The answer is simple – it depends. I know, that’s a cheap cop-out answer but the reality is that it depends on what your goal is. Some people just sign up for the one frequent flyer program they fly the most but, they may be losing out on some benefits from other airlines.
The two basic goals in joining a frequent flyer program are – airline status and free flights.
Airline status comes with some great perks which include lounge access, free upgrades and free adult beverages and meals. In order to take advantage of all of the benefits you must obtain the highest airline status, which normally means you must accumulate at least 100,000 miles flown in a calendar year. This means you need to be sitting in an airplane to accumulate the needed miles which is not an easy task if you do not travel frequently for business.
Free flights is a total different story. You can earn free flights in some instances with as little as 7,500 miles one way which is fairly easy and reasonable to accumulate. The major difference is that the miles do not have to be flown. You accumulate the miles needed by actually flying or even better yet by shopping for the items you were going to buy or pay for anyway such as groceries, gas and utility payments. In order to accumulate miles, you need to have a credit card affiliated with an airline or one that offers multiple options through a points system. Either way, it is a great benefit to gain for something you were going to do anyway.
I personally use the American Express Platinum Card which has a great points system and comes with some amazing travel benefits that alone surpass the annual card fee. However, there are plenty of cards out there so I will let you be the judge of which one best suits you.
Nonetheless, join the most beneficial frequent flyer program that suits you, achieves your goals and meets your needs. Heck, join a few of them and start working your way to free flights or travelling in style like I do.
You can read about some of the specific frequent flyer programs at: