Sunday Reader Email Question: Can I Get Points for Booking Corporate Travel?

by on September 25, 2011 · 28 comments

in American, Big Crumbs, British Airways, Delta, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Marriott, Starwood, Sunday Reader Questions

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TPG reader Adam writes:

“My girlfriend recently got a job as a receptionist. She’ll be doing all of the travel booking for the company … however, individuals will be using their corporate credit cards to book.

Are there any rewards programs (hotel, air, or AmEx) that allow assistants to make points for choosing that hotel/air program over others?”

First things first, she will need to clear with her employer whether it’s okay to collect points for the travel she books. It’s better to be safe than sorry- no amount of points is worth losing your job- especially in this economy. My honest advice would be to inform her manager about the programs I’m going to mention in order to add value to the company and cement your standing. Assuming they are okay with it (or for any small business owners out there) here are some ways to get points and save money on your travel spend:

Set up a Big Crumbs referral account and book travel though Expedia via Big Crumbs and get $3.20 in cash back per flight, 1.6% of hotels, 3.2% of any packages and 2.4% of car rentals. That could add up.

If you book airfare directly through airline websites, you can create a business account and earn business points for all flights booked. Most airline business programs take a ton of purchases to get any meaningful rewards, but it’s better than nothing.

American has the Business ExtrAA program. “Your company will receive one point for each $10 you spend to fly on published fares during the month. Your company will earn double credit for every eligible itinerary that originates from one of over 200 airports [excludes Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) and Miami (MIA)]“ Gary at View From the Wing recently blogged that it may be possible to earn an extra 5,000 AA miles for signing up using promo code SME3Q11, but it’s up in the air whether that bonus actually works. Can’t hurt to try!

British Airways has the On Business program. Earning is complicated, but you get 4,320 points for a first class roundtrip to Australia and it only costs 3,120 for an intra-European roundtrip (see redemption chart here).

Delta has the SkyBonus program. It’s free to sign-up (they don’t actually require any proof of your business) and you earn up to 30 SkyBonus points per dollar spent. You can then redeem earned points on things as small as 10 drinks coupons (10,000 points) or a free coach roundtrip in the US (85,000). I used bonus code SB2011NEW earlier this year for a 25,000 point sign-up bonus, but I’m not sure if it’s still active. Can’t hurt to try!

United has the PerksPlus program, which requires a minimum of $20,000 annual spend on United and Lufthansa.

For planned meetings, there is a huge opportunity. Almost all hotel chains offer Meeting Planner programs if you plan a meeting and pay it all through a centralized bill:

Hilton has the Event Planner. In typical Hilton style, they give a double dip earning option of 1 HHonors bonus point and 1 airline mile per US$ spent.
Qualification: Your event must be contracted with the hotel in advance for a minimum of US$1,000. Eligible charges include those for guest rooms, meeting rooms and catering (excluding taxes and service charges).

Hyatt has the Gold Passport Meeting program.

  • Earn 1 bonus point for every eligible U.S. dollar spent on your event up to 50,000 bonus points*
  • Receive bonus points for eligible dollars spent on guestrooms, meeting rooms, banquets and in-house catering
  • Split your earned bonus points up to three ways to reward co-workers and colleagues who helped you plan your qualifying event
  • Or, earn bonus points for your company**

They also offer an elite status component: Platinum status after 3 meetings and Diamond after 10.
Qualification: 10 or more actualized guestrooms, or for each catering/banqueting event

Marriott has the Rewarding Events program that offers either For every $1 US in total charges, you can
choose to earn either: 3 points per $1 US – Maximum 50,000 or 1 airline mile per $1 US – Maximum 15,000.
Marriott also offers elite status: “As a member, you also earn 10 Elite nights along with your points for each qualifying group, meeting, or event.” Silver Elite is 10 Elite night, Gold Elite is 50 Elite nights and Platinum Elite after 75 Elite nights.
Qualifying meeting is: a room block must actualize with at least 10 rooms on one night to earn points or miles

Marriott is also running a triple points promotion for meetings:

  • Register by March 31, 2012.
  • Book your event at any participating Marriott brand between September 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.
  • Hold your event between September 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.
  • Earn triple points (up to 150,000) for every event, starting with your 2nd event.

Priority Club has Meeting Rewards. You earn 3 Priority Club points for every US$1 you spend on qualified meetings* at InterContinental Hotels & Resorts — as well as all Priority Club Rewards Family of Brands hotels — in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Latin America.
Qualified meeting: Consists of 10 or more guest rooms within your group block occupied for at least one night of the meeting with associated meeting-related food and beverage charges applied to your master bill. The maximum benefit per qualified meeting is 60,000 points

Starwood  has the Preferred Planner program: One point for every three U.S. dollars of eligible group revenue (to a maximum of 20,000 Starpoints per event). Free Starwood Platinum status with $100,000 in yearly spend.

Opentable offers a program for Administrative Assistants that allows them to earn the points (usually 100-1,000) per reservation.

I’m sure there are other ways to maximize miles and points from corporate travel, so feel free to share your tips and tricks of the trade!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Rebekahroxanna

    This raises a lot of ethical dilemmas. First I would have the girl friend check with her company regarding their view of her collecting points for doing her job. Many companies allow employees who actually travel to keep points as a benefit, to offset the “cost” of being on the road–away from home and family. Because the girl friend is simply doing her job, the employer may view her collecting points in this way as “stealing” a benefit that actually belongs to the employer.

  • GA

    Reading your suggestions and seeing no caveats except beware with opentable bc you may get caught really strikes the wrong note, but might be what the writer (an outside party themself) wants to hear.

    Bottom line is when booking someone elses travel or your own, as part of your job description, you will have rules to follow and basic ethics to keep in mind. Most important is to ensure the company is not paying more so you can collect some sort of kickback … So if bigcrumbs, etc is considered or you use an orbitz vs booking direct, i would expect that the person, as part of their job, would first ensure they are delivering the best value to the company before ensuring their own personal savings acct gets funded. Their job is on the line if they were to get off course and that should not be forgotten.

  • Anonymous

    I assumed they would clear this with their employer first in order to not lose their job, but just to be safe I added another disclaimer at the beginning of the post. While I love points, they aren’t worth losing your job over!

  • Anonymous

    Right- I didn’t really want this post to be about the ethical dilemmas, but you bring up a good point. I added in another disclaimer to make sure to clear this with your company

  • Tim

    It sucks that their first thought is not “how can I save the company money”, but “how can I capitalize on this”?
    Sounds like Wall Street thinking.
    This would be a great reference for the owner of small business that did travel.

  • Gpapadop

    I wouldn’t go there regarding the air tickets and dining. But I would definitely look into the meeting planner angle and clear this up with the company FIRST and get it in WRITING. And if she likes and wants to keep her job I would probably let that go too…

  • Mark

    The Amex corporate card can be linked to a membership rewards account–that’s an easy way to get points.

  • Federico

    You can use airmilesmart, is a referral website (like AAdvantageEShopping), so you make 1 point for every 2 dollar when you book on:

    Avis, Budget, Candlewood Suites, Clarion, Comfort Inn/Suites, Country Inn, Crowne Plaza, Cheaptickets*, Delta*, Dollar, Enterprise, Four Points, Hawaiian Airlines, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo,, Hotwire, Intercontinental, KLM, La Quinta*, Le Meridien, Marriots, Orbitz*, Park Plaza, Priceline, Quiality Inn, Radisson, Sheraton, Thrify, Travelocity*, W Hotels, Westin

    * Only 25 w points per reservation

    With airmilesmart you can transfer your points (1:1) to Delta (50k max per year) or Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).

  • Mama Claire

    I love how this site and author continue to tread on the (not so thin at all this time) unethical line.

  • Anonymous

    How is this unethical? I’m giving everyone tips on how they can maximize the return on the money they spend on travel- whether you own a small business, work for one or just want to maximize your personal spend. I clearly stated anything you do for a company should be approved with them beforehand.

  • Anonymous

    My thinking would be that if the boss doesn’t know about the various airline business programs, when he/she finds out, they will want it used on the company. I cannot imagine a company that would allow the person responsible for booking travel to use a corporate airline account for their personal benefits. Again, up to the employer, however. Who knows!
    BTW, there is a Skybonus sign-up that I used a month or two ago that gives you 40,000 points after your first flight. I think it runs until the end of this month – JUNSKYMAG is the code I think (or it maybe JULY instead of JUN).

  • BluTangle

    How I understand your post is your girlfriend has just gotten or not even started the job and you’re looking at this angle for some benefits to the job and you write to a blog instead of asking the company. Did I miss anything ?
    Second question is why does this blog even entertain such questions ? I know, I know…freedom of speech and all that.
    How about smuggling questions ? It’s just a topic ?

  • Anonymous

    I just took this as an opportunity to talk about ways to get points if you aren’t the one traveling/ paying for it.

    There is still valuable information in the post, but people are getting sidetracked by the ethical dilemma of the reader (which I personally don’t have an issue with as long as everything is approved by their employer)

  • Anonymous

    I agree- the smarter play here would be to inform the boss about these valuable programs to cement your standing within the company.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously? I’m the one who asked this question. For everyone to be slamming on TPG is absurd. Of course I’d have my GF ask the company if she can do the booking while earning points. She’s not stealing anything from the company…it still is booked on the corporate cards. She just has the option to book via any search engine she chooses, so she might as well use one that may provide rewards.

    The fact that people are making this an ethics question is well beyond the scope of this blog. I’m sorry, TPG, that some of your readers feel the need to be ethics police on subjects that don’t need policing.

    I don’t think any company would have any issues with an assistant booking through Expedia via Bigcrumbs…

    Thanks for answering my question fully, TPG.

  • Federico

    Unethical?I don’t want to be rude but WTF are you talking about? you can make points or cashback on reservation, you don’t have to steal any points because employees will get their points/miles. You can maximize this using referral websites (fatwallet, Bigcrumbs, AAeShopping). They can even get some saving when they use 5~10% coupon code from Orbitz (and others).

  • Walt K

    I’d also avoid routing people through other sites like Expedia just to get points. If it actually results in a cheaper fare and you or the company can get some points, great. But I hate when I am booked on travelocity, expedia, orbitz, etc. unless there is actually a cost savings. When something goes wrong, I find it is much easier to be booked directly with the airline.

  • Ted

    Unless you want to be like TPG, let the “normal” job go and do travel full-time! :)

  • PJ

    Slamming on Brian is totally absurb.
    a side topic- is there any company which organizes the travel rewards to be ‘monetarized’–( cud be causing tax consequence) and brought back into A centralized travel account for the purpose of overall travel expenses savings? We all know the best use of travel points is to use as upgrade or buinsess+ travel.

    bigcrumbs SAVES, this quarter, how much do I really pay out of pocket with CHase Freedom Visa on a $200 dollar travel bills ? 200 minus 12.8( 6.4 % Big Crumbs rebate minus 11 ( 5% on 200 + 10 % on ( 5% on 200) )
    cool savings !!

  • Walt K

    And how I understand your post is that you are a moron. I know that someone asking advice about other ways to get points from booking travel from a guy who blogs about earning points must have really seemed just like a question about smuggling. And no one could possibly understand why he’d blog about it except for his constitutionally protected right to free speeach. Incidentally, I think several drug cartels may have just bookmarked this page and told their mules they now have to route their travel through Big Crumbs.

  • RyderG

    Does anyone know of a way to accrue additional points (eg. business loyalty account on airlines, hotels, etc.) when using a Citibank corporate card? We accrue miles/points as long as the travel is booked through our company travel website (managed by Carlson Wagonlit)m but it would be great if someone knew of a way to make additional points/miles like I do with personal travel. For example, you earn AmEx membership rewards points plus Skymiles when using personal card to book personal travel, but only earn the miles/points from airline/hotel program when using corporate card which seems like a waste). Would these business programs (bigcrumbs, perks plus, skybonus) work for an individual booking travel with a corp card? Thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Michelle

    The 25K bonus code (SB2011NEW) still works! It posted immediately when I logged in for the first time.

  • Matthew Wilson

    The 25K bonus code (SB2011NEW) worked It posted immediately and I also got 2000 extra points in a few minutes for going through SkyBonus University.

  • Matthew Wilson

    The 25K bonus code (SB2011NEW) worked It posted immediately and I also got 2000 extra points in a few minutes for going through SkyBonus University.

  • Anonymous

    No need to ‘blast’ anyone; however it is true the POINTS/CASH BACK/REBATES accured during the normal course of business BELONG to the business. If you have a corporate card and your business lets you keep the points then they are allowing you to have this perk. However, obviously they are aware of the situation. Now to divert business rebates or benefits WITHOUT the company knowing, in my opinion this is theft, and unethical.

  • Philatravelgirl

    This is good information for the small business and we participate in most of the airline/hotel programs, however, signing up for many of the programs requires a corporate officer listed in addition to naming an administrator. Most companies do not allow corporate cards to earn miles/points, if they do, they should belong to the road warriors/travelers. I would be more concerned that the person booking is obtaining the best price per the policy rather one that “rewards her” so there is an ethical issue here if she makes a decision in her favor that is detrimental to the firm.

    Additionally, while the IRS does not tax the value of the points for travelers (thankfully), in this case if the employer were to “give” the receptionist the “points/gift cards/air tix” etc from their corporate account – there is the IRS gift rule requiring it be counted as compensation and taxed if over $25 –

    I’d instead of focusing on “what she can get”, show the company “what she can save” and go from there – I created a role of Travel Mgr at my last firm doing just this -

  • Anonymous

    Future question:
    Looking at your JetBlue archives, was surprised NOT to find their recent
    fly-3mos-unlimited-rt-all -destinations-from-Boston-$1500(?)-total offer…?
    (I found it via too late)
    How can one best be on top of such offers & buy-in before quotas are filled?

  • Jt Gonzales

    One reward program that you don’t mention is the program. It’s great for small businesses because they let you stay at multiple property brands and the rewards are held under one account. Since I own my company I book all my employee’s travel through and thus their points are credited towards me. The reward nights are really easy 10nights = 1 free night and so long as you book one night per year your nights never expire.

    It’s also really easy to get plat (aka fivestar) status (10 nights) and Plat elite is 25. While for the true road warriors they don’t match up to the national brand rewards programs, for the small biz traveler who might do 10-15 nights on the road a year it’s a great program.

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