Complimentary room upgrades, late checkouts and free nights — hotel loyalty programs can have some spectacular perks. Of course, these programs are designed to reward frequent guests — road warriors are often the beneficiaries of executive lounge access and complimentary breakfasts — but what about those of us who spend more nights at home than in a hotel? Don’t dismiss the benefits of these programs just because you’re an occasional traveler.
Rule Number One: Whether you’re staying for two nights or 20, always enroll in your hotel’s loyalty program. Enrollment is free, easy and often comes with its own set of perks, such as complimentary Wi-Fi and late checkout. These alone are worth the effort.
Rule Number Two: Do your research. These days, large hotel chains often incorporate many smaller brands. Marriott, for example, now includes 32 mini-brands, including W Hotels and Ritz-Carlton. Hyatt’s extensive portfolio, meanwhile, includes Andaz and Thompson Hotels, among many others. Knowing which brands share a common loyalty program will enable you to earn points faster.
Rule Number Three: Even if you don’t travel enough to earn elite status, your rewards can still be valuable. Don’t have enough points for a suite upgrade or free night? You can still use them for other things such as dining, movies and lounge access. Many programs also allow you to pool or transfer points to friends or family members, which is an easy way to reap big rewards faster.
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