I’ve done my fair share of business travel and have learned that along with those lengthy plane rides and corporate hotel stays comes the potential to rack up some serious loyalty rewards.
Business travelers can take advantage and maximize their loyalty rewards for some much-needed vacation by racking up points and miles throughout their trip and spending them down the road on personal travel. Here are my tips for building up points, miles and rewards on your business trips, and helping you go from work to play.
Earn your points and miles, and spend elsewhere
A growing number of hotel and airline loyalty programs are offering the option for their members to earn points and miles within one program, yet spend in another. Additionally, programs are expanding their loyalty currency redemption outside of their industry, such as turning points earned on hotel stays into miles for flights. This is great news for travelers, as you are no longer limited to spending your points and miles within the same programs you earn in. And especially for business travelers, flexible loyalty currencies can come in handy when you stay at a hotel chain you might not consider for a personal trip, or when flying on an airline that’s too expensive to book for the whole family.
For example, Hilton HHonors members can earn rewards miles at partner airlines by staying at a Hilton property. Consider booking your next set of business accommodations with Hilton so you can put those points earned toward a fight on Delta or United. Or, tap into programs such as American Airlines, which rewards its AAdvantage members with miles after making everyday purchases like picking up groceries or when dining out. Specifically, business travelers who frequently eat out on work trips should take note of the AAdvantage Dining Program, where you can register up to six credit cards and earn bonus miles each time you pay your bill. Not to mention new members that sign up and dine receive a new member bonus.
Stockpile your credit card rewards
We’re familiar with sifting through credit card statements and filing expense reports for reimbursement from our business trips. So why not make all that work worthwhile? If possible, consider paying your business travel costs with your personal credit card. This way, you can rack up rewards, points and miles when you’re out at a company dinner or booking a flight to your annual meeting. And while some companies might have policies in place requiring you to use a company card, you can typically get reimbursed for occasional purchases made with your own card while traveling for work.
For starters, sign up for cards that have strong enrollment incentives, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which offers some of the highest sign-up bonuses out there. New Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus points when they spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. That's $625 in points you can turn around and redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards. And keep in mind what kind of rewards you’re looking to earn. For example, if you want to earn more airline miles for your next family vacation, consider signing up for an airline-specific credit card. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card from American Express offers two miles for every purchase made directly with Delta, and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Card offers cardholders 6,000 anniversary points on their enrollment anniversary. That’s a lot of miles you can earn on business flights.
Add on vacation time to your business trips
When in doubt, piggybacking your vacation on your next business trip is an easy way to jump into personal and family time post-work travel. In fact, three in five business travelers add leisure vacations onto their business trips. Take advantage of special promotions which offer you free nights stays after previous bookings – like Choice Hotels and Marriott – who give a free night after booking a two-night stay at their properties. Time your business trip correctly and you'll be set for a seamless transition from work to play.
Booking hotels and flights for work can pay off when you cash in your rewards for personal and family travel. Focus on spending your points through the same brands to make sure your loyalty is maximized. And do your research to find out which credit cards, brands and loyalty programs have the best offerings when it comes to travel rewards. Even if you travel infrequently for work, just one or two business trips a year can add up to a discounted plane ticket or a free hotel stay if you play your rewards cards right. Now, who’s ready to get to work on racking up rewards?