All FFPs have different procedures for redeeming miles. While some carriers issue vouchers or certificates that entitle the holder to a free flight, others simply issue tickets. Almost all airlines now allow members to redeem online. However, you can redeem it over the phone or in person too. Each airline has a level / category for redemption based on distance or price – the required air miles will correspond to these categories.
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To know how much you earn for a sector and how much you need to redeem for an award flight / free ticket, you just head over to their website – many have a mileage calculator which will give you the miles required for redemption.
Say, you have registered with the airlines I mentioned above for Star Alliance and you have earned miles from Citibank Premier Miles card. Now Citibank Premier Miles allows you to redeem the miles at Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer among other airlines (the list is updated regularly, so you need to watch out). You just call the dedicated Help Desk for Premier Miles (you are a Platinum card holder remember? ) and tell them to transfer the miles. It may take 4-5 working days for your miles to show up. When the miles are credited you can login to your KrisFlyer account and verify it. Now, if you need to fly to any destination in Asia-Pacific (as far as Australia and New Zealand), then it goes without saying that you should redeem those miles on Singapore Airlines and fly in comfort. But, if you need to fly to say Turkey or Greece, then when you login to your Turkish Airlines account, you go through the normal search and booking process at which point you will be asked about your frequent flyer account number from Star Alliance member airline (in this case it is Singapore Airlines.
KrisFlyer number). So you enter that and the system will compute the balance you need to pay after taking into account the miles. Some airlines however insist on you calling them or faxing them a letter for award flights! So you need to be careful while selecting your favourite airline.