#2. Join airline frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs.Some bloggers recommend waiting for a sign-up bonus or special offer before joining a program. It might make sense to join a program like Priority Club when you’re ready to take advantage of the “first stay” bonus, however there might be times when an unbelievable promotion pops up and only those who have accounts older than 30 days are allowed to participate. This year’s Club Carlson promotions were restricted to current members whose accounts were at least 30 days old, on a first-come, first-serve basis. Sign-up space filled up fast, and those who hadn’t joined the program before the promotion missed out on it.
I recommend joining the major hotel brand loyalty programs:
❑ Club Carlson (Radisson, Country Inn & Suites)
❑ Hilton HHonors (Hilton, Conrad Hotels, Waldorf Astoria, Embassy Suites, Doubletree, Hampton Inn, Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites, Home2 Suites)
❑ Marriott Rewards (Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance Hotels, The Edition)
❑ Hyatt Gold Passport (Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt House, Hyatt Place)
❑ IHG Rewards Club (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites)
❑ Starwood Preferred Guest (Sheraton, Four Points by Sheraton, Westin,W Hotel, St. Regis, Le Meridien, Aloft, The Luxury Collection).
Start with the US-based members of the big three airline alliances:
❑ Alaska Airlines
❑ American Airlines AAdvantage (One World Alliance)
❑ Delta Skymiles (Skyteam)
❑ United Airlines Mileage Plus (Star Alliance)
There’s really no need to register with any of the foreign carriers, except to search award availability and if a lucrative credit card offer or account sign-up bonus comes along.
If you fly with any of the foreign alliance members, simply provide your US-based member airline as the mileage earning program of choice at the time of booking. This way, all your miles for that alliance are in one place and you have flexibility in using them.
For example, if you fly often with Lufthansa, rather than signing up to earn miles with its Miles & More program, opt to earn miles with US Airways or United, then use the miles you earn to book tickets with Lufthansa, Swiss, Singapore, and 24 other Star Alliance Members. I recommend United over US Airways. United Mileage Plus allows one-way awards and their award booking tool provides much more availability (even though they’re part of the same alliance), saving you time and making redemptions easier.
Be sure to sign up for newsletters and emails from each respective airline, as this will ensure you receive targeted offers from them.