Jun 22

Are rewards miles really worth the effort?


I have been flying for many years now and I love to do so. On the other hand I can not help but notice how the experience has changed in such a short time. Now airports are overcrowded, tight security makes the experience unpleasant and the seats in the airplanes are smaller, to all this one has to add that now the almost only free thing during the flight is oxygen, maybe not for much longer (as people always joke about). Since the first years when I began flying I discovered the different fidelity programs. It sounds nice, the fact that one can receive miles that later can be changed for free tickets. The truth is that a rewards program from an airline or a hotel or another travel sector entity are much more than simply accumulation of points that can be later redeemed. It is actually a complete set of perks that any traveler (even an infrequent one) can achieve with a little bit of patience and hard work. Still I find that most people do not fully grasp all that is involved, many believe that to actually achieve something one has to travel virtually every week.  It is sad to see how so much money is just thrown away because of misinformation or due to laziness.


What can one really attain with fidelity programs?

Certainly the free nights and free flights are a big plus. There is so much money that one can save. As everything related with such programs one needs to read a little to learn how to use it and to take the full advantage of what is offered. In the hotel industry most of the properties are classified in tiers, but anyone will be surprised to find places that normally are very expensive in the low tiers. This means that a night that in another circumstances was supposed to be tremendously costly can only represent  for you very little points. This is the way how I have been able to stay in some of the most luxurious hotels around the world paying almost nothing. The same thing happens with airplane tickets. A good example are central American routes, these are normally very expensive, but you can get roundtrip tickets for as low as 15,000 miles.


Why the status is so important?

What will be a surprise many people is that most travelers are actually not looking for free rides, but for attaining an status. The golden rule is as higher as better. More of the fidelity programs have different stages, there are offered normally three or four of those according with the level of spending, the number of nights that one stays in a hotel of the number of flights taken.  In hotels to have a higher status means free upgrades, discounted rooms, free breakfast, free use of the executive lounge, and many other perks according to the program. In airlines the status represents free class upgrades, access to the lounges, free checked baggage. If one puts together all these perks we are talking here of thousands of dollars in savings even when one only travels a few times during the year. For example internet can cost around twenty dollars per day in several five stars hotels, but it is free for many frequent travelers.


Do not give up even before starting

If all these perks sound so good why isn’t everyone actively enrolled in a fidelity program, you may be asking. Well I hear frequently that all this is too good to be truth. But on the other hand I have been one who has taken full advantage of such privileges. I have attained gold status in one airline and in two hotel brands and believe me that thanks to that I travel in style paying the cheapest fares.

I always see how many of my friends do not collect the miles of the flights or hotel stays since there is the common belief that these programs are really just for people who travel a lot. No one will never attain any status by a miracle, there is a lot of effort and dedication. It is even harder, actually impossible to get something from one of these programs if one does not belong to any of them.


The secret is dedication and information

Now the rewards programs have been diversifying a lot, and it is possible to get points for one program in hundreds of different ways. The partnerships and alliances have made it possible that even when one does not travel a lot, one can score thousands of miles per year. The secret is information. Once one is part of a program try to stick with just that one, read about it, get to know all the different ways of getting points. The full range of possibilities goes from online shopping, to the use of credit cards or even buying products in a pharmacy. There are many people who fly once or twice a year, but who are able to accumulate so many points!


The dedication is worth the time

Now every time that I fly and I see those long lines in the airport, or people arguing because they have to pay for luggage, or others buying expensive bad food in the airplane, I am so glad of having been patient, collecting miles during years. I have seen so many places around the world, I have stayed in great hotels, eating in expensive restaurants and believe me or not I have been doing all this for free! Rewards programs is a market that represents billions of dollars and I am sure that you as well want a part of that.

This is the Editorial Board of The Joys of Traveling. We are passionate travel writers who seek to provide objective and accurate accounts of travel experiences by means of written articles, photos and videos.

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