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Maximize airline miles

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(CNN) - Traveling is always expensive but there are some easy ways to save if you're smart about it.

If you travel mostly in the U.S., try smaller airlines like JetBlue and Virgin America. Those carriers offer points for the amount you spend instead of number of miles traveled. Plus, you can redeem these points for any seat on any flight.

If you frequently fly overseas, stick with carriers that have a global network. American Airlines will let you rack up miles from 11 of their international partners.

Another option: collect miles by opening an airline credit card. Common benefits include an initial bonus and double miles for flights you buy with the card. You can also get perks like airport lounge access and free checked baggage.

Airlines release their flight schedules 11 months before departure dates, so don't procrastinate. Planning ahead still proves to be the best way to save money. Booking flights early will also give you as many flight options as possible.