As many advertisements repeatedly tell us, there are a myriad of ways to accumulate frequent flyer miles. You can book flights. You can sign up for an airline-sponsored credit card. And you can even shop at certain retailers to pad frequent flyer accounts.
But airlines are not the only players in the travel rewards game. Hotels and restaurants also offer loyalty programs. And now that you’re accepting locum tenens jobs, there are many opportunities to rack up points. Here’s a primer on how to use these programs to your advantage while on the road fulfilling short-term contracts.
Accruing frequent flyer miles
If you’re like a lot of vacationers, you probably already signed up for a frequent flyer account with the airline you fly most often. Feel free to provide that account information with your consultant so, whenever possible, you can add miles to it with flights to assignments.
However, your preferred airline may not service all the locations you’ll travel to for locum tenens contracts. In that case, you may want to create additional frequent flyer accounts with other carriers. Or you can request the staffing company’s travel experts look into your preferred airline’s partners.
These airlines may broaden the flight options while still honoring your existing frequent flyer account. The WellTraveled Mile website provides a useful airline partnership chart.
Managing credit card points
The idea of earning frequent flyer miles while making everyday purchases is appealing, especially when some companies offer extra mile bonuses when you open a new card. But this is one of those situations in which reading the fine print pays off. Some cards only award points when purchases are made at participating retailers. Check your card’s policy to see what businesses qualify, especially restaurants you might be dining in during an assignment so you can earn points while eating.
Staying loyal with hotels
A recent survey by GO Airport Express revealed that more travelers are signing up for hotel loyalty programs than ever before. These incentives function similar to frequent flyer campaigns in that the more nights you book, the more points you earn.
According to the survey, 34 percent of respondents participate in such programs, up from 25 percent from the previous survey a few years before. Just like with frequent flyer programs, let your staffing company consultant know that you have a hotel loyalty membership. That way housing representatives can try to help you gain points by finding temporary housing at a participating hotel.
One caveat to be aware of is that reservations often have to be made directly with the hotel company. You won’t gain loyalty points when going through third-party sites that typically offer discounted rates.
Redeem or upgrade?
One thing you might not know about travel loyalty programs is that you don’t always have to save points for free airfare or hotel stays. Many companies allow members to apply points toward status upgrades. For example, you could use frequent flyer earnings to switch from a coach ticket to a seat in first or business class. Other rewards include boarding priority or access to airport lounges.
Hotel loyalty programs also allow members to gain rewards as they log stays during a calendar year. You could cash in points for free mini bar access, spa vouchers, gift certificates, concierge services, or even tickets to events. Again, be sure to read the fine print to understand restrictions.
You may not be able to collect travel loyalty points with each locum tenens contract, but why not seize every opportunity to reap the benefits being offered?
Check out our post Don’t Mind the Wait: Awesome Airport Amenities for more perks you can enjoy as you travel.