One of the exciting parts about traveling for business is getting to enjoy the accommodations. Whether it's a big comfy bed, an empty pool, Atari games, or just some peace and quiet, everyone has their preferences and the things that they look for in an accommodation. And if you frequently tend to stay at one hotel chain, you should be earning rewards for each visit.
Rewards can include upgrades on rooms, free WiFi, late check-out, and more. Here's how seasoned business travelers take advantage of hotel loyalty programs.
1. Earn points through various means.
This might be obvious, but if you aren't signed up to join their loyalty programs (usually they're free), consider doing so. You'll earn points for each stay. Depending on the hotel, you may get extra perks, all for essentially joining their free program.
If you can take it one step further, apply for one of their co-brand credit cards. Generally, some of the best hotel credit cards come with more points for your hotel purchases, free night certificates, and hotel status that comes with the ability to upgrade or check-out at a later time. Even better, these cards have benefits that clearly offset the card's annual fees.
Perhaps you feel that as nice as a hotel credit card sounds, you don't stay in one often enough to earn enough points. Fortunately, hotels have thought of that and offer cardholders the ability to earn more rewards. For example, the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card earns 25x points per $1 when you stay at IHG hotel plus it earns 2x points per $1 at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Speaking of restaurants and dining, if the hotel has a dining program, you can earn points for purchases you'd already be making. All you usually have to do is sign-up and link whatever card you are paying with (it doesn't have to be a credit card) to your account. Hilton, IHG, and Marriott all have dining programs.
2. Learn how much your points are worth.
Frustratingly, the hotel may decide to change the value of their points at any time. They also may not be worth as much as you'd hope. Sure, you've earned 70,000 points, but those points will only get you so many redemption options. For instance, reward nights at the World of Hyatt start at 5,000 and go up to 30,000 points.
It's a good idea to think about what you'd like to do with your points so you can get an idea when redeeming. This way, you know if you need to save your points for that business conference at the end of the year.
3. Follow social media and sign up for emails to learn about special promotions.
You don't have to do this religiously but keeping track of any promotions can help you earn a number of points that you otherwise may have missed. Note though that you often have to click on some sort of "enroll" button in order to sign up. If you're using a credit card to earn the points, you have to book and pay with the credit card, usually directly on the hotel's site.
4. Take advantage of the little-known card benefits.
To maximize your card experience, use the benefits that come with the card. If it's a Visa card, there are special Visa events that cardholders get access to like movies, chef experiences, and concerts that you may enjoy as you travel. Alternatively, you may impress some potential clients with tickets to an exciting event.
Also, if the card comes with primary travel insurance, forgo getting extra insurance protections (unless you think you may need it).
Some programs work with specific retailers to bring further savings and experiences to their program members. You may see that for the month of May, purchases at flowers.com earn additional points, so long as they use the appropriate link.
To get a better idea of what each program entails, check out their website or get the card issuer's app. Usually, those are two places where you can get a full idea of what benefits you have.