If you're a business owner, it's probably time you took a vacation.
When’s the last time you planned a vacation?
If you’re like most small business owners, then it has probably been awhile. Half of all small business owners don’t take any vacation time, and of those that do, the majority take only five days off per year. There’s a tendency for small business owners to feel that they need to work around the clock to get results, but it’s actually beneficial to take the occasional break from your job. Time off is shown to reduce stress, improve your overall health, and make you more productive. To be at your best, you should take at least one or two vacations every year so you can come back to work feeling refreshed.
The key to actually taking a vacation is planning it in advance. Those who plan their vacations are 12 percent more likely to use their time off than those who don’t, and that’s why Project: Time Off has declared January 31 as National Plan for Vacation Day. There’s no better time to start planning your next trip, and there’s no better way to finance that trip than with travel rewards.
Why Use Travel Rewards to Plan Your Next Vacation?
Financing a vacation can be one of the biggest obstacles preventing people from taking time off. Luckily, airlines and hotels have been catering more and more to reward travelers over the years, making travel more accessible. Not only do you get the best flight and hotel deals when you book your trip using rewards, you’ll also be getting the highest return on your points. Redeeming 25,000 reward points could get you $250 cash back, or you could use it on a $500 round-trip flight. It’s the same with hotels, as 40,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points can get you a five-night stay in a hotel that normally costs $150 per night.
With all the different rewards programs on the market, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. Start by figuring out where you want to go. Once you have a destination in mind, enter your trip details into a reward-travel planner to see how much that trip costs in reward points or frequent flyer miles with different rewards programs. You can then determine how long it would take you to earn those points/miles at your typical monthly spending, and see what credit cards are available with each program.
Using Your Normal Business Spending to Earn Points/Miles
For most businesses, earning the necessary points/miles is easy, especially with all the sign-up bonus offers available through business credit cards. It’s not uncommon for card issuers to offer 50,000 bonus points/miles or more if you meet a certain spending minimum within the first three months of obtaining your card. By putting all your usual business expenses on your card, you can accumulate a large number of points in a short amount of time.
To cover your flight and hotel with reward points, you have two options: you can open one credit card in a versatile rewards program with numerous transfer partners, or you can open multiple credit cards, each with their own reward options. For example, you could choose one card for flight rewards and one for hotel rewards. The former option is easier to manage, but the latter allows you to earn multiple sign-up bonuses.
If you want to keep it simple and avoid dealing with multiple spending minimums for separate sign-up bonuses, stick to one business credit card. Consider applying for a card in the Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Rewards, or Starwood Preferred Guest programs, as all three have quite a few transfer partners. You’ll be able to transfer your points at a one-to-one or better ratio to any of your program’s transfer partners, making it easier to book the flights and hotel stays that you want.
Would you rather earn as many points as possible? Pick out a few business credit cards with the largest sign-up bonuses and apply for them. You can apply for them at the same time if you’re confident you’ll spend enough to hit all their minimums, or spread the applications out if you can only handle one spending minimum at a time.
New York to Paris in Three Months or Less
Here’s an example of how easy it is to book a vacation using only reward points, traveling from New York to Paris:
- Apply for the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card, which offers 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
- Transfer 50,000 points to the KLM Flying Blue program with Air France, and then use them to purchase a round-trip ticket from New York to Paris.
- Transfer 30,000 points to the Hyatt Gold Passport program, and then use them to book two nights (costing 15,000 points per night) at a category 4 Hyatt Hotel, such as the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile.
That’s only using your bonus reward points, which you’d earn right after you hit the spending minimum. You could lengthen your stay if you spent a few more months accumulating reward points. If you are able to pay off your monthly balance on time and don’t mind opening up multiple credit cards, another option would be applying for a hotel credit card, such as the Chase Hyatt card or one of the American Express HHonors cards for more rewards to put towards your hotel.
It may seem counterintuitive, but taking time off will actually help your business in the long run. When you put in long hours every day, eventually you’re going to burn out and your performance will suffer. Spending a week away from work gives you a chance to decompress and come back with more energy than you had when you left. By using rewards to book your trip, you don’t even have to worry about the cost, as your business spending can cover your largest travel expenses.
American workers take far fewer vacation days than they did in the past, but a break will be just as beneficial for your employees as it is for you. Not only will it help with productivity, but it will also boost morale around the office.
Image from sebra/Shutterstock.