Travel costs seem to increase every day. Travelers who travel frequently and favor one airline or hotel chain can save money. They accomplish this by participating in a travel rewards program. In addition to saving money, a rewards program can be used on several types of travel. Each travel rewards program has its own rules and each has pros and cons.
In general, travel rewards points are exchangeable for airline travel, hotel nights or merchandise offers from the program. Some programs also have discounts to entice more hotel nights from their members and some also offer car rental benefits. Most programs introduce new benefits each year, in an attempt to sway travelers that are members of other programs. Some have offered travel insurance as a special benefit too, but you would do better to purchase trip insurance yourself.
Some travel rewards programs are presented together with a bank but usually have annual fees. Other programs are really buyer programs that include travel benefits. The travel reward credit cards with fees seem to offer more points for each mile flown or nights stayed consecutively. While this appears to be a strong pro point for these programs, it turns out that the more points offered per travel event, the more difficult it is to exchange the points gained into useable travel. Travel loyalty programs that have fewer restrictions on use of the points invariably award fewer points per travel event.
Overall, the pros and cons of the various travel rewards programs and credit cards could fairly be said to be balanced. The key to your success in using these programs is to review the restrictions of each program and choose the travel rewards point program that fits your travel profile the best.
For example, if you fly often but rarely stay in hotels at your destinations, a program that is predominantly for using points for future airline travel might be best for you. Ask other travelers about the plan you are considering. You will find that some airlines are well known for having few seats on each flight that can be used by travel rewards members.
For consumers that do a lot of shopping with credit cards, a buyer’s travel reward program could be considered a good program to try. Frequent buyer programs offer airline travel, hotel stays and discounts on merchandise. They also tend to have fewer dates that are blacked out or any limitations of seats per flight. The bottom line is, as always, buyers beware. Make sure your travel rewards program is not too restrictive for your needs.