There is No Free Lunch: Rewards Programs


That is the only phrase I remember from two semesters of economics. But as frequent travelers, we have the best opportunity around to rack up the frequent flier miles or free hotel nights or free car rentals.

Unfortunately, most of the companies offering these rewards aren’t always very straight forward. I suggest, before you get very involved with any program in particular, checking to see what will be available from your home base. I’ve been a member of World Perks for the last year. They seemed to have the widest network around, with dozens of partner hotels, rental agencies and restaurants.

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I’ve amassed approximately 125,000 miles to date and recently found out that they are basically useless for international travel from the city of Little Rock. This just cost me $2043 because I had to purchase the flight I intended to pay for in miles.

So before you go “all in” with one program, see if the rewards offered will be useful to you. If you work for one of those companies who won’t let you collect rewards, I feel sorry for you and I think you should probably get a new job.

In this section, I’m going to try to give you the highlights of each major program. Many of the program partners are subject to change at any time, so I’ll leave it up to you guys to check the site and get the particulars.