I am going to share a short series on here aimed at new employees of my firm MRA. Learning how to make the most out of road life is hard. Most of this we figured out the hard way. While these posts are focused on how my fellow employees can maximize benefits any one can take a little of this away. The way our budgets works makes some of this proprietary.
The first and biggest tip is to sign up for every hotel rewards program, this is easily done the first time you book at a particular chain. Don’t let any points pass you by. When you sign up (can be done during the reservation process) you will either be given the option to create a username and password then or sent an email with instructions. We are all issued smartphones and a very effective way to keep track of these member numbers, usernames, and passwords is in the notes application on your phone.
Hilton Honors – 4181749, firstname.lastname@example.org, MRAru1es
Many of these rewards programs offer special bonuses throughout the year. Signing up to receive these emails and making sure you activate the offer can skyrocket your rewards.
Example: Hilton Honors offered 2000 bonus points for all weekend stays.
While there are great benefits to using one brand over another, gaining status at certain brands includes upgrades and freebies, seeking to only stay at one brand is against company policy. Don’t make a habit of going off route of staying far from event sites just to make Diamond status, that will lead to reprimand.
MRA has discount rates with some chains, you can find that information in your employee handbook.
If you have AARP, AAA or any other discount program yourself, use them. It could be the difference between a 2-star and 3-star stay. You are not reimbursed for these memberships but the cost can be viewed as gaining a more comfortable lifestyle.
The reward points can often be used for more than hotel stays. Choice Privileges allows you to purchase gift cards with your points. It would be good to take some time and note what you can use and what expires.
Lastly you can make the decision about what points you earn. For exaplme I want my Hilton Honors points but my Best Western Rewards go to airline miles. We don’t stay at enough Best Westerns for them to add up but the Airline points help with vacations.
The same goes for signing up for reward program, however you will not get the same benefits.
Airline reward points expire more often and are harder to use on “other” items. Try to be proactive in checking and find ways to spend your points. Think outside the box, like using points to purchase a magazine subscription for someone as a thank you or even donating them to charity. I give my in-laws magazine renewals for all the little things they help us with.
While many rental car firms have membership programs, they do not all offer reward points. These are simply ease of use programs. While this does not seam like a huge benefit, being about to pull up receipts quickly is.
Signing up for Staples and Best Buy Rewards can also be another way to see a little extra money in your pocket. Keep an eye out for things like this when making purchases for your tours.
The biggest kept secret to gaining extra benefits on the road is using a pass-through site like eBates or Fatwallet. These sites give you a cash percentage of the money spent just by shopping through them. While this is an extra step in all your bookings it pays. Get in the habit of looking at the pass through site before you make a purchase. Hotels, cars, airlines and retail outlets all offer a percentage back. It can really add up. With hotels you will need to do the entire reservation from the pass through but with many retail stores you can shop, fill a cart and then go to the pass though before the final purchase. Feel free to sign up with this link.
You will now be making a larger number of daily purchases, think about the amount spent on food. These are personal expenses. Look into a personal credit card that can give you cash back, reward points or some other kind of advantage. Paying it off monthly will give you the rewards and keep you with a good credit score, something a bit tough when you are moving.
Overview – the main benefit for signing up for reward programs is to gain some sort of financial benefit but you also get ease of use. Having a username with saved info saves you time and effort.
***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***