How to Leverage a Free Vacation Every Year
Every year companies and organizations operating marketing programs reward loyal customers for their patronage and return-buying. The most common of these programs involve loyalty points, which are built up over time as the customer continues to use the same business repeatedly. What is not well-known, however, is the fact that many of these loyalty programs have partnerships with airlines, and because of this channel people can easily earn a free vacation annually if they strategize their consumer buying carefully.
Step 1 - Start With the Airlines
The first step is to pick one airline loyalty program and stick with it. Southwest Airlines, for example, has a very flexible program which works well for domestic travel in the U.S. and a few international locations in Central and South America. However, if you plan vacations elsewhere internationally, then you may be better off with a different airline like Lufthansa or United. Look carefully at each airline plan to see where they fly, how points are applied (some are restrictive tocertain days or seats), and how it matches your lifestyle. Once you've picked a key airline, sign up and start your account right away. You will get a member number.
Step 2 - Get the Airline's Credit Card
The second step involves a credit card partnership between a given card processor and airline company. Chase has the most credit cards with airline partnerships and would be a good place to start, but your given airline will offer sign-up bonuses as well. Find these first because a simple sign-up and spending in the first few months can literally give you enough for a free vacation round-trip flight just for being a new customer.
Step 3 - Drive Your Spending to Your Airline Card
Depending which credit card you were approved for, different points will be rewarded for spending. The nice thing here is that spending is not restricted to travel. You can spend on anything, and every following month you are awarded points per the dollars spent. Just make sure to pay off your credit card every statement, and you won't fall into a rising debt problem with this step but you will enjoy a fast increase in loyalty points. Do this every month. Recurring bills and payments add up the most because they often represent your biggest expenses monthly. Fuel and food are the second and third big drivers.
Step 4 - When You Travel, Combine Tools
If you do travel, and many do for work, use your airline loyalty number and your credit card to pay for everything. Hotels and rental car agencies give you additional points associated with your airline partnership for doing so. Many airlines also provide portals for booking other than flights which also provide hundreds to thousands of additional points for each stay and car rental as well. These rewards layer on top of each other. So, a typical hotel trip could include multiple opportunities (card payment value for the hotel reservation + hotel points + airline reward for partnership + bonuses for repeat buying with the same hotel).
Step 5 - Use Seasonal Programs
Many airlines double or triple points during certain seasons. These also add thousands of extra points to your account. Pay attention and sign up for these as they come up. Most are announced with marketing emails from your airline program. Don't delete these messages as spam. They literally give you free points by the hundreds of dollars.
Step 6 - Enjoy Your Vacation
If you do the above religiously and stick to one airline program, you will easily generate as much as 100,000 points annually, more than enough to pay for a round trip flight across country, a rental car and a hotel. And that's your free vacation package right there. Simple, but you have to stick to the plan daily in all your spending.