One of the first things I put up under the Beginner’s Guide tab was a 10-step guide to help readers begin churning miles and points. Over the next few days I’ll be doing a 10-post series, elaborating on each of the steps below.
The beginner’s guide to traveling for (almost) free on miles and points:
1. Set travel goals
2. Check your credit
3. Sign up for rewards programs
4. Manage your miles and credit cards
5. Sign up for a rewards earning credit card
6. Shift your everyday spend to credit cards
7. Meet the minimum spending requirements
8. Maximize bonuses and promotions
9. Earn points by dining and shopping
10. Redeem points and miles for free travel
Sign Up for Rewards Programs
Before you take any trip, make sure that you are earning valuable points and miles for your spend! Sign up for various frequent flyer programs, hotel reward programs, rental car loyalty programs, even airport parking rewards (we use Parking Spot, which accumulates points fairly quickly). Be sure to sign each individual member of your family up for rewards accounts, especially for airlines.
Earning points for each and every flight and hotel stay is especially important if you are a business traveler! Even if your company is paying the bill, the points earned for the hotel, flight, rental car, etc., go the the individual. If your employer books your travel for you and they do not have your rewards numbers, you can always give the frequent traveler numbers directly to the the airline at the check-in counter or to the hotel at check-in.
You don’t necessarily need to immediately go sign up for accounts with each airline and hotel brand. In fact, it often pays to wait until right before you need to book travel to create a new loyalty account. Often times rewards programs will run promotions for new members that offer a points or miles bonus if you sign up and travel within a certain number of days. I recommend doing a quick internet search to check for current promotions before signing up for any accounts.
Southwest Airlines is offering 750 bonus points for new Rapid Rewards users. You’ll get 250 points for enrolling, 250 points for signing up for the Rapid Rewards Report email summary and 250 points for signing up for the Rapid Rewards email update.
New Member Bonus: Join Marriott Rewards and be automatically registered to earn a free night certificate after your second paid stay. You have 120 days to stay twice at participating hotels, and the free night certificate is valid at a category 1-5 hotel.
There is also currently a Marriott bonus that provides 2,000 bonus points for each stay (up to five) within a year of enrollment.
- Enroll using this link
- You’ll earn 2,000 bonus points beginning with your first paid stay up to five paid stays, simply by staying at any participating Marriott® hotels worldwide.
- That’s 10,000 bonus points in addition to the base points you’ll earn
- Stays at any participating Marriott hotel qualify, and must be made within 365 days of enrollment
Keep in mind that many programs will retroactively give you credit for recent flights or stays, so if you’ve traveled lately and didn’t provide a rewards number, sign up for a new account and then contact customer service to request credit.
I will try my best to keep sign up bonuses up-to-date under the Promotions tab, so keep checking back!