With many reasons to love locum tenens work, you may not have even considered the potential benefits you can earn through airline and hotel loyalty rewards programs. But it can pay to take advantage of these perks.
Travel points can add up quickly, giving you the means to fly and stay free when you want to get away for a vacation. Rewards programs for travelers are generally free, and signing up is easy. Once you’ve added your rewards member numbers to your VISTA travel profile, the airline miles and hotel points will accumulate automatically when you travel.
Which Airlines Offer Frequent Flyer Miles?
All major airlines offer frequent flyer programs, and you can join them all so that you can earn miles for any flight you take. Whether your next assignment is near a major hub for Delta, United or American Airlines, or if it’s off the beaten path served by a regional carrier or a smaller one like Frontier, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest and Sun Country, you can earn points! Even international airlines offer rewards.
Each program is different, and the number of miles you need to accumulate to earn a free flight varies by airline. Depending on the frequency with which you fly or the distance you’ve traveled, you might also receive a particular status level with a rewards program, giving you access to additional perks like upgrades, priority boarding, free checked bags and the ability to earn bonus miles. JetBlue’s TrueBlue program, for example, offers four status levels - Blue, Blue Plus, Blue Flex and Mint - allows members to earn up to six points per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for Award Flights.
Hotel Stay Rewards Incentives
Frequent traveler incentives are not limited to airlines. In addition to offering discounted rates and promotional packages for frequent guests, all of the largest hotel chains (and some independent properties) also have loyalty programs that allow guests to earn points for free nights.
Most hotel rewards programs offer three levels of elite status - Gold, Silver and Platinum - and members have the opportunity to earn exclusive benefits like upgrades, access to lounges and free wi-fi. For example, Marriott guests receive Silver elite status when they stay 10 or more nights, and earn rewards like 10% bonus points on stays, priority late checkout and a dedicated elite reservation line.
Whether you prefer to stay at Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham or other hotels when you travel, signing up for their points programs is typically free, fast and simple. In some cases, you can also choose whether you want to earn hotel points or instead accrue airline miles in your favorite frequent flyer program for each stay, which can make your miles add up that much faster.
Car Rewards Incentives
Car rental companies offer rewards programs as well, where you accumulate miles and points for your rentals. Usually, points are accrued based on the number of days you rent a vehicle. Rewards vary by program, but most programs allow renters to redeem their points for free rental days and upgrades. Renters can also use their credit card rewards to earn free rentals with certain agencies.
How (and When) to Use Loyalty Reward Points
Redeeming your miles or points for free travel is usually as simple as selecting “use miles” or “use points” when making reservations online. If you’re booking travel arrangements over the phone, let the reservations agent know you’d like to redeem your points.
The number of miles or points you need to receive elite status and earn rewards depends on which airline, hotel or rental agency you want to use, as well as your travel dates. If you can be flexible with your travel dates, you can often find “bargain” redemption offers online. Some loyalty programs, like American Airlines AAdvantage, may even allow members to redeem or transfer points for loved ones’ travel for a fee.
Also, keep in mind that most frequent traveler programs come with deadlines. If you don’t earn or redeem points during a certain period of time, your account may be inactive, points may expire and you’ll miss out on the rewards. To keep your points valid, you may choose to buy, gift, or transfer points; take advantage of earn malls or sign up for a rewards-earning credit card.
Ready to start earning? After you’ve signed up and added your frequent traveler number to your travel profile, accumulating miles or points is as easy as scanning your boarding pass or checking in for your hotel stay.