Using Travel Loyalty to Make the Most of the Rio Summer Games

From the opening and closing ceremonies to the competition between top athletes from more than 200 different countries, the 2016 Summer Games promise to make Rio de Janeiro a top travel destination this August. In fact, the International Olympic Committee predicts nearly 500,000 tourists will travel to the city to take in the games. Having talked to some of my friends about the amazing experiences they had while visiting London during the 2012 Summer Games, seeing the action live and in person  – either at the Summer Games or Winter Games – is definitely on my bucket list.

Why wait another four years for your chance?

By following the following three tips for tapping into your travel loyalty rewards during the 2016 Summer Games, you can enjoy the glitz and glamour of the world’s biggest sporting spectacle without breaking the bank.

Book ahead of time

By the time August rolls around, hotel prices in Rio de Janeiro are expected to be about three times higher than the same period last year. If you haven’t already, book your travel plans as soon as possible to avoid additional price spikes in the coming weeks and months.

Most airlines make mileage tickets available months ahead of time – allowing you to save hundreds of dollars in the process. With American Airlines AAdvantage and Delta SkyMiles, you can secure an award seat 331 days in advance. The same policy applies to hotel travel rewards programs such as the Hyatt Gold Passport, which gives you the opportunity to book a room 13 months – or 395 days – before your stay.

While it’s already weeks away from the 2016 Summer Games, the earlier you book, the better when it comes to securing reasonable prices on airfares and hotel stays. Setting your exact itinerary for a trip months in advance can be tough, but the savings will more than make up for it.

Add a stopover

Travel loyalty rewards are all about seeing the world while saving as much money or redeeming as many rewards as possible.

Stopovers can help you do just that. Rather than flying directly to Rio de Janeiro, a stopover gives you the opportunity to take in the sights and sounds of another city for at least 24 hours before traveling to your final destination. Best of all, stopovers are often free or at the very least heavily discounted.

Members of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan loyalty program can include one complimentary stopover for both the outbound and return portions of their award travel on international itineraries. Just be sure the stopover is booked with Alaska Airlines or one of its many partners. Yet another way you can extend your trip for little to no cost is by booking through Singapore Airlines. Not only do you receive a free stopover with each round trip ticket, but you can also purchase additional stopovers for only $100.

Keep your transportation options open

Once you’ve finally landed in Rio de Janeiro, the next step is finding your way around the Summer Games. From taxis to trains, there are a number of different options you can choose between to collect loyalty rewards as you travel. With a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can earn twice as many Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a wide range of travel expenses, including rental cars and public transportation.

In a similar fashion, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card will reward you with three ThankYou points for every dollar you spend on gas, car rental agencies, railways, public transportation, tolls, taxis, parking and more. But while the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card doesn’t include any foreign transaction fees, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card will charge you three percent for each transaction.

For those of you who have grown accustomed to using Uber to get from point A to point B, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard will help you earn a five percent miles dividend every time you hop in the ride-sharing service. No foreign transaction fees means you won’t have to worry about losing valuable miles that can go toward a free flight or hotel stay.

By following one or more of these tips, you’ll have a golden opportunity to enjoy a memorable vacation in Rio.