I am not a frequent flier.
But when I fly I look for the best prices, and then buy my tickets. I always join the frequent flier program at the airline I by my ticket through, since it is painless and quick.
I've never gotten a free flight from my actual flight points, because I don't fly enough.
But I do use the miles for free stuff!
Why not just save them up until I have enough for a flight? Well, the airlines are onto people like me, and they have instituted some expiration date policies. Most require a certain amount of flight activity to keep your points, or you will forfeit them within about a year. But there are other options besides flights!
At the beginning of December I got an offer for redeeming my soon to expire points for magazine subscriptions. I had received the offers before, but my miles were getting dangerously close to the expiration, so I took another look at it.
The website gave me a limited, though decent, selection of magazines and newspapers.
I took a look around and "spent" our miles.
I scored some magazines for the wife, and the Wall Street Journal for myself. The WSJ is not something I would have paid cash for, as it is expensive. It's around $120 for a years worth, which is out of my price range for sure. The value of our miles was less than $100 and for that I got several magazine subscriptions and the newspaper delivered.
It was a bit of an early Christmas present for myself and my wife last month!
Next time you take a flight, consider signing up, even if you don't fly that much. You can still walk away with some cool stuff for little effort!