One of the perks of business travel is accumulating points and miles that become elite loyalty status. Having elite status earns you things like upgrades on flights and access to airport lounges, late check-out and room upgrades at hotels, and generally more flexibility and ease in your travels. So if you aren't traveling, what can you do to keep your airline and hotel status and rewards?
Fortunately, most hotels and airlines have extended and modified their policies to give members the opportunity to keep their status until it is safe to travel again. However, if you have a co-branded credit card with a hotel or airline, your miles and points may still be up for expiration. Usually, you have to redeem your miles within a certain amount of time (typically between 12-36 months).
Because the situation is fluid and there have been many policy amendments, it's a good idea to check your account to see when exactly your points and miles expire. If your miles or points are in jeopardy, the good news is there are a few things you can do that don't require travel. Here's how to keep your accounts active.
Use your card to make a purchase
The easiest way to show account activity is to make a purchase on your card. Aside from Singapore Airlines whose miles expire after 36 months from the month they are earned and are not renewed with new miles, most accounts remain active if account activity is shown. If the account is in good standing, your miles and points should be okay.
Additionally, some cards already earn extra points for frequent purchases like at grocery stores or for gas. Whatever you decide to purchase, be sure you can pay for it in full before the next card statement to show responsibility in your account and on your credit score.
One of the easiest ways to keep your account active is to participate in a hotel or airline dining rewards program. Most major airlines have a program that is free to join. All you need to do is signup and connect a credit or debit card.
Once you're connected, order from a participating restaurant nationwide and pay for your food pickup or delivery with your registered card. You'll earn points or miles for every dollar spent.
Use shopping portals
If you usually shop online, you can earn extra points or miles by going through a shopping portal first. Most of the major airlines have one that you can signup to use, similar to the dining program signup. Here are some of the portals:
Unfortunately, hotels don't have as many options for shopping or dining programs. Note that there may also be special offers such as switching internet providers or signing up for identity theft protection that earn a substantial amount of points or miles. Check your account for these offers.
One way to show account activity and help others during this pandemic is to donate your points or miles. Usually, when you redeem your miles or points, your account updates.
For example, through June 30, 2020, United is matching all coronavirus related donations (any charity with a blue heart next to it qualifies), up to 500,000 miles. So if you've got a United credit card, you can help several organizations while maintaining your account. United, along with American Airlines, Delta, and Southwest also have partnerships with the Red Cross.
Another charitable option is to buy gift cards with points or miles and donate them to charities in need. You can even donate to your local food bank with Charity Choice. However, gift cards don't have the best redemption rates, so you may want to try the airline or hotel's charity giving programs to make your miles and points go further.
You may also buy miles or points to show account activity. Because travel is on hold, several businesses have been offering specials on miles or points purchases. However, be wary about purchases as we don't know when we'll be able to safely travel again. Plus, some hotels and airlines may go bust before then.
You can also repurchase and reinstate lost points or miles. But unless you've lost a significant amount, the price may not worth it.