This is the summer of leisure travel, with such passengers primarily responsible for the rebound seen in air travel. While you're catching up on the trips you missed out on during the pandemic, there is no better time to join the points and miles game and collect the rewards issued by travel companies. As each brand is vying for your business, the opportunities to be rewarded are many.
EARN AS YOU TRAVEL
To get started on your points and miles journey, create an account with any airline or hotel you will patronize this year. Then, book your reservation directly on their website and ensure your account number is connected to your reservation. This will guarantee you receive all the benefits and rewards you're due during and after traveling.
CREDIT CARD POINTS AND MILES
When your holiday ends, the chances to earn points and miles are just beginning if you have the right credit card. If you plan on being loyal to a specific hotel or airline, consider applying for that brand's credit card.
Doing so before you book your vacation will get you the largest reward on your trip. But even afterward, most cards offer at least one point or mile on all purchases. Every little bit counts and adds up to a free night or flight.
As a new cardholder, you'll be eligible for a potentially massive sign-on bonus. Sometimes you can get more than 100,000 miles just for signing up and meeting a spend threshold. This is more than enough for immediate redemption.
TIPS TO MAXIMIZE YOUR EARNINGS
Outside of choosing a co-branded card, look for one with earning multipliers on categories you frequently spend in. Some cards offer three, four, or even five points or miles per dollar spent in categories like dining, groceries, or fuel purchases.
A BOOST IN 2021
While collecting points and miles is great, having elite status is better. Status comes with perks like upgraded seats or rooms, earning points at a higher rate, and lounge access.
With limited business travel happening this year, airlines and hotels have made it easier for leisure travelers to achieve status. To achieve status, you usually have to take so many flights or stay so many nights at a hotel, among other requirements. However, this year, for example, both United Airlines and Hyatt have significantly reduced the entry-level requirements. United Airlines status can be had after four flights instead of eight, plus a spend requirement, and Hyatt status can be had after five nights instead of ten.
Before these promotions end, be sure you are signed up for email updates from your favorite hotel and airline. While not usually this sweet, new promotions are typically announced quarterly.
Even though you didn't directly buy your points or miles, they cost you something. You could have used a cashback credit card instead and received at least 2% cashback. On a $100 purchase, that's $2.
With that in mind, when you redeem your miles, you want to make sure you are at least getting two cents out of each point or mile saved. For example, if faced with spending 25,000 miles for a $500 flight or a $100 toaster, the former reward is much better.
In the first scenario, you are redeeming at a rate of two cents per mile ($500/25,000 = $0.02). For the toaster, you don't even get one cent back per mile. Redeeming for magazines, luggage, and small appliances are usually bad choices, whereas saving for international flights or $400+ per night hotel rooms are likely better deals.