Credit Card: Man Holding a Range of Cards (Photo: iStockphoto/Andresr)

The website is in the business of facilitating monthly rent payments.

Here's how it works. First, set up an account, linked to one or more credit or debit cards, or a checking or savings account. Next, designate a payee (your landlord). Then establish a payment schedule and amount. And lastly, press the "Go" button and the rent payments will be sent automatically to your landlord, on time, every month. No muss, no fuss.

The site promotes the service as a convenience and as a credit-building tool.

But for rewards-program participants, it also holds the promise of earning frequent flyer miles or hotel points by using credit cards to make those hefty monthly rent payments. (Landlords typically do not accept credit-card payments.)

Should you use a credit card to pay your rent? It all comes down to the costs, of more»

Photo: Index Open

While the name has remained the same, Marriott's recurring MegaBonus offer has taken many different forms over the years.

For last year's fall MegaBonus, Marriott offered 2,500 bonus points after every second and subsequent stay charged to a Visa card.

This fall, Marriott has fashioned its MegaBonus promotion around free nights instead of bonus more»

Man looking at guide book (Photo: Index Open)

Score up to 100,000 bonus miles.*

That's the headline for US Airways' upcoming promotion. With that fat, round number as an incentive, it has a nice ring to it. It's an attention-getter, all right.

As is often the case with headlines, this one has an asterisk next to it. But with this offer, one asterisk may not be more»

Hotel room (Photo: Index Open)

It's almost September and the fall hotel promotions are beginning to trickle in.

First up for review is the following offer from Starwood.

Offer Details

Between September 8 and December 15, Starwood Preferred Guest members can earn double points for up to nine qualifying nights, and triple points for 10 or more nights, including the first more»

Woman Frustrated at Laptop (Photo: iStockphoto/Brent Holland)

Booking travel has never been easy.

Who has the best deal—the lowest price, the best loyalty bonus, the most customer-friendly terms?

There's no definitive answer to that question. Sometimes you'll find better deals on the airline or hotel websites, sometimes not. Sometimes third-party distributors have the best deals, sometimes not. If there were a reliably superior booking solution, everyone would use it, always, squeezing the other channels out of more»

Bags lined up for departure (Photo: iStockphoto/Vera Bogaerts)

According to SmarterTravel's Ultimate Guide to Airline Fees, flyers could be charged as much as $80 each way, $160 round-trip, to check two bags. (That's on Delta, for airport-checked bags on international flights.)

That's a considerable expense. And with prices to check just a single bag typically in the $20 to $25 range, each way, it's expensive even when it's not that expensive.

Whether it's the money or something less tangible, the bag fees have proven to be a considerable irritant to travelers—they were the number one complaint in a recent Consumer Reports survey.

Apparently sensing an opportunity to capitalize on travelers' discontent, the InterContinental Hotels Group has placed the airline bag fees squarely at the center of its upcoming more»

Photo: Southwest Airlines

If you're a regular reader of the Up Front blog, you know that one of my recurring criticisms of the low-cost carriers' loyalty programs is their relatively sparse partner lineups.

Members of American's program, for example, can earn miles when purchasing goods and services from more than 1,000 companies, representing just about every industry segment. But members of AirTran's A+ program can earn points only for flying on AirTran, using the program-affiliated credit card, renting from Hertz, and buying from a handful of miscellaneous other partner companies. In terms of opportunities to bolster your mileage-account balance, the former obviously trumps the latter.

Bigger beats smaller on the awards side of the programs as well. With American's long list of airline partners, AAdvantage miles can be redeemed for free flights to every corner of the world. AirTran credits are redeemable for flights to, well, anywhere AirTran flies.

Although some of the discount carriers have made noteworthy progress in expanding their frequent flyer partnerships—Virgin America is a shining example—Southwest has been a conspicuous laggard, especially considering the airline's growth into one of the country's largest more»

Planes taking off behind pink sky (Photo: Index Open)

Potentially lucrative mileage sales have become a semi-permanent feature of US Airways' Dividend Miles program.

Most recently, the airline offered to double the number of miles purchased between June 1 and July 31, the fourth such offer in just the past year.

Apparently US Airways was pleased with the results of that promotion, and of its predecessors, because they wasted no time in launching a new more»

Travelers packing up convertible

I'm cheap.

Even when traveling on the company dime, the ritzy top-end hotels rarely get my business.

When attending travel industry conferences, I've been known to bypass the "official" hotel (with the supposedly "special" rates for conference attendees) in favor of the modest motel down the street.

My idea of luxe accommodations is a Courtyard by Marriott. Free Internet access. Free parking. A swimming pool. And I earn points in a solid frequent-stay program, Marriott Rewards.

But when I'm on the road for family reunions, weekend getaways, and the like, I'm perfectly happy to hang my hat at a Best Western, a Motel 6, or whatever independent Dew Drop Inn happens to have a flashing Vacancy sign and a $39 rate.

While I'm a fan of cheapie hotels, I'm by no means an expert—I typically look at location, price, and amenities, and let the chips fall where they may, regardless of brand or, for the most part, loyalty points.

Because I'm not an expert, I was intrigued by the results of the recent J.D. Powers 2010 Hotel Guest Satisfaction more»

Boston skyline (Photo: Greater Boston CVB)

It's been a good summer for frequent flyers who either live in the Boston area or fly there.

Delta got the bonus ball rolling with a triple elite-qualifying miles promotion for its Shuttle operation, including New York-Boston flights, through August 31.

American responded to a portion of Delta's promotion with its own triple elite-qualifying mile bonus for American or American Eagle flights between New York and Chicago (O'Hare) or Boston, also through August 31.

JetBlue is offering triple points for flights between New York and Boston through August 31, and for flights between Boston and Los Angeles through October 31.

And now, on the eve of the first anniversary of its service to Boston, Southwest has added its own Boston promotion to the more»