You Should Sign Up for Travel Loyalty Programs (Even If You Don’t Travel Often)

You Should Sign Up for Travel Loyalty Programs (Even If You Don’t Travel Often)

Most frequent flyers are well-acquainted with airline and hotel loyalty programs. But if you don’t travel often, or if you have to book a flight, stay, or car rental with a company you don’t typically use, you may not think to sign up for rewards membership (even if it’s free).

Sure, you do have to create an account and remember to book reservations under your membership, but as The Points Guy points out, these extra steps can be worthwhile to receive some basic benefits—at no cost—when you travel. While you won’t get the perks reserved for those who travel often enough to earn elite status, if an airline, hotel, or rental car company has a loyalty program, you’ll still save a little bit of money and time as a basic member.

Rewards accrual and pooling

The main reason to join travel loyalty programs is to earn points and miles, which can be redeemed for future travel as well as other benefits and savings if you don’t have a big enough balance for another flight or don’t use the airline or hotel often. Most airlines offer better mileage accrual rates to basic members than non-members, and many also allow you to pool your miles with family and friends for better redemption options. British Airways, Emirates, JetBlue, and United allow mileage pooling. Finally, you can take advantage of mileage transfers to partner airlines (and via credit card rewards) and earn points off other purchases (such as Lyft rides when you connect your Delta SkyMiles account).

Hotel rewards programs may seem even less worthwhile than airline loyalty memberships that net you points and miles, but many operate the same way in terms of accruing points toward future stays and improved status. Many hotel brands offer more points earned per dollar spent to members of loyalty programs, and some even offer pooling.

Finally, rental car rewards members generally get points with each booking, which can be used toward discounted or free rentals.

Priority check-in and boarding

Some airline loyalty programs offer the ability to cut the lines during check-in and boarding (as well as customer service calls), which can save time on busy travel days and ensure you get overhead bin space for your carry-on bag. For example, American Airlines AAdvantage puts basic members in Group 6 of 9 for boarding, and British Airways Executive Club members are allowed free seat selection up to 24 hours before departure. JetBlue TrueBlue members can earn early boarding as well.

Free in-flight wifi and perks

Delta Air Lines SkyMiles members get free wifi on most domestic flights, with service expected to be expanded to regional and international routes later this year. Singapore Airlines and Emirates also offer in-flight wifi discounts to rewards members, and Singapore Airlines has discounted baggage and seat selection fees.

Waived wifi and resort fees

Basic members of hotel loyalty programs may also be eligible for free wifi and waived resort fees with complimentary access to property amenities. All Hilton Honors, IHG One Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt, and Wyndham Rewards members are eligible for these perks where applicable.

Early hotel check-in/late checkout

Crashing early on arrival day or sleeping in late on departure day can help your hotel stay work for your itinerary. Members of Accor Live Limitless get priority check-in at Fairmont properties; IHG One Rewards members receive 2 p.m. late checkout; and Preferred Hotels & Resorts members get both (when available). Hilton Honors members can check in via app and select their room.

Expedited rental car check-in

The best perk of a rental car rewards membership is the ability to skip the line at check-in, which can save a lot of time at busy airport counters. Hertz Gold Plus Rewards basic members can also choose their preferred car, and National Car Rental Emerald Club members can select any vehicle available on the lot with a midsize reservation.


The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

Here are the cheapest plans available for Australia’s most popular NBN speed tier.

At Lifehacker, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

Comments


Leave a Reply