The holiday season is here and with it comes the stress of traveling during this hectic time of year. But there is a silver lining! Properly taking advantage of frequent customer programs from your credit cards, hotels, rental cars, and airlines gives you ample opportunities for some truly amazing benefits. With a recent boom in online resources, it’s easier than ever to maximize what you can get! is one of the most visited editorial sites, and has one of the best forums to help you build a long-term strategy for earning points and status. In addition, these sites, along with other travel sites, blogs, and forums, offer timely news and analyses to help you stay on top of the latest — and often fleeting — benefits available throughout the year.

As you prepare for this holiday season, here are some reminders and guidance to make life a little easier and to save a dollar or two in the process:

  • Through January 2019, Category 8 (top tier) Marriott-SPG hotels can be booked at the lower rates of Category 7 properties (60,000 points instead of 85,000)

  • Don’t forget to call a taxi or rideshare after a holiday party! Uber and Lyft are both rolling out their loyalty programs this winter.

  • Flying wine to family or bringing some back from your trip? Members of Alaska Airlines’ frequent flyer program get a $25 waiver off one checked case of wine for flights departing from select West Coast cities (including all major airports in CA, OR, and WA).

  • Use the “Point Valuations Chart” from to understand the relative worth of each point and calculate if you’re giving up more in points than the actual cost of what you’re buying.

  • Initiate your holiday shopping through your credit card’s online portal — they often have deals or bonuses for doing so (and it stacks on top of the vendor’s own discounts).

    • For example, American Express is offering $50 off $200 spent at Ray Ban, or $45 off $150 spent at Lawry’s Prime Rib.
  • American Express and Chase are both historically high in point value, around 2 cents per point. You may be tempted to use your points directly on merchandise for Christmas gifts, but you’ll be getting less than 1 cent per point in return. This may be worth it to some people — the key is (as it is for most things) to make an informed decision.

  • Finally, as a general reminder, don’t feel obligated to use points if the return is not worthwhile to you. The points themselves don’t have an expiration date (although your account does).

Happy holidays and safe travels!