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So basically from November, to at least some time in March I will be traveling every week for work. I pretty much must stay in Hilton family of hotels, pretty much have to rent from Enterprise or National, and have pretty much have to fly Delta.

The company gives you a limit on a fixed amount per meal to spend and not per diem. I have to use a corporate card so they get the points.

What are some ways to maximize my gain from having to do all this traveling?

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2 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

One thing you can do right out of the gate to improve your quality of life is to look into the various means of jump-starting your status.

Many hotel chains and airlines (I know Hilton is among them) offer a 'Status Challenge', in which if you stay X times or fly Y miles or earn Z points in a set timeframe, you'll automatically get upgraded to a higher tier of status. Often, you'll be upgraded for the duration of the challenge as well, meaning you get access to these better perks immediately. For Hilton, I believe you can use this form to get an instant gold upgrade. Complete 4 stays within 90 days, and you'll be able to hold onto the upgrade for the year, and begin working on turning that into Diamond status.

Another option is to sign up for a credit card affiliated with the program of your choice. While you can't use it to book your work travel, merely having the card often conveys a certain baseline status with the program, which you can use to make your stays more tolerable right out of the gate.

Beyond that, be certain to stay on top of things like quarterly promotions that allow access to double points, free nights, or other perks for completing stays within a set timeframe, or at specific brands within a family. A good example of this is Marriott's annual MegaBonus, which can earn you a significant number of free nights. Hilton's current version of this is to offer up to quadruple points for multi-night stays. Which is absolutely huge.

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Thank you, signed up for both programs. Given that I typically stay at least 4 nights, that is almost a stay per week. –  Pete Belford Nov 8 '13 at 3:09
    
Holy cow....Wish I could double vote. Without the second promotion I would have gotten 4760 pts, but I also got 14280 bonus. That is close to a free room for a one week stay. –  Pete Belford Nov 17 '13 at 14:23
    
Glad it helped! Be sure to check in with the programs website regularly; these promotions tend to cycle quarterly, and vary in their generosity. Additionally, you may find other short term or limited time promo deals that can provide even more rewards if you jump through various hoops. (For example, IHG is notorious for offering point multipliers on weekend (or weekday) stays at hotels during low seasons.) –  LessPop_MoreFizz Nov 17 '13 at 19:15
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Most of the ways to maximize gain involve putting all your business into one program so you can reach status levels. This decision is out of your hands. Nonetheless, you have some options.

First, find out what the qualifying levels are for status with the airline and the hotel program. You might take a leisure trip towards the end of the year with your own money to make sure you qualify for status (and all the perks that come with it) throughout the next year.

Second, investigate which fare levels get qualifying miles and make sure you are always booked on those fare levels. Understand the fare system a little and you will not be surprised with a no-status-miles flight. Pay close attention if you have a last minute change to be sure you're rebooked into the same fare class as before, or at least still a miles-earning one.

Third, if you have the time (which seems unlikely given the frequency of your trips, but perhaps you're single and don't care how long each trip takes) consider longer routings. Sometimes it costs the same to go through a third city and gets you far more miles for the same trip. This is usually only worth it if it will get you status and you expect upgrades, lounge access, skipping all the lineups etc from status.)

Fourth, once you get status, learn the rules so you can start to upgrade and otherwise get your benefits. I meet a lot of people who don't know they can use the shorter lines, for example.

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