This past week I was booking a flight with KLM and I noticed that joining the free loyalty program would save me 10 euros on checked baggage fees. So guess who’s a new Flying Blue member? There are plenty of good reasons to join free travel rewards programs. Here are 5 of the top reasons to join a travel rewards program.
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Related: Check out some of our other travel tips posts and travel better!
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Save Money with Travel Rewards Programs
If you book enough with a travel rewards program, you can enjoy free flights, car rentals or hotel stays. But sometimes the savings can be even more immediate. Case in point – KLM’s Flying Blue program. Flying Blue members get lower rates on checked baggage. If you know you will be checking a bag, you might as well sign up for the free travel rewards program and save. Sometimes companies have special discount rates and promotions just for travel rewards members – another reason to sign up for a travel rewards program in advance of your trip.
Related: I travel a lot. Here’s the one thing I always take in my carry-on bag.
As I was standing in an incredibly long lineup at Enterprise car rental waiting to check in for my reservation and pick up my rental vehicle, an Enterprise Plus member walked up to the empty queue for rewards members and picked up their car immediately. I vowed then and there to become a rewards member before I rented from Enterprise again. Other car rental companies allow travel rewards members to enter special lines or skip the counter lineup entirely. Next time I rented a car, I did not wait.
Free Upgrades with Travel Rewards
As I was standing near the gate waiting for my flight to begin boarding, the gate agent called my name and asked me to come up to the desk. It felt like I was being singled out by a teacher at school. When I checked in at the desk, I was told that since I was a gold member of their frequent flyer program they were upgrading me to first class for free. Admittedly, that’s not something that happens every day, but it does happen. Also, sometimes you can use your frequent flyer miles to upgrade your seat. And of course if you get enough of them you can purchase merchandise and free airline tickets. This also applies to hotels and car rentals. Travel rewards members with tier status can receive free upgrades.
Marriott Bonvoy members receive free Internet and Mobile or keyless check-in with membership. There is no reason to pay for Internet access at a Marriott hotel or to wait in the check-in line when you have the option to join Bonvoy. And Marriott is not the only company to offer extra perks to their rewards members. You should always check to see if the travel supplier you’re booking with offers extra discounts or perks for travel rewards members before you book.
Transfer Your Points
Sometimes people don’t sign up for travel rewards programs because they don’t believe they will book enough travel with a particular supplier to ever reap a reward. You can sometimes make use of a small amount of rewards by transferring them to another rewards program and consolidating your points. For example, the Aeroplan frequent flyer program allows you to transfer hotel rewards to your Aeroplan account and even gives you extra points for doing it. Other frequent flier programs also allow points transfers.
The Final Word about Travel Rewards
Before you book any travel, take a look at the supplier’s free travel rewards program and see if there is a discount, a perk or other benefit to joining. Even if there is no immediate benefit, it never hurts to join, so you can access special savings for subsequent bookings or transfer the points to another program you use more often.
Related: We used travel rewards to book our entire family on a trip to Australia. Here’s what happened when we got Lost in the Queensland Outback.