There are many, many promotions. But there are only a few really, really good ones.
In this monthly roundup, we highlight the five most lucrative offers currently available to members of airline and hotel loyalty programs.
(Promotions are listed in alphabetical order.)
1. Double Miles for Dining
Through September 30, members of the programs of Alaska, American, Delta, Northwest, United, and US Airways can earn 10 miles per dollar spent—but only for qualifying dines on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
As discussed in a recent blog entry, opportunities to earn 10 miles per dollar are few and far between. So load up on miles while this offer is in place, but don't forget to count the calories.
2. Online Booking Bonuses From Continental, United
Through the end of August, Continental is offering 500 miles for bookings made on its website and charged to a MasterCard.
Kinda like the good old days, when online booking bonuses were the norm. Except that this bonus requires that the booking be charged to a specific credit card. And it's only in effect for a limited time.
United is also offering a limited-time booking bonus, also with a catch.
Through October 31, Mileage Plus members can earn 500 bonus miles for one flight booked on united.com, provided they haven't made a booking on United's website since August 14, 2008.
3. Delta's Double-Mile Offer
If desperate times call for desperate measures, the current recession and precipitous falloff in travel call for frequent flyer promotions like Delta's latest.
Through December 31, members of the programs of Delta and Northwest can earn double frequent flyer miles for all Delta and Northwest flights in all classes of service. Travelers must register to receive the bonus, by September 30.
There is one qualifier to this promotion that slightly limits its applicability: Flyers must be Delta SkyMiles credit card customers in order to earn the bonus miles, although it's not necessary to actually charge the tickets to the card.
For those who already hold an American Express-issued Delta credit card, the requirement is obviously moot. But for those who don't, it could be a sticking point. Even though American Express waives the card's annual fee for the first year, applying for a credit card is not something that should be taken lightly.
4. Summer and Fall Hotel Offers
Where the airlines have responded sluggishly to the recession, the hotels have launched wave after wave of robust bonus offers, creating the longest period of sustained promotional activity in memory. Among the current offers:
- With Hilton's latest offer, in effect through September 30, HHonors members can earn up to 10,000 bonus points, keyed to the number of stays: 500 points for the first stay, 1,000 for the second, 1,500 for the third, 2,000 for the fourth, and 5,000 for the fifth. Taken together, the bonuses total 10,000 points for five stays.
- Between August 15 and September 15, members of InterContinental's Priority Club Rewards can earn 1,500 bonus points for stays at U.S. and Canadian hotels booked online and charged to a Visa card. A maximum of 7,500 bonus points can be earned during the promotion period.
- Marriott Rewards members will earn one free night at a Category 1 - 4 hotel after three qualifying paid stays at Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels between June 1 and August 31. And looking ahead, between September 15 and January 15, Marriott is reprising its MegaBonus offer: 2,500 points for the second and every subsequent stay charged to a Visa card, up to a maximum of 25,000 points. Registration is required, by October 31.
- Omni is offering members of its Select Guest program triple American or United miles for qualifying stays through December 31.
- Between May 15 and September 15, travelers can stay Friday night for free when staying two or more consecutive nights, including a Thursday or Saturday night, at participating Radisson hotels in North, Central and South America; Asia Pacific; and at Radisson Edwardian Hotels in the U.K. Additionally, between June 1 and August 31, members of the goldpoints plus program will earn 1,000 bonus points per night, including the free Friday night.
- Through November 30, members of Starwood's Preferred Guest program can earn 500 or 1,000 points per stay, depending on the property, at most participating Starwood hotels in North America and Latin America. And beginning on September 1, the offer will be extended to include nearly 250 additional hotels in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
- And through August 31, Wyndham Rewards members can earn 1,000 bonus points for stays at participating Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Hawthorn Suites, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inns & Suites, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, and Wyndham hotels.
5. Bonus Points From JetBlue
For most members of JetBlue's TrueBlue program, the airline's new promotion won't deliver the triple points being promoted for all JetBlue flights completed between August 17 and September 23. That's because the majority of JetBlue partisans already earn double points by booking their flights online.
Still, earning three points instead of two—a 50 percent bonus—is enough added value to make this an offer worth considering.