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. British Airways Credit Card Bonus
On the strength of its 100,000-mile bonus for signing up and charging $2,000 within the first three months, I've called the Chase-issued British Airways Visa Signature card the most generous travel rewards credit card ever issued. In addition to the enormous up-front bonus, big spenders can snag a free companion ticket by charging $30,000 in a year. And through December 31, there's a $50 discount on British Airways tickets charged to the card.
The card, which carries a $75 annual fee, awards 1.25 miles for every dollar charged, and twice that when the card is used to purchase British Airways tickets.
2. Double Elite-Qualifying Miles From American, Continental, United
We're now into the year's second round of double elite-qualifying mile (EQM) promotions, putting elite status and perks within reach of even occasional flyers.
3. Fall and Winter Hotel Offers
Over the past two years, 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:
- Between September 13 and November 22, Best Western Rewards members will earn double points for two qualified nights, triple points for three nights, and quadruple points for four nights. Stays must be charged to a MasterCard to qualify. Nights need not be consecutive to count toward the bonuses. In addition, there's a 250-point bonus for booking stays on Bestwestern.com, earnable twice for a maximum of 500 points.
- Between September 15 and December 15, members of InterContinental's Priority Club Rewards can earn double Priority Club points for the second and subsequent stays at participating InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, and Holiday Inn hotels. For stays at Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites hotels, the bonus kicks in immediately.
- Between September 15 and January 15, Marriott is reprising its MegaBonus offer: 2,500 points for the second and every subsequent stay at Marriott, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, and TownePlace Suites hotels. Qualifying stays must be charged to a Visa card, and there's a maximum of 25,000 points that can be earned during the promotion.
- Omni is offering members of its Select Guest program triple American or United miles for qualifying stays through December 31.
- Through December 18, 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. Registration must be completed by November 30.
- And through December 31, members of Wyndham's Rewards program can earn triple Southwest credits for every second stay at Baymont Inn & Suites, Days Inn, Howard Johnson, Knights Inn, Microtel Inn & Suites, Ramada, Super 8, Travelodge, Wingate, and Wyndham hotels.
4. Bonuses for Holiday Shopping
With the holiday shopping season upon us, the larger airline and hotel mileage malls have begun offering bonuses for purchases at retailers participating in their mileage malls. Among them:
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members can earn double miles for purchases at 10 participating Mileage Plan Shopping merchants. There's no deadline shown.
- Through December 31, American AAdvantage members can earn double miles for purchases at 15 eShopping mall merchants, including Diamond.com, Foot Locker, Golfsmith, Hammacher Schlemmer, HP, JCPenney, Jos. A. Bank, Macy's, Omaha Steaks, Piperlime, QVC, Sally, Sears, Sunglass Hut, and ThinkPad. Also on offer: a $25 gift card after using a registered MasterCard credit or debit card to spend $250 or more.
- Members of Delta's SkyMiles program can earn up to triple miles at various SkyMiles Shopping retailers, including Harry & David, Barnes & Noble, Sears, and Kmart. Most offers remain in place through December.
- Through December 31, members of the Priority Club Rewards program can earn triple points when shopping at Dell Home and ICE.COM, and double points at Athleta, Banana Republic, Barnes & Noble.com, gap.com, gapkids.com, gapmaternity.com, Harry and David, The Home Depot, HP Home Store, Kmart.com, Macys.com, Nordstrom, oldnavy.com, OmahaSteaks.com, Overstock.com, Piperlime, Sears.com, Smartbargains.com, and Uncommon Goods.
- United is offering Mileage Plus members more miles for shopping at any of 20 participating retailers, plus up to 2,000 additional bonus miles: 1,000 bonus miles for spending $500; 1,500 bonus miles for $750; and 2,000 bonus miles for spending $1,000 or more.
5. Three Free Flights From Spirit
The headline for Spirit's new credit card offer is an attention-getter: "Three free round-trip flights after your first qualifying purchase with the Free Spirit onyx World MasterCard."
Specifically, the bonus is 15,000 miles, enough for three off-peak award flights less than 1,250 miles each way, offered exclusively to cardholders for 5,000 miles per ticket. But even with the limitations, sign-up bonuses sufficient for three tickets are few and far between.
The card carries an annual fee of $69, waived for the first year. Cardholders earn one mile per dollar charged, and three miles for every dollar spent on Spirit tickets.