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Rewards Points-A-Palooza Part 3 [Gal About Town: Fashion and Travel at Your Fingertips]

At last the final installment of “Rewards Points-A-Palooza” has arrived. I hope over the past few entries I’ve helped you find the right program for your needs as well as how to maximize your earnings for it. In this last installment we’ll go over a few more tricks and tips. Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have in the comments section, as I will be doing a Q&A follow up to this series at a later date. Also, please let me know what places you’ve travelled to on points, I’m always fascinated to see where points can take us!

And if you’re just joining us, please check out Part 1 & Part 2 of this series.

Here we go:

1) Points Conversion: Maybe you’ve given up on one rewards program for another, or just no longer use a certain airline anymore, you really don’t want that $50 gift card to Brookstone that your credit card is “rewarding” you with, or you signed up for a bonus program that you just never got around to using. Don’t let these points go to waste! There are a variety of ways to convert points or miles from one program to another. Many companies that have partnerships allow you to easily convert or combine points for rewards. The Star Alliance network lets you pull your miles from several airlines for a rewards flight. Southwest, in their partnership with Airtran lets your convert points for reward trips on either airline. American Express lets you pretty much convert your points into whatever you want, whenever you want. And to go further, there are websites like that let you convert points to/from non-partnered companies. While you don’t get a full 100% conversion through sites like this, something is truly better than nothing, especially if you know you are never going to use the original points. Instead of that magazine subscription your rewards program is offering, convert the points and be that much closer to a free flight or stay. Unless you can’t live without your Martha Stewart Living, that’s a whole different story then. To see what your conversions might equal out to, use this handy Mileage Converter Calculator.

Also, many companies, like Coca-Cola have earning programs that let you convert (to a limit) points. So, who knew you could get that trip to Tahiti you’ve always wanted to take just by snagging the Coke points from the box at work? The rewards on this end are limited, but every little bit helps. And when you are able to do this through multiple venues, the rewards quickly add up.

2) Celebrate! From going out to dinner to throwing a birthday party, bat mitzvah, or wedding, you can earn a great deal of rewards points.  JP and I found this out first hand when we decided to have our wedding and reception at an Intercontinental Hotel Group/Priority Club property. We earned points for the hotel stays in our room block, points for the rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, meals we ate at the hotel while there in preparation for the wedding. From this alone we earned around 100,000 points….Oh yeah, and we put it ALL on our Priority Club Credit Card, so we also earned an addition 5 points per dollar spent. Our points began to quadruple so quickly we started calling it our “Points Ponzi Scheme” except, no one got hurt in any way, shape, or form in our endeavor. From this we quickly learned if you are looking to have a party or celebration of ANY kind, and are looking to also have a free vacation in the near future, definitely find a hotel in your rewards program nearby that suits your celebratory needs, and book that! Having a family reunion with a bunch of out-of-towners all staying at the same hotel? Get a room-block and make sure they have your rewards number on file. Family members can still get their own points too, often, but because you set the whole thing up, you get them as well. Even just a small get-together or business meeting can help reap thousands of points. And, from our experience, going through the hotel made the planning process so much easier, because they take care of everything for you! I have to say, our wedding was perfect. We didn’t have one real problem, and the hotel staff was truly wonderful to work with, and people still talk about how awesome and special our wedding was….and it alone earned us enough points for half of our honeymoon!

Even if you don’t have any upcoming events, you can still earn points at hotels without even staying at them. Many hotels will give you rewards points just for dining at their restaurants. Often you will need to have their Rewards Credit Card for the points to go through, but if there is hotel restaurant nearby that you enjoy, treat yourselves to a nice dinner every once and a while! Many hotels do boast 5 star restaurants, so don’t look at hotel dining as just your average HoJo stay.

As you can see, there truly are countless ways you can basically go on vacation almost for free (you will need to buy food). And if you are close to the homestretch on a big reward, you can always either buy a few points or fill out a few surveys on E-Rewards to give you that last points push.

Lastly: whatever you do, keep track of everything! Take that extra five minutes to write down what bonuses you’re enrolled in, what points you had converted, what rental car company you went with, etc.  Even computers make mistakes, and you will often –unintentionally-get shorted on points. But, if you are nice, and know exactly what is owed to you, your points claim will most likely be honored. Again, these little details can make the difference of a free flight or stay, and you’ve earned them, so don’t let it slip by. As much as I hate making phone calls, I know that time will bring me closer to my next free trip, as well as maybe some bonus points for the inconvenience or mistake.

This all might sound rather excessive, but in the end, the reward is truly a payoff.

Now Boldly Go!

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