This blog post was updated on July 9, 2021.
After a weeklong trip across Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, I was checking in to a number of hotels. In the process, I was hoping that I was racking up all of these rewards for the different programs of which I am a part. Once I arrived back home, I decided to do a bit of digging around to see how my travel rewards were fairing across all of these outlets. I theorized that surely I was gaining ground on hotel stays and airline miles. Little did I know but my travel rewards were in shambles. I wasn’t taking advantage of added benefits. I was spreading my travel dollars across too many different rewards programs.
Travelers can get tunnel vision when it comes to rewards programs, from hotel rewards to mileage programs. We might think they are all helping us toward free travel, but that isn’t always the case if you aren’t managing them properly. Don’t make these mistakes with your travel reward programs.
You Lack Focus: If you travel frequently, you will find nearly every company, hotel and business has some sort of rewards program. Most of us want to join as many of these rewards programs as we can to reap the benefits. However, you can spread yourself too thin when it comes to travel rewards. For example, you might sign up for several different hotel chain rewards programs. If you stay at one type of hotel here and another there, your rewards aren’t necessarily adding up. In most cases, to benefit from reward programs, you need to be using that set brand whenever you book a flight or a hotel. You can’t really dabble in different hotel reward programs and expect to gain much ground. In order to avoid this lack of focus, try limiting the reward programs that you do sign up for such as one car rental, one airline and one hotel group rewards programs.
You’re Missing Out on Benefits and Don’t Know It: Travel rewards are no longer just one-dimensional. You don’t merely earn points for free stays or miles for flights. Rather, most travel rewards programs involve several means to benefit from a hotel stay, car rental or a flight. For example, I did some digging around on one of my hotel rewards programs. I noticed that I could sync up that program with one of my airline mileage programs. While earning hotel points all this time for free stays, I also could have been earning miles too. If you have several travel rewards programs lined up, it is worth your time to do a bit of research on what benefits are available to you. You might be missing out on miles or other freebies and not even know it.
You’re Paying Too Much: Most travel reward programs are free to join, as is the case with hotels, rental cars and airline mileage programs. However, some travel rewards programs come by way of a credit card. If you have a credit card that yields travel rewards, you might be paying an annual fee for that card and its benefits. Even if you think this fee is worth the price, you might not have crunched the numbers to actually see if it is. For example, if you only get one domestic flight out of your travel reward card a year, you should subtract the cost saved on a free ticket from the annual fee. If you are still in the whole, it might be time to seek out a travel reward program that doesn’t make you pay as much or at all to capitalize on rewards.