Should You Preregister for Loyalty Programs “Just in Case”?

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I’m the queen of my routine. I domestically fly (almost exclusively) American Airlines, US Aurways, and Alaska Airlines. If I stay at a chain hotel, its going to be of the Hyatt, Starwood, Marriott, or Hilton persuasion. And if I cruise, its likely to be on Seabourn. Because of that, I haven’t been one to preregister for loyalty programs.

Although I’ll admit it – when I first started traveling very heavily fifteen years ago, I sat down and did just that. I signed up for every airline and hotel that I’d ever heard of – and then realized the error of my ways when I missed out on a couple new account signup bonuses that came along before I’d ever had the opportunity to frequent those brands. So I backed off and decided to be more rationed in my approach.

But which is better? This week I got to test both sides.

First case scenario – I’m headed to Las Vegas this weekend for the Boarding Area blogger conference (affectionately referred to as BAcon). Our conference is sponsored by Hyatt and MLife and I’ll be housed at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino where the conference is being held. As a Hyatt Diamond, I realized that this gets me a comp to the second highest MLife tier. That’s great since I have severely curtailed my gambling in recent years so my MLife status is a mere entry-level Sapphire now. Only I had never linked my accounts when Hyatt first made the announcement!

Hyatt provides a way via the internet to link MLife and Hyatt accounts together – but that link is not working and my representative on the Hyatt Diamond line told me it would be down potentially for several more weeks. Thankfully there are workarounds, but it has cost me time not to have them connected already.

Perhaps I should have linked them sooner? Or maybe not. When I shared my dilenma with a few blogger friends, Gary Leff (of View From The Wing fame) shared with me that he’d waited and gotten a bonus opportunity to link HIS accounts. Hmmm… maybe I missed that email (I delete so many travel marketing emails every day) or perhaps I could have held out long had I not had an upcoming stay? It’s a quandary.

But then the opposite happened. I was flying United on Tuesday when I had the rare opportunity to take a paid bump off my confirmed flight. United originally told me they would rebook me on American, but decided to put me on Delta instead.

At that moment, I held zero lifetime miles in my Delta account (a new one I was forced to open when they couldn’t locate my old long-dormanant Delta account earlier in the year). But I had opened my account so I could link it via Starwood’s Crossover Rewards program that would give me some benefits should I need to fly Delta in the future.

As I quickly scanned my potential benefits while walking to the Delta gates, I realized I’d get priority boarding and a place on the upgrade list because I was in the program, which requires Starwood members to link their accounts at least 48 hours prior to their first flight.

In this case, preregistration helped me.

Am I now going to run out an sign up for every program out there? No – that’s unlikely.

But am darned sure that I am going to make sure I have optimized any cross-linkage promotions where it’s likely I could use them in the near future.

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

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  1. This is a great question indeed.

    For my story it was Starwood/Delta Crossover Rewards that I waited to register for.. and was targeted for a 5000 Starpoint bonus to register several months ago so I did. Made me glad I hadn’t registered earlier! (And since I don’t fly Delta much, I didn’t lose anything by waiting.)

    • If you call Hyatt Gold Passport, they have a process where they can submit it to MLife. You’ll need both your Gold Passport and MLife numbers when you call.

      As it turns out, their “workaround” hadn’t come through for me by the time I checked in so I took my Gold Passport number to the MLife desk at the casino in the hotel and they linked the accounts. One other note – they wanted to see my actual Gold Passport card, but they were willing to accept my account info page via the Hyatt iPhone app.

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