Travelers and Wanderers around the Universe

Monday, December 29, 2014

Can You Save Money With a Travel Loyalty Card or Program? Make Sure You Do Your Homework


People everywhere want to know how they can save money and still take the trips that they want to take. Hotels and resorts help to lure you into planning and taking more trips with the use of loyalty cards and programs. These programs promise that you can earn discounted rates and free stays in hotels around the world when you travel. Before you plan your trip around the hotels that take part in one of these programs, you need to understand how the programs work and if you really can save money.

Types of Loyalty Programs

There are two primary forms of loyalty programs. The first is a program that only works within a certain chain or franchise, and the other program has partnerships in place with other travel companies. You earn a certain number of points for each night that you stay in the hotel, which you can trade in for free nights. If you enroll in a partnership program, you earn points every time that you book a flight, rent a car or purchase tickets to a certain attraction. 

How it Works

Travel loyalty programs rely on a points system. Though you do earn points for each night that you stay in a hotel, you might find that the chain determines the number of points based on both when and where you stay. Spending a weekend in an expensive hotel in a popular resort hotel will earn you more points than if you stayed in a smaller hotel on a weeknight in your own city. You may also receive points when you book other arrangements with partner companies, but you'll typically earn less points that you would staying in one of the chain's hotels.

Can You Really Save?

While you can save when you become a member of a travel loyalty club, you typically won't save nearly as much as you might hope. It can take several weeks of staying in a hotel before you earn a single free night, and most clubs have blackout dates. You cannot use your free nights on any blackout date. Blackout dates typically include holidays, dates on or around popular events and some weekends. Some loyalty clubs offer additional discounts, but other clubs require that you pay full price for your rooms to earn any points.

Other Options

Enrolling in a travel loyalty club isn't the only way that you can save on your travel arrangements. Booking a package vacation is one option. A package vacation usually includes transportation to your destination, a hotel room and even tickets to popular attractions. Another option is a resort vacation. For example, a Bluegreen Resorts vacation offers more amenities and activities than most hotels do. You might have access to a state of the art fitness center with personal trainers and classes available, a day spa, hiking, tours of wild animal centers and other activities that will keep your whole family entertained.

Travel loyalty clubs have a number of benefits for frequent travelers. If you only travel a few times a year for work or pleasure, you might find that these programs offer few benefits for you and that you would do better with a travel package or a resort vacation.

19 travelers' comments:

Russ R. said...

Loyalty clubs & cards work for me ( I prefer them over points ) because if it's something that I frequent or use often, I don't feel obliged to spend or do a repeat purchase and at the same time I don't see that I am being rushed into something. I've had a lot of free stuff from my loyalty clubs + cards :)

Melissa Pezza said...

I've been researching travel rewards programs lately. You've really got to do your homework. Some of them are next to useless!

Lisa Codina said...

I love the idea of earning points for travel...I traveled quite a lot when I was younger but not so much now! I wish I had started accumulating points back then!

Audrey said...

We have a little bit of both. We do quite a bit of traveling and have points programs set up for airlines that we fly all the time and then points from our AmEx which can be turned into travel (hotel/airline), clothes, or tech gadgets. You definitely have to look into programs so that you get the most bang for your buck!

Jennifer Juro said...

We don't travel much out side of our home state with the kids. These are great programs I have used Groupon for hotel deals before we when we have traveled.

CourtneyLynne said...

I remember years ago, when I first turned 18 airline loyalty clubs use to be awesome!!! I was a world travel wanderlust for many years and would earn so many free tickets. Nowadays the program's all kinda suck :-/ it would take years to earn one ticket lol...

Masshole Mommy said...

You can definitely save, but I think you have to know exactly how the system works and follow the rules. Otherwise, they are great.

Bonnie Gowen said...

I've never belonged to any type of Loyalty programs when it comes to travel but I would definitely do my homework before hand. Thanks for the informational post. =)

Michele D said...

Great way to save some money. I will have to check this out since I plan on flying on vacation soon.

Ann B said...

I love my cards that offer rewards. Traveling can be expensive. Saving money using the programs is a great idea.

Beth Williams said...

I love having rewards cards for travel. It really does save a lot of money!

Krystal Butherus said...

I've never had a travel loyalty card but I Really want one! I think it would be a great honor to use the card and earn cash back or travel rewards.

Jenny said...

We don't travel too often or stay in hotels often enough to make these loyalty cards worthwhile. But perfect tips for those that travel a lot!

Elizabeth O. said...

I got a ticket to Japan from my card’s rewards program. Love these little perks!

Amby Felix said...

Oh I LOVE my loyalty cards! We use them for hotels and they come in SOOO handy when we travel. My husband travels frequently so all of those points add up quickly!

Ourfamilyworld said...

Those are excellent points. I guess if you are not a frequent traveler, you cannot save tons of money

mail4rosey said...

I always like to hear about potential ways to save on travel. You're right about the rooms being earned slowly...and blackout dates are almost always a bummer.

JackieJacks said...

I agree. I'm not a huge fan of loyalty cards for most businesses, but especially for travel. We just don't stay out of town often enough to make it worth it. Unless you have a huge family of people connected to one account racking up points, then I don't know how you could really earn enough points to get free stays and airline tickets.

Natalie H said...

We don't travel enough to get enough out of a travel loyalty programs. Then if I do have any programs, I make sure they're free and I don't have to pay any money, so I'm not losing anything.

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