Don’t Miss: Get Privileges Only When Signing Up for These Loyalty Programs
I’ve heard it dozens of times: “I rarely travel with ___, so I haven’t signed up for an account with them.”
Juggling dozens of usernames and loyalty account numbers can be a hassle. As a result, people don’t sign up for rewards programs they don’t want to use regularly.
Unfortunately, you can lose valuable gains with this strategy. That’s because many loyalty programs offer free benefits to basic members—no elite status required. Whether it’s avoiding long lines to save time or avoiding fees, these benefits can save you time and money on your trip.
Here is an overview of loyalty programs that benefit everyone with a membership number.
Many airline programs offer discounts on checked baggage and seat selection fees for basic members. You can also stay ahead of non-members when you call customer service or put your name on the waiting list.
In addition, many airline programs offer a valuable feature for basic members: the ability to combine points. Pooling your points with family and friends allows you to maximize your reward redemption, and most programs that offer composite scores do not require elite status for this benefit.
Here are the benefits you can get just by creating a free account with this airline’s loyalty programs:
- British Airways Executive Club: Free seat selection up to 24 hours before departure (unless flying in basic economy class).
- Cathay Pacific: Priority check-in 48 hours before departure instead of 24 hours before.
- Delta SkyMiles: Wi-Fi is free on most domestic jets, with international and regional planes due to launch by the end of 2024.
- Emirates Skywards: Use chat services (such as WhatsApp and Messenger) over free Wi-Fi during the flight, instead of paying $2.99-5.99 USD per flight.
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: Get free Wi-Fi during your flight (excluding Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft), although validity depends on class of service.
For your next hotel stay, you can enjoy discounted rates and high earnings rates simply by becoming a member of that hotel’s rewards program. You’ll also start accumulating points and maintaining credits to achieve elite status once you sign up.
You will also enjoy the following benefits as a basic member:
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- Accor live unlimited: Get free Wi-Fi during your stay and free health clubs/sports facilities at these chargeable properties. You will also receive priority check-in and complimentary use of BMW bicycles at Fairmont properties. At Fairmont and Swissotel locations, you can get daily newspaper delivery (on request).
- Best Western Rewards: Enjoy early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability).
- Caesars’ Reward: Get an extra $5 worth of betting credits with Caesars Sportsbook during your birthday month.
- Hilton title: Enjoy complimentary resort accommodation with an award-winning stay, free Wi-Fi throughout your stay, and the ability to choose a room at check-in online or in the app.
- IHG One Rewards: Enjoy free Wi-Fi and 2pm late check-out (where available).
- Marriott Bonvoy: Get free Wi-Fi during your stay.
- My Favorite Hotels & Resorts: Early check-in and late check-out while availability, room upgrades and complimentary enhanced Internet access.
- Sonesta tourist card: Enjoy complimentary upgraded Wi-Fi at all hotels and a $5 snack and beverage credit at Sonesta Select, Sonesta ES Suites and Sonesta Simply Suites hotels.
- Hyatt’s Word: Enjoy waived resort fees for rewards stay and status matching with MGM Rewards Sapphire.
- Wyndham Rewards: Get free Wi-Fi during your stay.
Car rental program
Joining a car rental loyalty program offers one of my favorite perks: skip the line and go straight to your car at the start of a rental. That benefit is available with most plans, as is the ability to save rental preferences (such as car type) in your account.
Plus, being a member of these programs means you can skip the rental counter and go straight to your car. This is because these programs store your driver’s license information online, so in most cases you show your confirmation when you exit the park and drive away. This can save you hours when renting during peak travel times.
You will also enjoy these benefits as a basic member:
- Dollar Express Rewards: Adding your domestic spouse or partner as an additional driver is free, plus you can choose any vehicle of the same class as your booking at no extra cost.
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards: Choose your preferred car in the designated section with Ultimate Choice, and enjoy a free additional driver during the rental period.
- National Car Rental Emerald Club: Choose from any car in the driveway in Emerald at no extra charge if you reserve a midsize car (US and Canada only).
- Savings Blue Chip Rewards: Add your spouse or common-law partner as an additional driver for free and choose your preferred car (same class as your booking) at no extra cost.
These are not amazing benefits. Basic members (those who’ve joined the program but don’t have elite status) won’t get flashy perks like kit upgrades or lounge access.
However, you can get valuable benefits from participating in rewards programs. These range from free Wi-Fi and waived fees to side benefits of a hotel stay. Whether you’re saving time or money, it’s a good idea to join these programs before your next trip and add your loyalty numbers to upcoming bookings to enjoy these benefits.