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 the miles while this offer is in place, but don't forget to count the calories.
2. Continental Brings Back the Booking Bonus
Through the end of August, Continental is offering 500 miles for bookings made on its website and charged to a MasterCard.
It's 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.
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 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, 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.
- Members of InterContinental's Priority Club Rewards can earn one free night after staying two paid nights at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Express by Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, or Candlewood Suites hotels, up to a maximum of four free nights, through August 15. Alternatively, members can choose to earn double points or miles for the second and subsequent stays at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn, and for every stay at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotels.
- Marriott Rewards members will earn one free night at a Category 1 through 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.
- Omni is offering members of its Select Guest program triple American or United miles for qualifying stays through September 30.
- 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.
- Members of Starwood's Preferred Guest program can earn one free weekend night (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) after every two Starwood hotel stays between May 1 and July 31.
5. US Airways' Partner Bonus
In recent months, US Airways hasn't exactly impressed with either the quantity or quality of its mileage promotions. For the most part, the Dividend Miles program has been flying on auto-pilot.
Members of the Dividend Miles program will find some relief in the airline's partner bonus: 50 percent more miles between May 1 and July 31 for eligible hotel and rental car transactions. Mileage-earning stays at all partner hotels and rentals from all rental car partners qualify for the bonus, as do hotel points-to-miles conversions, where allowed.