I'll give you two options: option A, you do tons of research, option B, someone does it all for you, presenting you with an easy to understand explanation of your travel needs. There are some tools floating around out there eliminating the need for calculators, side by side chart comparisons and fancy frequent flyer email addresses...
The only thing better than earning elite status with an airline or hotel, is turning that status into complimentary status with all their competitors. Hey, you never know when you'll need it. StatusMatcher.com is an incredible resource and community, giving first hand updates on all the programs that are offering matches or challenges, information for requesting one, and whether other travelers were approved, denied or offered a different opportunity. You'll know everything you need to get the status you're looking for!
Where To Credit?
Of course you know to always earn miles, and of course you know that you don't have to earn miles from the airline you're flying on, you have choices. WhereToCredit.com takes all the guess work out of which frequent flyer program to choose when you're flying on an airline, showing you what percentage of miles and elite credit you'll receive on every possible airline you could earn from, whoever you're flying on. The site won't take into account your elite status, so if you have status with an airline, you of course know that you likely will get an additional bonus. Just be mindful of that...
Which Miles To Use?
It's hugely important to understand that not every airline requires the same amount of miles or taxes for a flight to or from the same places. Some airlines are in fact much better, or much worse than others and it can totally change from cabin to cabin. Milez.biz acts as one of the best comparison tools, allowing you to plug in a flight search and see how many miles each different airline would charge. If you have miles from a few different programs, or are figuring out which program to bank your miles to for an upcoming free flight, this is your stop to figure out the best deal. I love a good deal.