Maximize your purchases by using a credit card linked to a rewards program. (Photo: Credit card with beach scene image by patrimonio designs from Fotolia.com )
Select "Credit" for the payment method for the purchase. Some credit card companies, such as Citibank AAdvantage cards, restrict eligible purchases to credit transactions; debit card or transactions using a PIN (such as for a cash advance or that involve cash back) aren't eligible to earn frequent-flier miles.
Retain a copy of the receipt to track the purchase posted to your credit card account.
Set up an online account for your credit card or awards program, if needed. Set up a frequent-flier account with the desired airline, if an account hasn't already been established.
Log on to your credit card account, and select the applicable award program (such as Citibank Thank You Points).
Alternatively, log on to the Web site for the award program affiliated with your credit card, such as the Hilton Honors award program or American Express Membership Rewards.
Select the option to redeem points, and choose an airline partner, such as United Airlines or Delta.
Enter your frequent-flier account number and account information for the selected airline, if prompted.
Select the amount of points to convert and transfer to the airline program. Note: Some programs, such as American Express or hotel rewards programs, require a minimum number of points to convert and transfer, and they often designate blocks of points to redeem or convert (such as 20,000 hotel points converted to 8,000 frequent-flier miles). You must have the requisite number of points to complete the transaction.
Select the processing time, if available. Some programs, such as hotel membership rewards, require several weeks to process redemption requests but may offer expedited service for a fee.