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I am planning to travel internationally in the coming months. I had signed up for a quite a few rewards/mileage programs previously. I was wondering - should I take all the rewards/mileage program information with me? Should I take only those that I would need at the destination?

The reason why I am asking this is, for instance, if my flight with Airline A gets canceled and I get a booking with Airline B, I would need the frequent flyer information for Airline B. I know that most (if not all?) airlines nowadays allow the traveler a few weeks after taking the flight to get points for the said flight. Is it the same with hotels as well?

What is your 'strategy' for taking travel rewards/frequent flyer information with you?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Newton, David Richerby, Ali Awan, mts, Giorgio Sep 6 '18 at 16:05

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Do most loyalty programs even award points for flights where the traveler was rebooked from a competitor airline? I wouldn't have expected that. – Henning Makholm Sep 5 '18 at 21:13
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    I have all my FF numbers in a note in the Notes app on my phone. They don't usually need the card, just the number. Also remember that in most cases you only need one card/program per alliance. – jcaron Sep 5 '18 at 21:20
  • @HenningMakholm Yes, in my experience they do, it's a paid flight like any other from their point of view. – jpatokal Sep 6 '18 at 2:25
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The more information you have, the more chances you have of taking advantage of it. So, obviously, taking all your information with you gives the most benefits but I suppose you are asking because you might also find it cumbersome to take everything with you.

Personally I almost never carry physical cards. Instead I have a lightweight app on my phone to take text notes and one of these notes is simply a list of my reward programs with the numbers. No user name and password are actually needed to collect, only to redeem, which is fairly rare during a trip unless you have not booked in advance. So, I recommend you at least take all the numbers with you.

The best tip I can offer though is to avoid fragmenting your points by only opening one account per alliance unless you travel very frequently. That way your balances will go higher (in fewer accounts) which lets you reach reward levels sooner and reduce chances of points expiring due to inactivity on some accounts (point expire after a certain time on most but not all programs).

Most often if your flights gets cancelled and you get rebooked, the airline will first book you on one of its partner airlines, so the same travel reward program would collect points. Only when partners are not available do they book on an unrelated airline. It does happen but fairly rare in my experience.

  • Thanks for the clear and detailed response. It's very useful as it gives me insight from a much more experienced traveler. – JackWarner Sep 14 '18 at 7:30
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Pretty much any airline and/or hotel chain has an app and an online portal. It's useful to have the user names and passwords with you just in case you need it. You don't need the actual physical card or membership numbers, if you have internet access.

You can decide to download and install the apps as well, which sometime speeds up booking, checking in, getting boarding passess, etc.

  • Any device that gives you internet access also has the ability to store notes. So why not store the membership numbers on the device so you can access them even if you don't have interenet access? – David Richerby Sep 5 '18 at 23:23

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