Frequent flyer programs
There are many programs out there and keeping track of the points can be a chore. A good rule is to stick with one or two airlines or use airlines that are part of a larger group so you can use points accumulated across multiple airlines. Be aware though that airline points accumulated flying on one airline may not be applied in an equivalent manner across all partners.
If you check the rules or try and use points with your chosen airline you’ll quickly find that many of the partner points are applied in a tiered manner. Meaning they may only be worth 50% or less depending on the partner. And, the points lose value depending on which type of seat you select. Add to this mix that fact that there are airlines that put a deadline on when points must be used and you can have a real problem.
There is a movement to apply points based on how much you paid for the ticket so business class receives a higher value than those flying coach. It’s about the perceived or actual value of specific customer classes. I can’t say for certain that one group of airlines is better than another, but my suggestion is to stick with a particular group. Also be aware that not all points you earn will be honored forever, some have expiration so read the fine print. Remember that the airlines are in the business of making money, not flying you around the world for free. The landscape changes frequently so don’t take anyone’s word for it, read the program rules. This can involve some work on your part but everything has a cost right? And, like your parents said, there is no free lunch.