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I get a ton of e-mail from readers asking for advice on how to maximize their points earning, whether it’s for personal use, business or both. This week, we’re featuring a new Points Intervention series where I help individuals and small-business owners get their awards earning on track — just in time to take advantage of the Chase Ink Plus Business card’s current offer of 60,000 bonus points after a spend of $5,000 within the first 3 months.
Intervention: Carissa Reiniger Episode 7
This week I’ve been working with Carissa Reiniger, a small-business owner who hasn’t been using points and miles to her advantage. Over the last 6 days, we took a snapshot of how Carissa has used (or has not used) her hotel and airline loyalty programs, credit cards, transferable points programs and spending to earn more rewards points for travel. Then I described the various ways these tools can benefit her, especially because she travels so often and runs a lot of cash flow through her small business.
Today, it’s time to lay out an action plan that Carissa can implement, in much the same way that she helps her small-business clients.
Carissa believes that “actions always equal results.” When she thinks about her points strategy, she recognizes that her actions up to this point — no points-earning credit card, no hotel loyalty program and bare-minimum tracking of AAdvantage miles — are getting her “really crappy results.”
So, after listening to me lecture about all the different points-earning methods I recommend for a beginner, Carissa asked me to name the top actions she should take to start getting better results.
Right off the bat, Carissa and other small business owners should do a program analysis. Ask questions. Is your favorite airline actually the best choice for you and your business? For instance, which program will save you the most on baggage fees? (Note that a lot of businesses are now flying Southwest, which lets you check two bags for free.) Is your hotel strategy actually serving your needs, and are you getting value back?
Recently, there have been so many changes in the loyalty world, in particular a trend of frequent flyer programs switching to a revenue-based system. It’s become increasingly important to evaluate loyalty both ways. If you have to jump through hoops for your loyalty program, make sure it’s also going to jump through some hoops for you.
Choose a program that has transferable points. Don’t put all your points and miles in one basket. For instance, don’t triple-down on Delta, which has been changing the rules in their program a lot lately (e.g., adding blackout dates to partner award redemptions, etc.) and watering down the value of their points. Over-investing in one program is just like investing for retirement; would you trust your entire nest egg with one company’s stock? Probably not.
To research and compare different transferable points programs, see our Travel Resources page.
Miles and Points = Profit
Small business owners should think of miles and points and loyalty as profit. These can absolutely increase your bottom line. For example, it’s a huge benefit to your business to save money on flights by redeeming points or miles. Imagine having to attend a meeting with very little notice; redeeming points instead of shelling out $1,000 for that last-minute flight will remind you that it’s worth the investment.
You can also consider points and miles as an employee perk. People will be happier knowing they’re accumulating miles and points. Business travel can be grueling, but when you can take your family to Hawaii on a vacation because you have a smart plan in action it definitely takes the sting out. As I always say, a happy, sun-tanned employee is a more productive employee.
Carissa imagined that getting her points and miles in order was going to be a boring, tedious project. But as she shares in the video, she realizes that it’s all about crafting a strategy, just like she does for her clients. She loves the idea that so many business owners who are strapped for cash and time can treat themselves to a much-needed break using points instead of trying to find that extra money for a vacation.
At the end of the video, Carissa declares “It’s like a fun game!” and I can see her eyes light up at the possibilities.
My work is done here…at least until Carissa is ready to learn about the many ways you can redeem your points and miles for maximum benefit.
Missed the earlier posts in this series? View them here:
Episode 1: How To Start Earning
Episode 2: Maximizing Your Miles
Episode 3: Choosing the Best Transferable Points Program
Episode 4: Personal vs. Business Credit Card
Episode 5: Maximizing Hotel Stays
Episode 6: Status Match and Challenge
If you or your small business needs a Points Intervention, be sure to email email@example.com.