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Thread: Frequent Flyer/hotel/car rental programs

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    Default Frequent Flyer/hotel/car rental programs

    Im starting to do more and more trips in Canada and the US and finding that I get to choose my flight/hotel/car. My company uses a program that allows me to just select what ever I want and I can put my membership number for whatever airline / service to get the points.

    What membership programs do you think are the best bang for your buck in terms of having the best benefits.

    Ie hotels that give you great benefits or free nights, im unsure with airlines as I try to use westjet rewards but 10 flights later I only have $25 westjet dollars. And my coworker keeps harping on about national car rentals emerald aisle...

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    Well, for sure get yourself into either Avis, or enterprise clubs.

    A family member who travels a lot is into Hilton points. He says it's pretty flexible, has a lot of locations. He stays probably 30 might a year around Canada.
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    I like IHG (Holiday inn) for hotels. Lots of locations with a 6pm day of checkin to cancel which has come in handy many times. I can usually get around 5-7 free nights a year for personal use and always take the points vs the gift and you can top up points as well. Hilton is good as well but I just find there are more holiday inns at the places I go to. Car rentals I use budget and Avis, again because they have more locations cause I do a lot of one way rentals and they also have similar programs like the national emerald isle. I go to a lot of small towns that you won't see National at. For flights my preferred is WestJet, but I don't use any WestJet or travel credit cards cause I really don't fly much for personal so I just use a cashback card. Get Airmiles if you don't have it already as well to get points at hotels, car rentals and other stuff.

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    nzwasp - I used to travel internationally quite a bit and found the Emirates Skywards program quite good (alliance with Budget/Avis and SPG) Emirates is partnered up with Alaska Airlines and WestJet too, so I believe you can accumulate Emirates Skywards points while flying with their partners. SPG is now combining with Marriott's program, however in my experience with SPG even without status anymore, I've accumulated enough points for free nights, and perks like free Wifi access, late check-out etc. If you were able to make it to their Gold or Platinum status, that's where more perks are available.

    That said, for the Star Alliance flights, I'm on Asiana Club (Asiana Airlines out of Korea); their mileage collection system also allows some mileage accumulation from members outside of the Star Alliance (ie. Qatar Airways flights). They also allow you to hold onto your status for longer at each of the tiers. I haven't tried to redeem flights with my mileage, but having the status is nice to access lounges, priority boarding etc.

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    I travel fairly regularly for work and it took me a while, and some research, to figure out which programs I wanted to go with. You may want to figure out what's important to you when looking at the programs, do you want free upgrades, free nights/stays, status etc. Each program does things a bit differently. There seem to be 4 main categories for rewards,

    Airline - If you are travelling in Canada and the States, I'd pick one of the Canadian airlines based on what they offer. I went with Air Canada because I wanted the ability to upgrade classes and have access to the lounge in Canada and around the world through the Star Alliance program. If most of your travel is to and around the US then you could even look at one of the US airlines loyalty programs.

    Rental Cars - With these, my company only allows us to rent from Enterprise or National so I just went with Enterprise.

    Hotels - this was one of the more difficult ones to choose as there are so many of them. Look at what each of the programs offer and also if the have a presence where you'll be traveling most. This page https://thepointsguy.com/guide/best-...alty-programs/ gives a good rundown of all the hotel programs and ranks them. I ended up going with Hilton for various reasons and use IHG when I can't find a Hilton

    Last one is your credit card. My company has us pay for everything and then get reimbursed. For me, that can be $20 - $30,000 worth of points being paid for by my company. Again, you have all kinds of options. Travel cards, cash back cards, most of the rewards programs also have credit cards tied to them that do things like help you attain status faster.

    Couple of other things, pick the best programs for you and try to stick with them, nothing worse than having your points spread out all over the place and not being able to do anything with them. Some places let you mive points from one loyalty program to another but you usually need a minimum number of points.

    If you haven't already, get your NEXUS card, it can make getting through customs and security so much easier - especially in the US.

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    Bumping this for thoughts on USA travel rewards for hotels and airlines? I have Hilton and westjet, but I think I'll need United and possibly Marriot as well.
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    For hotels I always end up just booking through online agencies like Agoda, expedia or hotel.com along with Rakuten (formerly ebates). Booking through those sites you can't collect hotel reward points, but sometimes the rebate % is like 8%!

    So for work, when I book hotels with my BMO Master Card, I get 3X the points w/ the credit card, some bonus dollars from the travel sites (e.g Expedia Blue Points or Agoda Dollar), then 3-10% back in cash rebate through Rakuten a few months later! My last work trip to Europe I got $210 in ebates deposited into my paypal account a few months after.. pretty sweet.

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    Airlines, Air Canada hands down. Westjet benefits are useless, and Air Canada benefits extend to Star Alliance parters at 35K (50K for the good shit like worldwide lounge access and priority boarding).

    Hotels are all over the map. I stay (personally) at Fairmont, and other Accor properties through work, so I'm on the Accor program.

    Cars, it's all uber these days.
    Originally posted by SEANBANERJEE
    I have gone above and beyond what I should rightfully have to do to protect my good name

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    So, Air Canada is part of star alliance. But honestly the flights I'd be taking would be United anyway. Is there a benefit to joining the United rewards program over Air Canada? I don't care about lounge access, just hoping to have some free upgrades if I end up flying a lot. What's the inter-airline transfer-ability of whatever status that you get?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    So, Air Canada is part of star alliance. But honestly the flights I'd be taking would be United anyway. Is there a benefit to joining the United rewards program over Air Canada? I don't care about lounge access, just hoping to have some free upgrades if I end up flying a lot. What's the inter-airline transfer-ability of whatever status that you get?
    You can. You also get bonus points for living in a different country IIRC.

    edit - looks like just PQD requirements are waived.
    Originally posted by SEANBANERJEE
    I have gone above and beyond what I should rightfully have to do to protect my good name

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    I know AC is good for international flights out of Canada, but it seems like United goes where I want to be. Now some of the probably flights are code-shared united/AC flights, I guess if I was a united member, i'd be better booking those through United than through AC probably?

    I honestly don't know longer term how much travel will be involved. It sure seems like there's going to be a fair bit for a few months at least.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Although, on those code-share flights, I'm sure that UA and AC would charge different prices.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I'm siting here contemplating all this in OKC, and I'm flying YYC-HOU next week, although that may turn into YYC-HOU-OKC-DEN-YYC if we can get a client to call us back. And bossman says I need to get to pittsburgh

    I know he flys to china and the middle east pretty often but I think that's not going to involve me. Or I hope. Continental USA is one thing.
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    For rental cars I like National's emerald aisle program - no need to book a certain type of car - just pick and choose what you want, also super quick to get out of the airport.

    I also like hilton for hotels in the states but I am going to lots of smaller cities in the US and they either dont have a hilton or its $80 a night more expensive so I've also started collecting holiday inn points. I find Marriot to be too expensive and our company doesnt ever prefer them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    I know AC is good for international flights out of Canada, but it seems like United goes where I want to be. Now some of the probably flights are code-shared united/AC flights, I guess if I was a united member, i'd be better booking those through United than through AC probably?

    I honestly don't know longer term how much travel will be involved. It sure seems like there's going to be a fair bit for a few months at least.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Although, on those code-share flights, I'm sure that UA and AC would charge different prices.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I'm siting here contemplating all this in OKC, and I'm flying YYC-HOU next week, although that may turn into YYC-HOU-OKC-DEN-YYC if we can get a client to call us back. And bossman says I need to get to pittsburgh

    I know he flys to china and the middle east pretty often but I think that's not going to involve me. Or I hope. Continental USA is one thing.
    Yea no upgrades using points with codeshare flights. Sucks. United probably makes more sense for you, as you're flying all these small US only segments. You get points on your YYC <-> US flights.

    I'm lucky I do the long hauls, 5 trips and bam, 100k max status. Trying to earn status on short legs must be a fucking grind.
    Originally posted by SEANBANERJEE
    I have gone above and beyond what I should rightfully have to do to protect my good name

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    Well, maybe the word "lucky" is relative.

    I think probably I don't care much about airline status. It won't make much difference on these short flights. Good thing about westjet is that the points and passes are all really handy for the few family vacations.
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    I get status on short hauls and you're right - it's a bit of a grind. I think I did 54 flights last year which gave me the 50K status.
    As for the question, whenever possible I try to fly AC/united. You may not care about lounge access now, but if you start travelling a lot it's so much nicer to be able to grab a snack and a drink and sit in relative comfort in the lounge, even if its only for a short time. The other benefits also come in handy, like priority luggage if you check bags and the loyalty number you can call if shit goes sideways.

    For hotels I use Hilton and cars Enterprise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cet View Post
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    As for the question, whenever possible I try to fly AC/united. You may not care about lounge access now, but if you start travelling a lot it's so much nicer to be able to grab a snack and a drink and sit in relative comfort in the lounge, even if its only for a short time. The other benefits also come in handy, like priority luggage if you check bags and the loyalty number you can call if shit goes sideways.
    Someone in another thread joked that I just commute from lounge to lounge, in a sense, it's true haha. I book flights based on the best lounges these days.

    If I had to do 54 flights, yea, fucking gimme a lounge and pour me a drink. I'd even use the arrivals lounge privileges haha.
    Originally posted by SEANBANERJEE
    I have gone above and beyond what I should rightfully have to do to protect my good name

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    Hah, a loyalty phone number woukd have been handy today. Flight out of OKC was delayed due to equipment problems. They had to bring a new plane in. Of course that means I miss my connection. Current estimate is that I'll arrive home 9.5h later than planned.

    Theyve already made a compensation offer for the first flight. I'll wait till I'm home to see what that increases to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cet View Post
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    I get status on short hauls and you're right - it's a bit of a grind. I think I did 54 flights last year which gave me the 50K status.
    As for the question, whenever possible I try to fly AC/united. You may not care about lounge access now, but if you start travelling a lot it's so much nicer to be able to grab a snack and a drink and sit in relative comfort in the lounge, even if its only for a short time. The other benefits also come in handy, like priority luggage if you check bags and the loyalty number you can call if shit goes sideways.

    For hotels I use Hilton and cars Enterprise.
    I'm in this boat - most of my flights are short haul (2k miles or less) and it's def a grind. I don't typically have much time to spend in the lounge, but it's definitely a great perk over time.

    Marriott usually for me, sometimes Accor. National for car (mostly just for convenience).

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    Quote Originally Posted by ExtraSlow View Post
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    Hah, a loyalty phone number woukd have been handy today. Flight out of OKC was delayed due to equipment problems. They had to bring a new plane in. Of course that means I miss my connection. Current estimate is that I'll arrive home 9.5h later than planned.

    Theyve already made a compensation offer for the first flight. I'll wait till I'm home to see what that increases to.
    I wasn't allowed to book a connecting flight last month because it was a 40 minute layover and they needed 60 minutes minimum to book. Since I had Nexus I booked it through customs towards the gate while on the phone with the loyalty number. Made sure I had a seat on a full flight, saved me 4.5 hrs extra layover haha. Sorry to the standby that got bumped.
    Originally posted by SEANBANERJEE
    I have gone above and beyond what I should rightfully have to do to protect my good name

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    Fuck those low-status plebes.
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