Business travel comes with all kinds of professional benefits, but you can also make those long flights and hotel stays work for you personally. If you’re a frequent business traveller, you can rack up points, rewards, perks and other business travel rewards to save money and make your journey a little more luxurious. Here’s how to leverage travel reward programmes to make your next business trip extra rewarding.
What are travel reward programmes?
Many travel companies will reward travellers for their loyalty by offering points, cashback or upgrades. You can usually find programmes like this with airlines, hotel chains, credit card providers, car rental agencies and booking platforms like Booking.com.
Many corporate travel reward programmes are free to sign up for, although there may be a minimum spending amount or other factors that determine if you’re eligible for rewards. Rewards-earning credit cards will sometimes have a steep annual fee, however this can be offset by the amount you save with them.
Travel reward programmes for business travellers
You can collect these rewards on personal trips or your day-to-day life, but one of the benefits of business travel is that you can collect rewards on purchases that your company is paying for or you’re expensing. Be sure to check your company’s travel policy to ensure you’re complying with it, but in many cases, businesses are happy to let you take advantage of loyalty programmes.
Larger companies may already have preferred providers for hotels or airlines, so check if they have loyalty point programmes that you can join. Small to medium-sized businesses may give you more freedom to choose, so do your research to find the best options – if you find a great loyalty programme, you could even share it with your teammates and organisation so that everyone can earn.
Preferred airlines for frequent flyers
There are a few factors to consider when choosing an airline loyalty programme. First, check your company’s travel policy to see if there is a recommended airline and sign up for their loyalty programme. If you’re a frequent flyer with some freedom to choose a preferred airline, you should think about the most common destinations that you travel to and look for airlines that provide a high volume of flights, direct flights and a loyalty programme with perks you’ll actually use.
Some airlines belong to a network like Star Alliance, oneworld Alliance, or SkyTeam Alliance, which unite a number of global and regional airlines so that you can earn points with all their members. These can be helpful if you travel to diverse destinations or just want the flexibility of different options.
Hotel loyalty programmes
If your company has a preferred hotel chain in its travel policy, it’s worth checking whether they have a programme to earn loyalty points that you can sign up for. You can often benefit from perks like room upgrades, free breakfasts, late checkouts or even free nights.
However, sticking with one hotel chain could be limiting depending on the locations you travel to and the kind of accommodation that you prefer. For greater flexibility, you can also look into loyalty programmes from booking platforms – such as our Genius programme, which gives you discounts and perks when you book. With the Genius programme, every stay (whether for business or leisure) counts towards levelling up your rewards.
Rental car loyalty programmes
Rental car agencies tend to have reward programmes that range from blanket discounts to perks like vehicle upgrades, priority customer service, line-skipping or guaranteed vehicles. It may be worth signing up for multiple loyalty programmes to ensure that there’s always something available that you can get points and perks on.
Travel reward credit cards for business travellers
Using the right credit card allows you to earn cashback or rewards on purchases you’re expensing to the company. You can find options that reward you for every travel expense or card that offer perks tied to specific loyalty programmes. But choosing the best reward credit card for business travellers is more of an art than a science. There are lots of cards out there, and the right option for you will depend on how you typically travel.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Annual fees
Corporate travel reward cards can have steep annual fees, but don’t let that scare you off – sometimes the perks outweigh the fee. Before signing up for anything, run the numbers and make sure that the rewards you earn will be more than the annual fee.
Some travel reward cards are tied to specific hotel groups or airlines. If you’re a frequent flyer or have a preferred hotel, then you can maximise those rewards. However, if those are too limiting, then look for a credit card that allows you to earn from more sources. You might also want more flexibility in the rewards your card offers – for example, earning cash back instead of access to an airport lounge.
3. Company size
Smaller companies or entrepreneurs can find corporate credit cards that reward them for all business expenses – not just travel. Find a card that combines your day-to-day expenses alongside travel to optimise your rewards.
There are new credit card reward programmes for business travellers all the time, so check your favourite business travel blogs and research specific cards thoroughly before making your decision.
Business travel reward tips
1. Start collecting today
Don’t wait to sign up for a programme! The sooner you sign up and start collecting rewards, the more you’ll rack up.
2. Pay attention to introductory offers
Travel reward credit cards often offer special introductory rates with low interest rates, accelerated point collection for a limited time or other perks. It takes some research and strategising, but you can sometimes hop between cards to earn the most rewards.
3. Monitor your spend
Some loyalty programmes will require you to meet minimum spending amounts to earn or keep your rewards. Keep track of it to make sure you’re meeting the minimums and not leaving any money or perks on the table.
4. Get your rewards, no matter who books
If someone else is booking your business trip for you, make sure to either provide them with your loyalty programme info or add it to the reservation later to ensure you get all the rewards you deserve.
5. Earn on events
You don’t always have to book a stay to earn. For example, some hotel chains will reward event and conference planners personally for hosting events at their hotels. If your business trip requires you to host meetings or events, these can be a great option.
6. Stack rewards
Look for opportunities to gain extra rewards by stacking your memberships. For example, it could be possible to book accommodation on a platform with a loyalty programme, using a credit card that offers rewards and earn points from the hotel itself.
7. Be aware of expiration dates
Many points programmes will have an expiration date. Make sure you know when it is and either spend your points or take action to keep them active.
8. Don’t spend more just for the rewards
It might go without saying, but remember that rewards are just perks, not the end goal. Always stay within your company’s travel policy and choose sensible options – even if that means going with a cheaper option that doesn’t earn you points.
9. Audit your memberships regularly
Find a regular cadence – for example, once per year – to go through your reward programme memberships. You can identify which programmes you no longer use, if you have points that will expire soon and see if you’ve been missing out on any opportunities. This is a good time to do some research and see if there are better options out there to suit your current needs.
If you’re already travelling for work, why not make those trips work for you? With a little research, you can find the perfect corporate travel reward programmes to meet your business travel style and personal needs.