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. Continental Promo Is a Mileathon
Between September 1 and December 31, members of Continental's OnePass program can earn credits for completing various qualifying transactions on continental.com, including using online check-in, and booking flights, hotel stays, and car rentals. The credits can then be converted into bonus miles, up to a maximum of 100,000.
Registration is required, by November 30.
2. Double Elite-Qualifying Miles From American, Continental, and United
We're now into this year's second round of double elite-qualifying mile (EQM) promotions, putting elite status and perks within reach of even occasional flyers.
3. Winter 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:
- 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.
- Through November 19, members of the Choice Privileges program will receive 8,000 points after every stay of three consecutive nights at Cambria Suites, Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, MainStay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay, Econo Lodge, and Rodeway Inn hotels. That's enough for a free night at more than 1,500 hotels in the Choice network. For those who don't have the required three-night stay, Choice is also offering 500 bonus points for shorter stays during the same period.
- Between October 1 and November 30, travelers who stay two nights at participating Country Inns will earn a free night for use on a subsequent stay of two or more nights completed between December 15, 2009, and February 28, 2010.
- Through December 31, Hilton HHonors members can choose one of the following bonuses: double points for stays, including the first one; or 25,000 bonus points after every four stays. In either case, there's a maximum of 75,000 bonus points that can be earned during the promotion.
- Hyatt is offering Gold Passport members a choice of rewards for stays between October 1, 2009, and January 31, 2010: one free night after every two stays; or 3,000 bonus points for the second and subsequent stays. The free nights must be taken between October 15, 2009, and March 31, 2010.
- 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 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.
- 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. Double Southwest Credits
After registering, members of Southwest's Rapid Rewards program will earn double credits for all flights booked and flown between September 17 and October 31. So instead of earning one credit for each one-way flight, they'll earn two, or four for a round-trip. That means that four round-trips flown during the promotion period will be enough for a free trip.
Business Select tickets earn 2.25 credits for short-haul flights (less than 750 miles) and three credits for longer flights.
5. Fast Track to US Airways Elite
In response to the double elite-qualifying mileage bonuses from American, Continental, and United mentioned above, US Airways has taken a slightly different tack, offering a fast track to elite status between October 1 and December 25.
During the promotion period, the thresholds for elite qualification are as follows:
- Silver Preferred status after 7,500 elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) or 10 elite-qualifying segments (EQSs) on US Airways or US Airways Express flights
- Gold Preferred status after 15,000 EQMs or 20 EQSs
- Platinum Preferred status after 22,500 EQMs or 30 EQSs
- Chairman's Preferred status after 30,000 EQMs or 40 EQSs