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Getting the Best Travel Rewards How to get the maximum benefits from your airline travel rewards program

By Rosalind Resnick

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I went online recently to book a trip to Japan with my daughters, I reeled from sticker shock: The cost of three round-trip business-class tickets to Tokyo on Continental was $18,000.

I called Continental to see if I could use frequent flyer miles but was told I didn't have enough to qualify. Then I called American Express, figuring that as a Platinum card member, I'd qualify for a free companion ticket if I bought a full-fare business-class ticket--only to discover that the price was twice as much as Continental charged.

After several hours, I found the most cost-effective solution: I bought three round-trip coach tickets on Continental and used frequent flyer miles and American Express rewards points to upgrade.

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