The first thing I’ll tell you is that reward programs are ALWAYS worth it. If you are flying, make sure to earn points for your purchase by signing up for the airlines reward program. For example, my round trip to Bangalore earned me 16,000 American Airlines points. This is good for one round trip with an adequate amount of pre-plan.
Another brand that has treated me very well so far is Starwood, responsible for the brands Westin, Four Points, Seridan. If you will be staying for more than 18 days within a 3 month period it is very worth your time to email starwood and join the ‘platinum challenge’. This is the only qualification to become one of the platinum members.
Don’t shy away from opportunities to become one of the elite; this is a true case of the ‘rich getting richer’. As a platinum member you get 500 extra points as a ‘check in bonus’, and you earn double points for each stay. I’ve had a friend that would be in one location for work or vacation and set up multiple hotels so he could maximize on the ‘check in’ bonus. To give you an idea of what these points are good for… I’m staying for 2 nights at the Westin on the strip in Vegas this Feb for 12,000 points. Considering the ways that your points can rack up… This is pretty easy. Get your brand alliance on my traveling friends.
Marriott has a similar ‘straight to platinum’ plan. They however, bump you to platinum immediately, and only remove the status if you do not make the 18 stays in 3 months. The only downfall… you have to call them. J I’m a millium child (whatever you call that), and the thought of using the phone really blows.
Open the credit cards… Typically you will get 30,000ish points whenever you open a major airline credit card. Be aware of the various charges associated with each card though ya’ll. For example my United card holds with it a 95$ a year charge. This is worth it, if you are earning 2 points for every dollar spent on united flights… but definitely NOT worth it if you’re not. This is where you need to decide which cards maximize your benefits most… For newbies, stick to your Amazon card. (See the Free hair stuff… Post).
Points are currency for each brand. If you’ve had a bad experience, make sure to be polite and let them know… You will most likely be rewarded 500 or so. Depending on the brand, the point conversion rate (for redemption), and the incident. Here is a cute picture of Cory & I at the Westin Chicago River North. They sent up a wine and cheese plate for us… Because they didn’t have Cory’s name on the reservation and had to call me, when he arrived and attempted to get a card. I protested that I spent time on hold and told a representative earlier in the day to get this accomplished… Later that night we had an unexpected delivery. J Like I said, the rich always get richer… (Here is the view from our upgraded Starwood Platinum member suite). Haha, sometimes all that stuff just makes me laugh. What a beautiful life, if you play your cards right. Even when you don’t…
In general I’ve learned that there is a difference between being assertive and being pushy. Remember you will never get it if you don’t ask. You won’t always get it if you do, but you’ve significantly increased your probability. Assert on ya’ll.