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 traveler, 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 programs to make your next business trip extra rewarding.
What are travel reward programs?
Many travel companies will reward travelers for their loyalty by offering points, cashback, or upgrades. You can usually find programs like this with airlines, hotel chains, credit card providers, car rental agencies, and booking platforms like Booking.com.
Many corporate travel reward programs 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, but it can be offset by the amount you save.
Travel reward programs for business travelers
You can collect rewards on personal trips or in your day-to-day life, but one benefit of business travel is that you can collect rewards on purchases your company is paying for or you’re expensing. Be sure to check your company’s travel policy to make sure you’re complying, but in many cases, businesses are happy to let you take advantage of loyalty programs.
Larger companies may already have preferred providers for hotels or airlines, so check if they have loyalty point programs 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 program, you could even share it with your teammates and organization so everyone can earn.
Preferred airlines for frequent flyers
There are a few factors to consider when choosing an airline loyalty program. First, check your company’s travel policy to see if there’s a recommended airline and sign up for their loyalty program. If you’re a frequent flyer with some freedom to choose a preferred airline, you should think about the most common destinations you travel to and look for airlines that provide a high volume of flights, direct flights, and a loyalty program 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 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 programs
If your company has a preferred hotel chain in its travel policy, it’s worth checking whether they have a loyalty points program you can sign up for. You can often benefit from perks like room upgrades, free breakfast, late check-out, or even free nights.
However, sticking with one hotel chain could be limiting depending on the locations you travel to and the kind of accommodations you prefer. For greater flexibility, you can also look into loyalty programs from booking platforms – such as our Genius program, which gives you discounts and perks when you book. With the Genius program, every stay (whether for business or leisure) counts toward leveling up your rewards.
Rental car loyalty programs
Rental car agencies tend to have reward programs 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 programs to ensure there’s always something available to get points and perks on.
Travel reward credit cards for business travelers
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 cards that offer perks tied to specific loyalty programs. But choosing the best reward credit card for business travelers 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 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, you can maximize those rewards. However, if those are too limiting, 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 along with travel to optimize your rewards.
There are new credit card reward programs for business travelers all the time, so check your favorite 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 program! 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 strategizing, but you can sometimes hop between cards to earn the most rewards.
3. Monitor your spend
Some loyalty programs 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 program 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 accommodations on a platform with a loyalty program, using a credit card that offers rewards, and earn points from the hotel itself.
7. Be aware of expiration dates
Many points programs 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 a year—to go through your reward program memberships. You can identify which programs 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 traveling for work, why not make those trips work for you? With a little research, you can find the perfect corporate travel reward programs to meet your business travel style and personal needs.