If you open up my wallet you will find lots of reward cards related to travel i.e. Hilton Honors, Sky Miles, AAdvantage, Choice Hotels, Air Tran A + Rewards, and so on. I have a lot of them and when people see them, they tell I'm pretty ridiculous, BUT there's a purpose behind these cards. I promise. They get you upgrades and better service, almost 100% of the time..... and the best part is.....they are all FREE to have :)
1. Case in point: When flying Southwest a few years ago, our plane got stuck in a severe storm; it took a beating and we were forced to make an emergency landing. Yes, emergency, but that's another story all in itself! We had to spend the night in Birmingham and take flights home to Louisville the next morning. While at the ticket counter re-booking our flight, the ticket counter lady said that anyone who was a member of the Southwest Rapid Rewards program got first pick of the flights for the next day. I didn't have a card at the time and didn't get first pick. Drats. After realizing it was a free program, I learned my lesson: Sign up!
2. After returning home from Mexico and having yet another crazy flying adventure (pray you're never on a flight with me, I'm cursed with flying drama), I emailed corporate, informed them that I was an AAdvantage Member ( I had only flown them once prior and just applied for my card in October) that I was dissatisfied, and instantly received enough points to fly to the Caribbean....Yes, Caribbean.For Free. Yes. Yes. and Yes.
3. When checking in at the Double Tree Nashville (which was booked at half price via Hotwire) and showing my Hilton Honors card, we were immediately given a large corner room with extra space, just because I was a cardholder and despite the fact that I only paid $80 for a $165 room!! Thank you Honors Card!!!
and the list could go on.......Point being, hotels and airlines like people who are frequent visitors. They LOVE their customers and want to keep them happy so they do small things to insure happiness remains. What business wouldn't want to keep their frequent customers happy?! They figure people who have their frequent customer/rewards cards are repeat customers because why else would someone go through the process of getting a card if they weren't a frequent customer?! Most people wont, but I do, and it has totally paid off!!! I promise you it works or I wouldn't bother applying for them every time I stay at a new hotel chain or fly a new airline. So go on, grab those cards and don't be afraid to flash them to the employees and enjoy those upgrades and free amenities!!