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Travel Rewards-do you participate?

I love travel rewards. Nothing makes me happier than redeeming a free night (or more) at a hotel. Although I’ve yet to accomplish this, I’m sure the same can be said of people who are able to redeem frequent flier miles for a round trip ticket. I remember reading in a travel blog that a woman and her husband (both avid travelers) had paid for round trip plane tickets from Chicago to Johannesburg, South Africa all with miles! We’re not talking about a Chicago to New York flight, we’re talking about one of the furthest destinations an American could travel to. I’m trying to remain loyal with United/Continental so that one day my dream of flying to Asia with a free ticket happens.

I have to say I’m a big fan of the incentives hotel and airlines give when you sign up for their credit card. After signing up for a Marriott Rewards Visa credit card, I received a free e-night valid at any of their category 1-4 hotels, as well as 20,000 rewards points after your first purchase using it. When D and I went to Washington D.C. a couple of years ago, we stayed at the  Residence Inn in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, both nights completely free. Although there are different categories for the cards, with mine, I receive 3 points for every dollar spent at a Marriott property (this does not just include the room but also parking, dining, and other expenditures) and 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere. In the time that I signed up for mine (fall 2008) and now, the incentives are even more enticing-30,000 points after your first purchase and two free nights upon being approved. The Premier credit card offers users even more incentives-50,000 points after your first purchase, a free night stay upon being approved, and a yearly free night upon your anniversary of signing up at category 1-5 hotels. You also accrue 5 points for every dollar spent at Marriott, two points for every dollar spent on airline, dining, and car rental purchases, and 1 point everywhere else. Marriotts are located all over the world so it’s definitely beneficial to be a rewards member with them. (Note: You don’t need to have a Marriott Rewards credit card in order to be a Marriott Rewards member; having the credit card simply allows you to accrue more points.)

My first ever credit card was an airline rewards type and I ended up eventually canceling it as I found the rewards process to be disappointing. However, six years later I am actually considering signing up for United Airlines Mileage Plus Explorer credit card. Upon your first purchase you automatically receive 25,000 miles, as well as checking your first bag for free. You receive 2 miles for every dollar spent (1 mile for everything else). Although there may be airlines with better incentives in terms of miles accrual, United flies everywhere domestically and now, with its merger with Continental Airlines, flies just about everywhere internationally. I don’t live in a major hub like Chicago or New York, where nearly every airline flies, but since United is so widespread it seems like a good idea.

(Edit to original post-In the time that I wrote this post, I actually went ahead and signed up for the United credit card. I’ve since received it and am anxious to make my first purchase as that will boost my rewards miles total up significantly. That and not having to pay to check my luggage equals score!)

Do you have a rewards credit card? If you don’t, would you consider signing up for one knowing the immense perks? Why or why not?

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