If you work in consulting, or in a firm with a good deal of corporate travel, you could use all that travel to collect points for personal/family holidays. Join all the hotel and airline loyalty schemes if you want to low-effort method, or take the time to keep up with all the special offers for a more time-consuming but effective approach. Even better, join a mailing list that already collates all special offers and loyalty scheme benefits for you, and see your points rack up.
An interview with Pierre, an ex-consultant who wishes he’d taken better advantage of the opportunities offered by loyalty schemes
Disclaimer: The tips in this article will be helpful to anyone travelling a lot for work, but it is easier to take full advantage of them as a consultant working in a company with a relatively unstructured travel & expense policy.
When you are a consultant, the main thing is to take advantage of all the opportunities that all that travel and staying away offers you – I didn’t do that. There are two main categories of loyalty schemes to think of, really; hotel schemes and flight schemes/air miles.
The low-effort method
The most obvious way of maximising the benefits you personally derive from all your travel is to be a member of all the loyalty schemes – 50% of consultants probably don’t do this, but you get much more reward from the schemes than most people realise.
Over 3 – or 5, or 7… – years in consulting, or in any other high-travel role, you can build up points worth 1000s of pounds. Whether you want to save them for several weeks of family holidays or just personal use when you no longer have the same earning potential, accumulating these points makes some of that travel worth it.
The better but harder method
A quicker way to rack up points is to keep up-to-date with special offers – on top of being part of all the loyalty schemes, that is. Hotels, in particular, have really generous offers, what with all the chains fighting to get your bookings. Staying away in one of the major UK towns, you’ll usually be able to choose from most mid-tier hotel chains. There will usually be a Hilton, a Holiday Inn-related property, an Ibis… so it makes sense to pick the hotel with the best offer.
Right now, Hilton have a double points offer, and Club Carlson (Radisson) a triple points offer. I’m going away this weekend and making back in points more than 40% of the cost of my stay. The Intercontinental, on the other hand, offer something called Accelerate: personalised offers based on your stay patterns. With this offer, you can build up really significant amounts of points, and the offer refreshes every quarter.
The best method
The easiest (after some initial research) and fastest way to accumulate points is to stay ahead of the curve. Before any booking, do the full research to know the offers that are on, and the small print attached to each.
Or – and this is where the initial research comes in – find a way to subscribe to one of the forums or email lists that does all the work for you. Email movemeon if you would like to be put in touch with someone on one of these email lists.
Bonus: credit card sign-up bonuses
Credit card sign-up bonuses used to be more generous, but they are still extremely generous! You can choose hotel-branded cards, such as the Hilton-sponsored one, or non-branded ones like American Express.
Let’s say you are trying to maximise your Hilton points. You are staying away three nights a week in the UK. The double points offer is still running. And you want to build up lots and lots of points to burn on a family holiday later on. Sign up for the Hilton-sponsored card, spend £750 (which isn’t that much at this level of staying away, over a few months). You’ll get a free night in any Hilton in the world, which could be worth anywhere between £300 and £500.
With some of the hotel chains you can earn points without even staying a single night at that hotel – you just need to make sure you meet the criteria set in the small print.
Non-hotel credit cards also allow you to use the rewards you earn for topping up your hotel or air mile balance. The best card is normally American Express. Sign up for the card, spend the necessary amount to earn the sign-up bonus. Get your reward points and convert them to air miles or hotel reward schemes points (with any hotel chain). Then cancel your card. And here’s the real trick: wait six months, then repeat the whole process – that time is enough to allow you to claim the sign-up bonus again.
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