The Ins and Outs of Using Loyalty to Travel With Pets

The keys to racking up loyalty rewards while on the road with your pet

Portrait Of Dog In Luggage At Airport
Benjamin Spann / EyeEm/ Getty Images

For many, the thought of leaving behind their pets while traveling is too much to bear. After all, pets are considered members of the family. My friend Teresa is no different. A few days ago, she decided to bring Charlie – her three-year-old golden retriever – on an upcoming hiking trip to Colorado. Having traveled with friends and their pets a few times myself, I gave Teresa some tips on how she could cut costs and rack up loyalty miles and points while bringing her furry friend along for the adventure.

Book Airfare and Hotels With a Rewards Credit Card

While most airlines and hotels allow pets, you’ll likely have a hard time finding a hotel or airline that doesn’t charge fees for bringing one along on your trip. Both American and Delta Airlines tack on $125 each way for bringing your pet on board in a kennel while major hotel chains, such as Hilton and Hyatt, will charge a cleaning fee that typically runs about $75. Unfortunately, hotel and airline loyalty programs don’t often include pet fees as a way to redeem your hard-earned miles and points.

Now for the good news – credit card rewards can easily reduce hefty pet fees. The Platinum Card from American Express will send you a $200 rebate each year for incidental fees charged by an airline. This includes everything from checked baggage and phone reservation costs to pet fees. Just select American Airlines as your rebate partner before booking the flight. Even without a rebate, you can still earn enough miles and points from pet fees to help offset their cost. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card will reward you with two points for every dollar you spend on airfare and hotel stays.

When it comes to taking advantage of these savings, timing is everything. Many airlines limit the number of pets they allow on each flight, meaning you should secure a spot sooner rather than later. Alaska Airlines, for example, can only accommodate one pet carrier in the first class cabin of a flight in addition to a maximum of five pet carriers in the main cabin. Prior to finalizing your travel plans, get in touch with an airline representative to confirm you won’t be flying solo.

Stock Up on Pet Supplies

From weather delays to mechanical problems, air travel can be anything but predictable. If you plan on bringing along your cat, dog or another pet, pack your carry-on luggage with water, food, and toys so that your pet is well taken care of during the entire flight. Not only will the extra supplies come in handy as you sit on the tarmac or wait for luggage to arrive, but if you use your travel rewards credit card to buy the supplies, they can also help you rack up some serious miles and points in no time.

With the Hilton HHonors Card from American Express, you can earn five times the points for pet supply purchases at grocery stores and supermarkets. If you’re in a hurry on your way to the airport, you can use the Ink Cash Business Card from Chase to collect two points for every dollar you spend on pet supplies at a gas station.

Staying prepared for anything and everything that comes your way will also prove helpful as you check into a hotel. Touted as the industry-leader in pet-friendly lodging, Kimpton Hotels provide guests with a wide range of amenities, including plush pet beds, food, water bowls, and mats. No matter where you’re staying, call ahead to find out what pet supplies you need to pick up before starting your trip. Buying all the essentials ahead of time will make for a more enjoyable vacation as well as a larger loyalty miles and points balance.

I’ve highlighted just a few of the ways in which you can earn miles and points while traveling with your pet. Stay on the lookout for more offers from your top loyalty programs before finalizing any travel plans.