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I was reminded this week of an excellent piece of advice I was given when I first started getting interested in ‘travel hacking’: sign up to all the loyalty programmes you might conceivably make use of RIGHT NOW.
This might not seem particularly revelatory, but it’s so easy to think, “oh, I’ll just do that later or when I need to” – and by then, sometimes, it can be too late.
What reminded me of the importance of this point was a few different offers in the last week or so:
- Alaska Mileage Plan is selling Miles with a 40% bonus until 1st July, but your account must have been open for at least 10 days before you can take advantage
- Starwood Preferred Guest just launched an excellent 35% discount for buying Starpoints during June, but your account must have been open for at least 14 days.
With either of these offers you could easily imagine a situation where you make a note to make a purchase later in the month when you’ve confirmed your plans/ been paid/etc, only to find you can’t because you don’t have an existing account open. Why risk it – just go and sign up now!
It’s not just about potentially missing out either; on the more positive side of the ledger, new members without activity on their accounts sometimes get generous targeted offers in an attempt to encourage a first stay/flight. For instance, I signed a friend up to IHG Rewards recently and they received a great offer a couple of days ago:
Yep, 10,000 Bonus Points for any first stay – on top of any existing Accelerate bonus.
Not bad at all!
Is there a downside to signing up now?
I don’t think so really, no.
There are occasional time-limited offers that offer small bonuses for new sign-ups, particularly if referred by a friend etc, but they are rarely significant.
If there was something particularly juicy, you could just open up another account anyway. If you haven’t made use of the existing account, it’s not like you’re missing out on anything my opening a new account.
For example, the current 1,000 free Avios offer for signing up to Marriott Rewards is brilliant and I don’t see a huge amount of harm if you forget that you might already have a Marriott account.
Go and sign up to all the loyalty programmes you’ve been meaning to sign up to for a while.
It can be difficult to predict what’s around the corner when it comes to loyalty programmes, but having an account already set up gives you more flexibility. Just because I had a Virgin America Elevate account already set up, I ended up with 10,000 free Alaska Miles when the merger happened, so sometimes the rewards of membership really can be quite significant!