Credit Card Reward Programs
& Travel Loyalty Programs:

Your Ticket to Free Vacations

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Credit Card Reward Programs. My travel advice is to identify credit card reward programs and then use that one credit card you've chosen to pay for everything you'd normally pay cash or write a check for. For me, that program is with American Express and I have been a member since 1991. I like American Express because you do have to pay it off every month so you don't get into trouble with excess credit card debt. My only regret is that I didn’t start participating in the American Express Rewards program until around 1998 because I lost out on well over 100,000 or more credit card rewards program points which in travel dollars (and how I maximize the value) equates to a $1000-$2000 vacation I wasn't able to take. A business colleague recommended that I join American Express Rewards as I didn’t know about them prior to her travel advice and sharing the info with me. Once I joined the American Express Rewards, I linked my American Express cards (I had a business and personal card) and I started paying for every expense I could with my Amex cards.

This means you use your credit card linked to a rewards program to purchase everything:
• Airline Tickets
• Hotels Rooms
• Car Rentals
• Airport Parking
• Groceries
• Mobile Phone Bills
• Internet Services
• Cable TV or Satellite TV Bill
• Dining Out
• Starbucks Coffee
• Clothing
• Beauty Items
• Haircuts/Manicures/Pedicures
• Petfood and pet supplies
• Donations to Charities
• Health Club Membership
• Doctor Bills
• Home Business Office Supplies
• Home Electronics
• Household Items (at Target and other stores)

Any payment or bill that I can pay with my credit card, I do (and I pay off the credit card every month). It also saves me from writing a ton of checks every month. Now let's not talk about how simple online banking is (or your check card is) because that's not going to get you free vacations. So you see how spending money that I was spending anyway started earning me a stash of credit card reward points that escalated over the years and I could eventually turn into travel rewards. In addition, I have a business with a lot of very high ticket expenses (TV studio rentals, satellite uplinks/downlinks, catering, etc.) so I can easily earn between 30,000 to 100,000 reward points in a year.

Many airlines and hotels also offer credit card reward programs including Southwest, Delta, Starwood Hotels, and many more. Here is some criteria to use to evaluate credit card reward programs:
• Do you like the airline or hotel enough to be exclusive?
• Does the program offer versatility (can you only get travel rewards or are other rewards available)?
• Is there a fee to participate in the rewards program and if so, is it reasonable and do the benefits and rewards outweigh the fee?
• Does the rewards program have a solid reputation for delivering on travel rewards (without a million blackout dates making it impossible to redeem them)?

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You're packed and ready to go on vacation, so now comes the most important issue at hand: avoiding jet lag when you arrive at your destination. A survey by Conde Naste said that 93% of travelers get jet lag but you don't have to be one of them if you use my tips.
~Marianne Schwab

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Booking travel online should be quick and easy…not to mention affordable and that's why I like Expedia. Did you know that you can save up to $525 when you book your flight and hotel together at For the best deals, book 60 days or more before you travel because usually the further out you plan, the better the package rate.
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About Marianne Schwab
TV Travel Show Producer

For over twenty years, TV Travel Show Producer, Marianne Schwab, has been collecting money saving travel tips as a travel producer for high profile television programs. She has flown all over the world and produced live television productions on location from Caesar's Palace on the Vegas Strip to the beautiful island of Oahu. Read more