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Travel Tip: The Fine Print of Airline Rewards

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800px-Airplane_shadowIt’s not hard to earn airline miles with airline rewards programs: all you have to do is fly or use a branded credit card. But there’s a lot of fine print that could mean being nickel and dimed when you try to USE those miles.

Frontier Airlines just announced that—starting at the end of October—rewards passengers will pay a fee if they book less than 6 months in advance. Only those with elite status will have the fee waived.

Other airlines—like United and American—charge to use miles, but usually only on tickets booked 21 days or less before the flight.

Those airlines will also charge you for making changes to your ticket—usually $75.

Want to cancel your flight altogether? On most airlines, lower-tier members have to pay $150 to $200 to redeposit miles back into the account.

But, watch out: A few years ago, the airlines quietly instated a rule that your frequent flyer accounts will expire if you don’t use them.

The good news is they’ll let you know in advance, and any activity counts—even if it means signing up for an overpriced magazine subscription with your miles!

For more information, visit the Airlines & Airports and Mileage & Reward Programs Archives.

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