Years ago my family was in the travel business and trips were plentiful and if not free, close to it. The business was sold and with it were all of the benefits of owning a travel agency.
Fast forward to 2019. The thought of paying retail for travel is hard to digest so I have become a savvy traveler. It’s very similar to “extreme couponing” but instead of loading up on Tide or Charmin, I load up on points and miles.
Friends marvel when I tell them that a recent stay at a hotel cost me next to nothing. Or, the car rental was almost free. “How do you do it?” they ask.
Everyone is different and what I like when I travel may not be what will work best for you. Let me give you some basics. The keyword is LOYALTY. Pick an airline or two that you use the most and stick with them. Register and get a frequent flyer number. Sign up for their newsletters. Same holds true for hotel chains and car rental companies.
For starters, it takes a little bit of a commitment, some time and some focus. As you start making progress accumulating points it becomes a lot of fun! Points get me free airline tickets with JetBlue as well as upgrades and free hotel nights.
Right now I am enrolled in earning free car rental days with National, extra points with Hilton and free nights with Hyatt to name but a few.
I typically transfer American Express membership rewards points to JetBlue and Hilton. (Currently, Amex is offering 3 times the points for Hilton points.) It adds up quickly. If you don’t have enough Hilton points to get a free night you can use “cash and points.”
JetBlue even lets family members “pool” their accounts. This is simple to register for and the miles accrue quickly.
Another piece of advice is to sign up for branded credit cards. Most offer sign-up bonuses consisting of thousands of points/miles and extra points for using their credit card at the corresponding hotel or airlines.
Last year, Hyatt offered two free nights (anywhere in the world) when you signed up for their credit card and met the minimum spend. As a result, we stayed at the Park Hyatt in NYC on West 57th Street. The rate of the room was $875 a night. Our cost? $0
Many of the legacy airlines have a shopping portal that links your account to purchases made at hundreds of popular online sites. If you are shopping online you might as well earn the miles that are yours for the taking.
When I asked my friends, who I know stay at Hilton hotels, if they registered for a promotion, the most common answer I got was, ”I zapped the e-mail.” When I hear that, I hear the sound of crisp dollar bills being ripped up.
Every couple of days you should log on to each of these websites for promotions. In most cases, all you have to do is type in your account number or e-mail address. It’s very easy.
So here are your 2019 New Years’ Travel Resolutions:
- Sign up for frequent flyer accounts
- Register with car rental companies and hotels
- Read the e-mails they send you
- Enter their contests
- Follow your favorite airlines and hotels on social media for unannounced promotions
The year is off to a good start!
Let me know how you’re doing! Really, you can email me: Terri@SouthFloridaReporter.com