Are frequent traveller programmes really worth it?

Are frequent traveller programmes worth signing up for? Travel for a Living

It might not come as a massive shock to you that I travel a lot. I mean, even if you are new to my blog, ‘Travel for a Living’ is probably giving it away just a tad. As part of my job, I’ve spent the best part of the last seven years travelling the length and width of Europe. And to make the most of these travels, I’ve signed up to quite a few frequent traveller programmes over the years. But should you? Well, to help you decide, let me tell you which ones I’ve signed up for. And most importantly, if these frequent traveller programmes are really worth it.

Let me give you a quick run-down on which loyalty programmes I use and whether or not that particular frequent traveller programme is worth it for me or not.

Now is probably a good time to mention that this is not a sponsored post. I did not receive any incentive writing about any of the loyalty programmes mentioned. I am simply sharing my experiences and opinions about said programmes. So, take it with a grain of salt, after all, I have not personally tried each and every frequent traveller programme out there. Chances are, I might have missed one of the list although that particular frequent traveller programme would very much be worth it for you.

Frequent traveller programmes worth signing up for: Hotels.com

As the hotels for my work trips are booked via a corporate travel agency, I don’t benefit from hotels.com as much as I’d like to. But I use it regularly for my private nights away and it does add up slowly but gradually. For every night you book, you collect a free night. Ten booked nights give you a free night. The value of your free night is determined by the average of your previously booked nights. So, the higher the cost of your hotels, the higher the budget for your free hotel night.

If you stay in hotels a lot, this is one of the frequent traveller programmes that might be worth it for you. Or if you are looking at booking a longer family holiday for example. 

There obviously are other hotel loyalty programmes around, and I have signed up to some others. But so far hotels.com was the only one where I actually got enough nights together to get any benefit. If you were to stay in hotels of the same hotel group every time you travel, going for their specific loyalty programme might give you some additional perks (like additional business packages, hotel vouchers, priority check in, free drinks, that kind of stuff).

Are frequent traveller programmes worth signing up for? Travel for a Living

Are frequent traveller programmes worth it? British Airways Executive Club

Ok, I won’t go into too much detail here, as I’ve actually written an entire post about the BA Executive Club programme. The more you fly, the more points you collect, the more rewards and benefits you get. And as I take a lot of flights, for me the BA Executive Club is one of the frequent traveller programmes that sure is worth it. 

Lufthansa Miles and More Programme

Similar to the British Airways Executive Club, Lufthansa also runs their own Frequent Flyer Programme. And yes, you guessed it. I have signed up to that one as well.

Back in the day when we first moved to London, we actually took most of our flights with Lufthansa rather than British Airways (at that time, those two airlines were the only ones offering flights between London and Frankfurt, so any trip home to see the family would be with one of them). But then Lufthansa started their frequent strikes. And changed their luggage allowance. So, more and more times I would book BA instead of Lufthansa. 

However, depending on destination and time of day, some of my flights are still with Lufthansa or their Star Alliance partners (Eurowings for example). But I don’t really take enough flights with Star Alliance to ever get anywhere. I collect points, but then forget to actually redeem them. Meaning, they frequently expire without any benefit to me whatsoever.

But in case you are better organised than me, let me tell you when the Miles & More programme would actually be a frequent traveller programme worth signing up for.

Similar to British Airways and One World, Miles & More also have three levels. But instead of bronze, silver and gold, the levels are called ‘Frequent Traveller’, ‘Senator’ and ‘Hon Circle Member’.

To qualify as a ‘Frequent Traveller’ you need to take 30 flights within a calendar year. Once this is reached, you will have extra baggage allowance, access to airport lounges and priority check-in. 

But even if you don’t reach the 30 flights, you can collect miles and use them to book flights. Just be careful you book the reward flights before your miles expire (as mentioned, this is where it goes wrong for me pretty much every single time). 

Are frequent traveller programmes worth signing up for? Heathrow Rewards

Being based in London, the majority of my flights go via Heathrow (although, I do visit most of the six London airports over the course of a year). Therefore, signing up for Heathrow Rewards made sense at the time. Even if I don’t spend much time on shopping sprees in the airport, just having breakfast or buying a bottle of water adds up rather quickly. For every purchase you collect points, which in return you can use to pay for parking or purchases at Heathrow Airport. So again, no huge benefits, but a nice little treat every now and then.

If Heathrow isn’t your usual airport, I guess most other major airports run a similar scheme, just check on their website. 

The BahnBonus Programme of Deutsche Bahn

OK, this might not be of much use for a lot of people. The BahnBonus Programme is the frequent traveller programme of the Deutsche Bahn (the German train company). And as such only worth signing up for, if you have frequent train travels in Germany. But then again, I guess there might be other train companies with similar programmes.

I tend to travel on German trains quite a few times throughout the year and it is my preferred method of transport (over rental cars that is) if I have to get to remote areas in Germany.

There are actually two options on the BahnBonus programme. You can either get yourself a BahnCard, which costs a yearly fee, but gives you discount on all your tickets (depending on type of BahnCard, you will get 25, 50 or 100% discount).

The other one (which is the one I use), is the BahnBonus card. Whilst it does not give me any discount on my tickets, I do earn points for every train ticket I purchase. These points can then be used for free train journeys or upgrades to first class tickets. Plus, you actually get a free upgrade to first class for one of your trips simply for signing up for the BahnBonus programme. 

On the topic of train travels, here is another one I have signed up for:

Club Eurostar

With weekly travels between London and Paris, signing up to Club Eurostar was one of the first things I did when starting my new work project last summer. And I have to say, it was well worth it for me. You collect points for every ticket you buy, then you can use those points to book free tickets. And once you’ve done enough trips within a year, you move up the ranks to ‘Carte Blanche’, which also gives you access to the Eurostar lounge at St Pancras and Gare du Nord.

Which is the best frequent flyer programme?

Well, I don’t think there is a black and white answer to this. After all, finding the frequent traveller programmes that are actually worth it for you, very much depends on which kind of travels you do.  There isn’t much point signing up to an airline loyalty programme if most of your trips are done by train. Or if you get a different airline every single time. 

How many flights do I need to become a frequent flyer?

There isn’t a simple number here. For most frequent flyer loyalty programmes, you can collect points from the very first flight you take. But for it to be worth anything, you need a significant number of flights each year. For example, for British Airways you’ll need 50 short-haul standard class flights in 12 months to reach silver status. Obviously, if you fly long-haul and / or business class, the number goes down.

For Lufthansa, you’ll only need 30 flights in a calendar year (or 35.000 miles).

Should I be loyal to my frequent flyer programme?

Obviously, the more often you use a frequent traveller programme, the more benefit you get from it. Meaning, if you can find a programme, that suits all your travels, you will get benefits from it much quicker than if you spread it across five or six programmes. I guess not everyone needs to sign up to quite as many frequent traveller programmes as I did. But I am well aware that not everyone travels quite as excessive as I’ve done over the past seven years. 

If you decide on a programme and eventually realise that you don’t get enough benefits out of it, don’t be shy to swap for another one. No point in sticking with the programme just for the sake of it. After all, the idea is for you to get the best deal for yourself. Which might also mean, booking hotels or travels elsewhere, if it gives you a better price. 

Tell me, how many programmes have you signed up for? Which of the many frequent traveller programmes out there are worth it for you? 

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5 Comments

  1. Emma

    As a Brit now living in Canada I am a loyal BA Executive Club member and I think it’s a great program. I’d rather pay an extra $100 for a better flight than a budget airline when I’m going that far, and love the Avios program as it helps give me money off each flight the more I save up. I’ve managed to do well out of it even only flying home once a year. I am also a member of Accor hotels which have decent deals and IHG. But will have to look into some of these other ones too. Thanks for the tips

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  2. Susan GleissnerSusan

    I love Delta SkyMiles! I link a bunch of other accounts to my SkyMiles account to earn extra miles (such as Lyft). It helps that I’m in a hub city for Delta so they are convenient and affordable for me to go most places – so I think whether or not a loyalty programme is worth it might depend on your location/ nearest airport too!

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    • Travel for a living

      Yes, for sure it depends where you are and what airlines / airports you have near. For me (based in Europe), Delta obviously wouldn’t be much help. Same as for someone based in the US signing up to the Deutsche Bahn bonus programme wouldn’t make much sense. But I guess it helps to get an idea what is out there and then check which companies / hotels / airlines one uses regularly and sign up accordingly.

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  3. Chelsea

    I had never been members of programs like this Untill the last couple of years. My partner travelled A LOT for work and in turn became a member of many programs. I enjoyed the benefits of the hotel chains. We received good discounts some times and also checking in was much quicker! They definitely have their benefits but use, the more you travel the mroe you earn, so you have to travel a lot to really get the benefits.

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  4. ariellekurtze

    Interesting topic! Good to know the pros and cons. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply