Like anything, there is a right way and a wrong way to travel internationally for business. One of the most crucial tasks you have in front of you is to sign up for traveler’s rewards programs. This ensures that you are getting the best deals possible. To help you take advantage of these rewards, we have compiled this comprehensive guide to get you started towards accumulating points and miles to make the most out of your international business travel.
Open Loyalty Accounts
The first step to taking advantage of these programs is the open up loyalty accounts. But which programs are best for you? This will depend on your own travel preferences and habits. For example, if you are frequently flying out of Dallas-Fort Worth, chances are, there are many United flights at your disposal, so it may make the most sense to sign up for their MileagePlus program. In that same vein, if there is a hotel chain you tend to gravitate towards, such as Marriott, signing up for their rewards program is to your advantage.
Fortunately, virtually every loyalty program of this nature is free, so there’s no harm in signing up for every hotel or airline you frequent. That being said, choosing a couple to use more often will help you wrack up points and take best advantage of the rewards. However, that isn’t going to always be possible, especially if you are traveling to a variety of locations, so you may need to sign up for several different rewards programs.
Manage Your Mileage
When you do have multiple rewards programs under your belt, it can be tough to keep track of it all. If you are getting miles from a variety of different airlines, you may want to try an online mileage manager to organize the information in a way you can see all that you need to in one place. Some options include Points.com, Awardwallet, and Tripit.
Select Travel Credit Cards
One of the most important ways you can take advantage of points programs is through the right travel credit card. Before applying, make sure that your credit score is in good standing. You can buy an official report from myfico.com, and there are some sites that will estimate it for free, though make sure it is reputable before giving a site all of your information. Do some research before you make an investment; this NerdWallet article may help you get started.
Make the Most Out of Your Purchases
Once you have travel credit cards, use them to your advantage. Put all of your travel expenses on your credit card, then pay off the entire balance every month (you don’t want to interest cancelling out your hard-earned points. Don’t use cash if you can help it, though if a merchant charges a three-percent fee to use a credit card, it’s worth it to skip the charge.
Opt into Dining Programs
When you use your travel credit card to pay for your meals and you have a dining rewards program, you’re earning double the points! For most major airlines and hotels,there is a dining program paired with their loyalty program, which may be the best option for you if you’re looking to earn points with a certain account. You will also want to consider which restaurants are included so you can eat at places you like while you’re on the road.
Once you sign up for a dining program, you can link your credit card, automatically adding points to your account every time you pay with it at a participating restaurant. Many airline programs will give you a certain number of miles for every dollar spent at certain restaurants, so make sure to sign up for a dining program to maximize your rewards.
Find Online Shopping Rewards
Certain loyalty programs have online shopping portals that let you earn points for buying. Instead of going directly to Best Buy’s website, for example, you may be able to make your purchase through the United MileagePlus Shopping site. It will take you to the same site, but by accessing it through the portal, you get bonus miles on top of the rewards you accrue from using your travel credit card. Get the most rewards possible by making any necessary purchases through one of these portals.
Keep Up-to-Date on Deals
You can also save money while traveling by keeping your finger on the pulse. Fortunately, the internet is a wealth of information that lets you keep your eye on any last-minute travel deals. A couple of blogs that you might find helpful include Airfare Watchdog and Flyer Talk.
Think About Elite Status
The ultimate strategy to making the most out of a rewards program is to earn elite status. If you are loyal to a brand, over time, you can attain this status by accruing enough points. This translates into better customer service, more upgrades, and more bonuses. Keep in mind that elite status varies between programs, so there will be different names for different programs. For example, with United’s MileagePlus program, there are Silver, Gold, Platinum, and 1K levels. American AAdvantage is Gold, Platinum, Platinum Pro, and Executive Platinum. Familiarize yourself with the different levels of status with your rewards programs, and what it takes to achieve them. Obviously, the higher your status, the more perks you get.
Redeem Your Rewards
Accruing your rewards is only the first step; next, you need to learn the ins and outs of your rewards program to ensure you’re making the most out of your redemptions. Your priorities will be different than other travelers, but in general, you can ensure you are getting the most value out of a redemption by dividing the price of your hotel stay or flight by the number of points you will need to redeem for it. The higher the value, the better the deal.
Set Your Sights
When you sign up for these rewards programs, have a goal in mind. Maybe you want to upgrade to first class for every flight, or maximize the number of coach flights you can take. Perhaps you’re saving up for a big family vacation. Regardless of the specifics, having a goal in mind ensures that you are focused in your strategy for accruing points.
We hope that this list helps you make the most out of traveler’s rewards programs. Sapphire Mifi is the international WiFi hotspot preferred by international business travelers. With a reliable 4G connection in more than 100 countries across the world, Sapphire is the way to stay connected while traveling for work. Shop our global wifi device today!