experimental drug trials (okay, not that last one). But while it’s becoming increasingly easy to accrue miles, it’s becoming more difficult to actually cash them in. [More]
Reader Mike has lots of frequent flier miles that he’d like to cash in with Continental Airlines. As he found out, this is extremely difficult. Here’s an email he sent to the CEO of Continental, Larry Kellner:
United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton is determined to wring added lucre from his now-profitable airline. Tilton is considering 250 unpopular ideas, such as charging economy-class passengers a fee to avoid receiving their luggage last, and spinning off United’s already wounded frequent flier program, Mileage Plus.
United appears to be following a strategy set by Air Canada, which gained billions of dollars after it emerged from bankruptcy in 2004 by spinning off its maintenance division and frequent-flier program into separate businesses, analysts say.
Why bother with frequent flier miles when you can donate them to charity?
The donations are tax-deductible, making them an attractive alternative to the Sisyphean challenge of ferreting out an eligible seat.
Many non-profit organizations have frequent flier mileage donation packages, and several major air carriers have developed charitable programs using earned miles. Some are exclusive partnerships geared to one or two specific charities, while others have multiple organizations with quarterly or monthly rotations, allowing all the participating charities equal time to receive miles.
Peter Greenberg lists several charities that accept miles as donations, from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to Save The Dogs, an Italian non-profit committed to rescuing stray dogs in Romania. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER
Nathaniel is a Milage Plus member with United who has been saving his miles in the hopes of cashing them in for two tickets to Ireland for his honeymoon. When he finally got enough miles, he called United to book his reward seats and got a nice “talking to” by their customer service rep for not booking far enough in advance.
Good old Jason Kottke, hero of the internet, has posted a couple links to some folks who’ve discovered a way to replicate the “buy lots of pudding, get frequent flier miles” plot-line from P.T. Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, which, in turn, was based on “a caper well-known within the frequent flier community when David Phillips purchased over 1.2 million frequent flyer miles for just under $2400, which has allowed him and his family to fly to over 20 countries for free.”