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Top five miles and points deals for September 2007

There are many promotions. But there are only a few really, really good ones. In this, the first in a periodic roundup of offers available to members of airline and hotel loyalty programs, I'm highlighting the most lucrative promotions currently available.

You'll notice that this month's list features more offers from hotels than from airlines. That's because fall is traditionally a period of intense hotel promotion.

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(The promotions are listed in alphabetical order. Ranking them according to their relative values would suggest that such offers can be precisely measured and compared, which is generally not true.)

1. From American: More miles for dining

Miles awarded for dining are always a solid bet for mileage-earners. And when the normal earning rates are enhanced during short-time promotions, they're better still.

Through October 31, AAdvantage members participating in AAdvantage Dining can earn five bonus miles for every $1 spent on qualified dines, up to a maximum of 2,500 bonus miles. So those who are already earning 10 miles per $1 spent will be racking up an exceptionally generous 15 miles per $1 with the special offer.

Yummy.

2. Choice Hotels' free nights after two stays

Through November 30, members of Choice Hotels' Choice Privileges program will earn 8,000 points for every two qualifying stays—enough for a free night at more than 1,000 hotels in the Choice network (Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites or Suburban Extended Stay hotels).

Since a qualifying stay may be a single night, the offer potentially amounts to receiving one free night after two paid nights.

The bonus may be earned multiple times.

3. Hyatt Hotels reprises "Faster Free Nights"

Similar to the Choice offer above, Hyatt is again offering Gold Passport members one free night after every two qualifying paid stays charged to a MasterCard between September 1 and November 30. (AmeriSuites and Hawthorn Suites hotels are not part of this promotion.)

Free nights must be used by January 31, 2008.

4. InterContinental Hotels triples the points (and more)

Through December 15, Priority Club Rewards members will earn triple points on the second and subsequent qualifying stays at InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express.

At Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites, Priority Club members earn triple points beginning with the first qualifying stay.

If the bookings are made online, members earn quadruple points.

And if that online booking is charged to a Visa card, the member will earn an additional 2,000 bonus points.

Miles collectors will receive triple miles or points, but the additional 2,000 Visa Online Bonus will only be awarded in points.

Registration is required.

Obviously the best case earning scenario here is to do it all: Book the qualifying stays online to earn quadruple points; and pay for the stays with a Visa card to add the extra 2,000 points.

5. Southwest's free ticket offer

Southwest is offering Rapid Rewards members a free ticket for flying two paid long-distance round-trip flights through November 15. (Southwest defines 'long distance' as flights of 1,250 or more miles each way, including stops and connections. There's a list of eligible routes on Southwest's website.)

Qualifying tickets must be purchased on southwest.com. A maximum of two awards may be earned during the promotion period.

Normally, Rapid Rewards members earn a free round-trip after every eight paid round-trips, so this offer awards a freebie four times faster.

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