Hey there, player. We see you working it to your advantage, racking up points, transferring them to different accounts -- all so you can get the payout you've been eyeing all along. In the loyalty biz (credit card reward programs linked to airlines, hotels, and retailers), you, my friend, are a "swinger."
A new study by Six Continents Hotels Priority Club Rewards -- the first of its kind -- identifies six types of reward-card carriers and offers tips for managing points. At their best, card carriers hoard points, work the system, and get a lot of loot for free. At their worst, loyalty-card customers are less than loyal, only swayed by an instant payout, such as a free in-room movie.
Where do you fit in the "Priority Club Rewards" spectrum?
If racking up airline miles makes your heart soar, you are a "shepherd." According to the report, textbook shepherds "fuel their free-flight fixation" with everything from hotels to rental cars and credit card miles. Tip: Look for programs offering a large selection of hotel and airline partners.
"Stashers" meticulously save hotel receipts and boarding passes to make sure the miles are reflected on their statements. Most accumulate points for a dream vacation. Tip: Watch out for expiration dates (some programs wipe out points after 18 months). And don't let your accumulation frenzy creep into your habitat. Stacks of old newspapers are a fire hazard!
Roll out the red carpet, room with a view, and first-class seats for the "snob." Snobs use their points to get the service to which they've grown accustomed. Tip: Look for reward programs where points get you elite status, not just a free night in a hotel, like the rest of the reward card riffraff.
No points? No purchase. That's how "sherlocks" play the game. These sleuths seek the biggest reward payouts for their purchases. Tip: Find a program linked to larger hotel chains and with multiple point-earning partners.
Dangling thousands of air miles in front of a "slacker" does no good. Slackers aren't wooed by distant payoffs. They're swayed by a program with immediate gratification. Tip: Next time you check into a hotel, see if there's an instant perk, such as a free in-room movie, extended checkout, or a weekday newspaper.
And finally, we come back to the "swingers." This savvy credit card customer prowls for free nights, flights, gift certificates, or whatever freebies they can find. They'll transfer points and cash in on instant redemptions, without breaking a sweat. Tip: Join programs that offer a wide variety of rewards -- from airline miles to merchandise.
To determine your profile, check out www.priorityclub.com/whoareyou (registration required).