There are many loyalty programs out there for hotels, airlines, rental cars etc. Every loyalty program offers something different, so depending on your needs, determines which programs are right for you. In my post about hotel loyalty programs rewards charts, I talked about some of the best benefits from each program and that I only focus on several programs that fit my needs.
Which programs should you sign up for?
Well all of them. You might be a little confused right now because I just stated that I only focus on several programs, but I want you to sign up for all of them. The reason being, is that there are great benefits that come with signing up for loyalty programs. This doesn’t mean that you have to participate in all of the programs, just the ones you think will benefit you.
Earning miles and points
The first reason to sign up for loyalty programs is that you earn miles/points. You can redeem these miles/points for free flights, nights, upgrades, gift cards, etc. When you earn miles/points you can also earn qualifying miles/points, which leads to elite status and a whole bunch of perks.
Perks of being a member
The second reason is that you get special perks for just being a member. Some hotel programs gives you free things, nothing fancy though. For example, IHG gives you free weekday newspaper and late check out. Another perk worth mentioning is that when you sign up for rental car loyalty programs your information is stored. This lets you bypass the lines at the counter and go straight to your car at some rental pick-ups. As you move up the tiers of membership status you open up many better perks, such as upgrades, free breakfast, bonus miles/points, etc.
Updates on special offers
The third reason is staying in the loop. You will get regular offers such as flights for X amount of dollars on sale if you book by a certain date and travel by a certain date. You could also get offers like, stay at a certain hotel and earn X amount of bonus points for your stay. Staying in the loop helps when you are looking for deals to earn elite status or just earn cheap miles/points.
The fourth reason and most important reason is that you get better offers. When you sign up for a loyalty program you are put on that programs radar. This leads to getting targeted offers, which is typically better than public offers. For example I don’t collect Delta SkyMiles, but I signed up for their program anyway. I just let my account sit with no activity and I got a credit card offer for 50,000 miles with $1,000 spend in 3 months. On top of the sign up bonus I would get a $50 statement credit when making a Delta purchase within 3 months. Typically the public offer is 30,000 miles for spending $500 in 3 months. You can see all Delta offers on this Flyertalk thread.
I believe I received this offer because of poor utilization. I am not making them money, so they send me offers that will give me an incentive to spend my money with them. Some programs are totally random on who gets targeted offers and there is no guarantee that you will get a better targeted offer. There are also many stories like mine that people have gotten targeted offers for programs that they have not had recent activity in.
On Flyertalk there are threads also listing the best available offers that they have been targeted for. If you use that link they posted, you may be eligible for the same offer, even though you did not personally receive it. Though your miles may vary or YMMV as they say.
Keeping track of everything
Now signing up for all these programs sounds like it’s a lot of work and might be difficult to keep track of, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make a spreadsheet with your user name, account number and password for each program. Then sign up for AwardWallet and input all your loyalty program accounts there. AwardWallet is a free service which keeps track of all your loyalty programs and not just your travel programs. I mean all of them like Best Buy, Papa Johns, Ace, etc. It is an easy way to keep track of all your miles/points and they also offer a premium service for a small donation of your choice. This premium service is called AwardWallet plus and lasts for 6 months. With a plus account you get unlimited reminders of expiration notices and some other benefits not really worth mentioning. This is good to know so that you don’t lose your points from expiration, which I’ll cover later in another post on how to keep your miles/points from expiring.
Lastly if you do decide to sign up for a credit card with a loyalty program, always take the paper statements. Sure you will have more mail to shred, but you can always change that later when you receive a targeted offer of switching to paperless statements to earn bonus miles/points. If I left out any other reasons why you should sign up for loyalty programs please let me know in the comments below.
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