I love to travel and have been blessed with a job that allows me to travel quite a bit. I used to just stay wherever the seminar was being held. Then a friend of mine showed me the value of choosing a hotel chain and a frequent flyer program and sticking with them!
Things to consider when choosing a program. For airlines you have to see which ones fly out of your city frequently. I belong to Star Alliance because at one time US Airways flew a lot of direct flights out of my home state. I accumulated a lot of points and use them for free upgrades UNTIL three years ago when I achieved Silver Status with them. They started to give me free upgrades at that point as long as there was room available in first class. Also at Silver status I was able to get free luggage, heavier bags etc. It really pays to gain status with an airline!
It also pays to gain status with a hotel. In my post you will notice most of the hotels are Starwood hotels. Thats because I try to maintain Platinum status with them which requires either 25 stays or 50 nights a year. A lot of my stays include suite upgrades and once you get used to staying in suites its hard to go back to regular rooms! You also get increased points for each dollar you spend there.
Another perk I noticed was that with US Airways they offered me a really cheap year long membership to all of the Star Alliance lounges, not just the ones owned and operated by US Air, but United’s Red Carpet clubs too. They also gave me a free Elite Status with National car rental. So each time I rent a midsize car thru National I get to pick out ANY CAR I WANT from their Emerald club stalls. Mostly I pick a SUV with Satellite radio. On my last week long trip I paid $135 + tax for a week long rental of a 2010 Kia Sorrento. If US Airways hadn’t given me that free membership & status I would have been driving an economy no satellite car LOL.
So choose your frequent travelers club wisely! Starwood hotels can be a bit pricey at times. I think its because they don’t have as many different brands as a Marriott or Hilton. So you should definitely keep that in mind as you choose your program. Everyone is different, Starwood and Star alliance work well for me, but one of my best friends loves Marriott and Delta Airlines. Delta has a hub in his city so it makes a lot of sense for him to build a relationship with them. Do your research before you choose who to build a relationship with. And don’t forget about the value of using a credit card sponsored by your favorite brands. I personally carry the Starwood credit card and the Hilton HHonors credit card. Both of them have such great point programs for their elite members it ended up I would get more benefit using them then to us a credit card sponsored by one of the airlines. At least with the hotel credit cards you can not only earn points with hotel for use with them, but you can transfer those points to your favorite airline.