Boost your know-how (and reap the rewards) with these simple steps
- Last Updated: 5:26 PM, February 10, 2012
- Posted: 3:25 PM, January 16, 2012
Say you were a plumber and you showed up for work without the proper tools. Ridiculous, right? So why do so many people travel blind, throwing money at airlines, hotels and rental car companies, without really knowing what they’re doing? Okay, you think to yourself, I’d be more skilled if I, for instance, traveled more. Well, here’s a tip: You’d travel more, maybe, if you did it right — making sure every penny went towards, for instance, more travel. Luckily, it’s never too late to get started — here are a few must-do’s that’ll get you on the right path.
#1 Don’t fly another mile without signing up for a frequent flier program. How often do you travel? More than once a year? Are you earning points as a member of a frequent flyer program? If not, start. Sure, these programs aren’t what they used to be, but this isn’t a walk down memory lane — we’re talking about today. And the future. A future involving free flights. Which airline to choose? Don’t get distracted by bells and whistles. No, what you want is an airline with a ton of service out of your home market and one that’s part of a global network. Sign up and be loyal — the results may surprise you.
#2 Stop behaving like a 16-year-old when it comes to hotels. You know what those hotels that look real pretty on the pages of a glossy magazine are good for? Looking pretty on the pages of a glossy magazine. How about we make this the year we start acting like adults? Join a hotel rewards program and start banking points for every stay. This doesn’t mean spending the rest of your life staying at the Marriott (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It simply means stop throwing money at hotels that don’t give you anything back. For example, joining the Starwood Preferred Guest program means you reap rewards from stays at W and Aloft brand hotels, as well as their network of Luxury Collection properties — rewards that can be redeemed for everything from future stays to flights and other travel awesomeness.
#3 Switch credit cards to those that give you travel points. Whether it’s British Airways or Hilton or whatever brand you choose, every dollar you put on a credit card should be earning you points towards those programs. It’s that simple. Pretty much every airline and hotel chain has them. Get one. Maybe even get two — one for your airline, one for your preferred hotel chain. Then watch the rewards rack up. Best of all, many of them have great signing bonuses, from free flights to a ton of points, to complimentary hotel stays and much more. Two things to watch for, though: Make sure there isn’t an overly steep annual fee for the card; also, as with any credit card, check and see if there are potentially prohibitive costs involved when using the card overseas.