Top five miles and points deals for January 2008

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.

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(Promotions are listed in alphabetical order.)

1. Earn triple American miles for Swissotel stays

Through March 31, American AAdvantage members can earn triple miles (1,500 instead of the normal 500) for qualifying stays at participating Swissotel hotels.

To earn the bonus, bookings must be made through www.swissotel.com/offers/aadvantage.

2. Amtrak offers a free ride

Buy three, get one free. That's the proposition behind the latest offer for members of Amtrak's Guest Rewards program.

Customers who take three Acela round-trips or six one-ways between January 15 and March 15 will earn a free Acela business class round-trip. The free Acela Business class round-trip will be valid for travel June 1 through August 31.

You must register for the offer.

3. Marriott's MegaBonus is back

Between February 15 and May 15, Marriott Rewards members can earn 5,000 MegaBonus points for every second paid stay at participating Marriott hotels, up to a maximum of 25,000 bonus points during the promotion period.

Registration is required.

(Some Marriott Rewards members will receive personalized offers which differ somewhat from the above.)

4. Priority Club offers bonus for winter stays

Between January 14 and April 30, Priority Club Rewards members can earn 4,000 bonus points or 1,000 bonus miles on every second qualifying stay at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites hotels. There's a limit of 40,000 bonus points or 10,000 bonus miles that can be earned through the promotion.

Registration is required.

5. Southwest credit card may be just the ticket

A number of mileage-generating credit cards come bundled with generous sign-up bonuses. This one will be of particular interest to regular Southwest flyers.

New customers for the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa Signature card can earn 16 Rapid Reward credits, enough credits for a free flight, plus a $20 rebate on the first purchase charged to the card.

The initial eight credits are awarded the first time the card is used. The second eight credits are earned for balance transfers, at the rate of one credit for each $1,200 in balance transfers within the first 90 days, up to a maximum of 8 credits ($9,600). We recommend, of course, that those balances be paid down as soon as possible to minimize interest payments.

The one downside to this offer: There's a $59 annual fee. That's a bit pricey considering that several airline cards waive the fee for the first year.

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