Question Of The Week: Where To Credit Miles On A Cash Ticket

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Question Of The Week: Where To Credit Miles On A Cash TicketQuestion Of The Week: Where To Credit Miles On A Cash Ticket

Our question of the week looks at where to credit miles on a purchased flight. If you bought a ticket, you will earn miles. Which program will earn you the most miles from that flight? Surprisingly, it’s often not the program of the airline you’re flying on. Here’s how to know where to credit miles on a cash ticket.

The Question

Our question of the week comes from an email:

Hey Mark / MTM people, I have a beginner question. I bought a ticket to Costa Rica flying on Copa Airlines. I’ve never flown them before. Should I create an account with Copa to earn miles from the flight? Or something else? Thanks! Jen


Great question, Jen! This is a common question.

Jen’s question is what miles are best for her to earn from this purchased flight.

Question Of The Week: Where To Credit Miles On A Cash Ticket

Where To Credit Miles

There are 2 things we need when figuring out the best answer to Jen’s question.

  1. The fare code from the ticket. This is not your reservation number. Each ticket will show some type of fare code. Without knowing Jen’s ticket specifically, we can see Copa’s list of fare classes here. I went to Orbitz to make a dummy booking, which you can see above. On the ‘review your trip’ page, I can click on the ‘details’ option and see the fare code. For this booking, the fare code is A. This code will also be the first letter in your “fare basis” in the e-ticket you receive after buying a flight. It would be some like ALX30NR. We just care about the first letter here.
  2. We can use our fare code and airline we are flying on to find the best option for earning the most miles. compiles this information to show your options.

If we buy this ticket in fare class A on Copa Airlines, these are our best options. Sort by “RDM” which means “redeemable miles”. These are miles that you earn and can use to book flights. The other options are for those with elite status in various programs, who will earn extra miles and elite credits.

For our ticket, we’ll earn 100% of the distance flown by crediting the flight to Air Canada Aeroplan (read our breakdown of their new program here). That’s 1,492 miles each way on this ticket. For comparison, crediting your flight to United or to Copa itself would earn only 50%.

Question Of The Week: Where To Credit Miles On A Cash Ticket

Final Thoughts

It’s good to evaluate your options when earning miles from a purchased ticket. Depending on the airline you’re flying and the fare code you purchased, the differences can be big. Take this with a grain of salt, though, because “most miles” doesn’t always matter. I could get 100% of the miles on this flight by crediting to SAS in Scandinavia. However, I have 0 other miles with them and can’t transfer miles to them from anywhere. These miles would likely go unused. Make sure you credit to a program that’s actually useful for you.

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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