The Business Owner's Guide to Earning Frequent Flyer Miles

Man on his phone, in a cab, going to the airport.

By: Melissa Darcey

Frequent flyer mile programs aren’t reserved for world travelers. Small-business owners and employees who travel for work can also benefit from these programs, cutting costs and enjoying upgraded seats or other perks. If you’ve yet to explore the joys of earning business frequent flyer miles—or wonder if they make sense for you—here’s your go-to guide.

Earning Miles

Many airlines and credit cards offer loyalty programs that allow individuals to earn travel points, sometimes known as frequent flyer miles. For most programs, you collect a set number of miles or points based on the amount of money you spend on flights or travel. Once you’ve accumulated enough points, you can exchange them for tickets or other in-flight perks.

Business frequent flyer mile programs are nearly identical, though some offer additional incentives, including centralized dashboards for booking tickets and the ability to share miles among multiple employees.

Each rewards program has its own guidelines, but they all generally follow a similar format. Take, for example, Alaska Airline’s corporate program, EasyBiz. EasyBiz lets companies earn one Mileage Plan mile for each dollar they spend on regular airfares. Once a company accrues enough Mileage Plan miles, it can redeem them for flight tickets or discounts.

In some cases, you can earn miles or points without ever stepping on a plane. Select companies offer points for dollars spent at affiliated stores or through specific online portals, and credit card companies may offer points just for opening a new account.

Finding the Right Program

As mentioned above, both airlines and credit cards offer business frequent flyer rewards programs. You can use both or choose one, depending on your preferences.

Airline Rewards Programs

Airline programs are the more straightforward of the two options. These programs are usually free, and your miles generally won’t expire. After signing up, you receive an account number that you’ll use whenever you purchase a flight. You earn miles for each flight you book and then redeem those points for free flights or other rewards. Several programs offer additional points when you fly business class. Remember, these miles can only be earned and used through that particular airline or its approved partners.

Most airlines offer rewards programs specifically for corporate customers, so if you have a preferred airline, visit its website to learn more. One popular option is JetBlue’s Blue Inc., which offers tools to help small and mid-sized businesses book flights, cars, and hotels while earning points redeemable for travel. This could be a solid option if you have multiple employees who travel for work, as you can set unique user privileges within the dashboard.

Other notable business rewards programs include American Airlines’s Business Extra program (in partnership with British Airways and Iberia), Delta’s SkyBonus program (in partnership with Air France, KLM, and Alitalia), and United’s PerksPlus program (in partnership with Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, and All Nippon Airways). When picking a program, look specifically at the companies with hubs in cities your employees frequent. And don’t forget to verify whether employees can still accrue their own individual miles and points when attached to your corporate account.

Credit Card Rewards Programs

Rewards programs through credit cards are more complex, but they offer more reward opportunities and flexibility. For every dollar you spend, you earn a certain number of points, which you can then redeem for frequent flyer miles through select airlines. Some credit cards do charge annual fees, so read terms carefully.

Many airlines pair with credit companies to offer company-specific card rewards programs. One option for businesses is the American Express Business Extra Corporate Card, which works in tandem with the above-mentioned Business Extra program from American Airlines. With this card, your company earns points based on revenue spent.

Delta also offers American Express cards, known as Delta Skymiles Business Credit Cards. JetBlue offers a JetBlue Business Card MasterCard, and United offers a Visa United MileagePlus Club Business Card for easy mile accrual.

If you’d rather go with a card that isn’t attached to one specific airline, those exist too. Capital One offers a Spark Miles for Business Card, for instance, with rewards that can be redeemed for a variety of travel services.

Using Frequent Flyer Mile Programs Strategically

One of the best benefits of a frequent flyer mile program is the ability to save money on travel without changing any spending habits. If your employees use a company credit card with a frequent flyer miles program, they can rack up miles when they make regular work-related purchases, including team lunches and office supplies.

Additionally, using one rewards program through one airline streamlines business travel scheduling. You can use one account to book trips for multiple employees, gain access to spending reports, and more.

Don’t think you travel enough to make the most of free miles? You may be able to use a frequent flyer miles program as a perk for employees. As you earn miles, consider raffling them off, offering them as an annual bonus, or incorporating them into a benefits program. This can be particularly valuable for small businesses that can’t offer the same perks as larger companies.

Whether you fly monthly or occasionally throughout the year, business frequent flyer programs offer several rewards that can make flying less expensive and more enjoyable. Research available programs for your company to see how they can benefit you and your employees. Don’t forget to share this article on social media so your fellow business owners can start reaping the rewards of frequent flyer miles, too!

*Note: Frontier Business Edge does not officially endorse any of the above programs or cards. We encourage you to carefully read the terms and conditions associated with each rewards account or credit card you’re considering to find the right match for your growing business.