Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Corporate Programs for Personal Use

One benefit of working for a large corporation is that hotel, airline and credit card premiums may be available to employees. In addition, one may also be able to use the company's purchasing discounts for personal use.

Here are some of the premiums and discounts we get as employees:

Frequent User Points - We get to keep all airline frequent flier and hotel point awards. I am not a frequent traveler. However, I have colleagues who regularly achieve the highest frequent flier classification and have accumulated over a million miles worth of points.

I have accumulated enough points for multiple airline flights and a few hotel stays. I currently have several hundred thousand miles in a couple frequent flier accounts.

Key tip: Try to use one airline or hotel to maximize accumulation of points. To note, several airlines allow cross crediting of points.

Avoid: Making getting points the main priority. The biggest mistake I saw someone make was to not stay for a meeting that ran late because the later flight wasn't his preferred frequent flier provider.

Credit Card Rewards - Our company allows employees to earn rewards on our American Express corporate credit card. Any costs associated with the rewards points are paid by the employee. For our card, the Membership Rewards fee is $75, which is an increase from the $40 fee for last year.

Since my travel varies, I only register in when it appears I will have high travel for a year. Last year, I earned 40,000 points, which is worth $400 in gift cards. The cash back reward more than covered the $40 membership cost. Unfortunately, our company is cancelling its participation in Membership Rewards this year.

Key tip: To maximize one's return, don't initiate membership until just before a large purchase.

Rental Cars for Personal Use - Our company allows us to use the corporate agreements to get preferred rental car rates, including free collision and theft insurance. Occasionally, I will check and get a better rate on weekends. However, most times the corporate is the best, especially if I count the free insurance, which usually costs about $10 per day.

Key tip: Usually platinum credit cards and one's own car insurance will cover collision and theft is these should happen.

Business Discounts - A benefit that I just learned about is getting software, such as Microsoft Office, at our corporate rate, which is significantly lower than retail cost. Also, we sometimes get discounts on Internet, cellphones, and other local services.

Key tip: If one's company is a major employer in the area, it never hurts to check with local businesses if an employee discount is offered.

For more on Ideas You Can Use, check back every Tuesday for a new segment.

Photo Credit: morgueFile.com, Daniel T. Yara

This is not financial advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

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