When a new travel rewards program offers discounts and a hefty points-bonus to get you started, it gets your attention. Effortless rewards, just for joining? What’s not to like?
But if you’re joining a new loyalty program to fulfill your wanderlust, be sure to select one that suits you best once the get-to-know-you incentives wear off. After a new program’s honeymoon period ends, you may be surprised by the details. Here are some questions to determine which loyalty program is right for you.
1. Does it deliver value for money? You shouldn’t need an advanced degree to understand how fast you will earn points, when you can redeem, and other membership basics. Beyond points accumulation, consider the ‘soft benefits,’ like customer service, booking experience and valuable partners.
2. Does it offer you the rewards you want? If it’s a travel rewards program – consider what access they offer you for destinations, connections, and timing. For example, some programs only offer a restricted number of seats on limited routes. Others can deliver every seat on every flight when you decide to redeem – even in business class.
3. Does it give you the type of reward you care about most? If seat and flight selection are a top priority; snacks or rebates aren’t going to sweeten the deal. However, frequent travelers will greatly appreciate access to airport lounges or other elite perks. Reading the fine print on member status and benefits makes all the difference.
4. Do your shopping habits complement your points accumulation? For example, some retailers and service partners have exclusive agreements with loyalty programs, which can deliver double or more points with a single purchase. A frequent shopper in one of these stores could chop their time to reward in half.
5. Does it take into account how frequently you travel? Some programs target business travellers because they spend more, neglecting the not-so-frequent flyers who still deserve membership benefits. These ‘infrequent flyers’ can find themselves stuck with a rewards structure that doesn’t meet their needs.
6. Does its customer service team deliver? There’s nothing worse than missing a flight or losing your luggage without the support of a professional problem-solver. On the road, it’s crucial to get straight answers and solutions to unexpected problems. Having someone on the phone guiding you through the process saves time, headaches, and money.
7. Does it allow you flexibility with your bookings? Some programs have strict cancelation policies, which impede your sudden need or impulse to travel. Consider how late you can wait to book a flight; whether or not you can mix and match rewards miles and cash; if you can share miles with your partner; or if miles will expire. Fine print can surprise even the savviest miles redeemer. Take the time to review it – or confirm that your rewards program has a team in place to help.
All loyalty programs are not created equal. Depending on who you are and how you travel, it’s important to choose an option that meets your needs.