Traveler loyalty programs have grown increasingly complex in recent years. Most frequent travelers belong to multiple airline and hotel loyalty programs and now most large banks and credit card providers are offering their own points reward systems redeemable for travel and other prizes.

Tracking and managing your points and miles in this constantly evolving world is challenging, and redeeming those points and miles can be a time-consuming and frustrating experience.  Perhaps that’s why many frequent travelers seek help in managing their portfolios of points and mileage accounts.

Hiring a mileage manager

Another way to manage and maximize your points and miles is to hire a “Rewards Trip Specialist” like Pam Keystone.  Keystone’s company,            The Art of,  specializes in rewards trip planning. “My business is to help people maximize the value of their points,” she says. Keystone is just like a travel agent though she only arranges award travel using miles or points.

Keystone came up with this idea when she worked for the Marriott Vacation Club, where timeshare property owners earn millions of points in the Marriott Rewards program. Keystone says those mileage millionaires often struggled with the redemption process.

Travel loyalty programs can be quite complex,  particularly those offered by hotel chains and credit card vendors that partner with many travel suppliers. For example, Marriott Rewards points may be redeemed on 30 different airlines.

To further complicate award redemption, once you’ve converted your hotel or credit card points into miles on one airline, you can often use those miles on that airline’s partner airlines. For example, if you convert Marriott Rewards points to United Airlines Mileage Plus miles, you can use those miles on 27 additional Star Alliance carriers. This may help you find award seats when those seats are not available on United flights, but it also greatly increases the time, effort and knowledge required to find and book that award travel.

Keystone says many travelers give up when the airline tells them no award seats are available, but she keeps calling until she finds an airline with open seats. Keystone says she enjoys the challenge of trying to help her clients get the greatest possible value from their reward program points.

Read the full article here.

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