Daily Archives: February 21, 2013

Are Travel Reward Programs Worth It?

beyoned-the-stacks
Love to travel but not sure how to make the time or even afford it? Meet Kevin Post, CADL’s Outreach Librarian, who has a passion for travelling. Whether for work or fun, Kevin’s got some tips on the resources you can find at the library to help plan that next big trip.

Want to travel really cheap? How about free?

If you really want to save some dough while on the road, I suggest looking into loyalty programs. I know, I know, you’re thinking to yourself, ‘I don’t have time to keep up on travel points and airline miles!’ But the truth is it’s really easy. All you need is an email address and thirty minutes. Then there are websites that will do the work for you!

To really maximize your points/miles you really shouldn’t spread yourself too thin. So, rule numero uno: Pick a few companies with which you’ve had reliable good service and that do business in areas you frequent, and stick with them. But do join the programs of any company you use and switch your earning preferences to reflect your main programs — e.g. when I stay at a Hyatt, I have my earning preferences set to Delta Skymiles, not Hyatt Gold Passport points. It’s easy enough to change your account settings. This way I’m still earning miles while sleeping!

The next step is to sign up for one of the many programs that will monitor your rewards programs for you – usually for free. There are a few, but I use Awardwallet.com because it will track lots and lots of programs – even drugstores and gas stations. I also use Milewise.com. It monitors your points/miles and allows you to search for tickets. It is a metasite (remember those?) that will search and provide you with cash and point prices. It is a great way to know if you should use your precious points or just pay cash. – Please note that in my opinion Milewise.com does value points/miles on the high end, and it will take you a bit of time to enter your information when you sign up for an account. But you only have to do it once for most accounts.

A little effort goes a long way, a really long way. I have gone to Madrid, Paris, Montreal, and Mexico City all on frequent flyer tickets.

Also, remember: you shouldn’t be buying anything online without earning points/miles. Most reward programs offer ‘online shopping malls’ that will earn you a lot of points/miles on your everyday purchases. Usually these sites just redirect you to the merchant, so it’s just one extra click. These sites include: skymilesshopping.com and amtrakguestrewards.com/shopping among others.

Happy planning. Happier free travels.

- Kevin P., Outreach Librarian at CADL

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener