Many of us have to go on official military or government travel, some of us a lot of it, some of us very willingly, some of us grudgingly. Whether or not we enjoy our official travel, we all have to do it, and there is one thing that we all can agree on – we all like to get money back! There are probably many ways to do this, but I’m going to go over the three main ways I do this.
First, cashback portals. As I’ve said before repeatedly, if you’re shopping online, and you’re not using cashback portals, you’re wrong! What are cashback portals? They are gateway websites that you click through first, and then when you shop on a merchant website that is on that specific portal, you get a rebate, either cashback, or airline or hotel miles or points. The easiest way to find out if there is an available rebate on the merchant that you’re going to use is to check out the website Cashbackmonitor. I use a variety of cashback portals depending on who’s got the best rebate rates, but my two favorite are TopCashBack (this is a referral link) and Discover Deals. (I related in this post how I usually leverage Discover cash back for rental cars).
You can’t get cash back for airline flights, but that’s ok, since your command is usually scheduling your flight anyways. You can however, get big-time cash back on both hotels and rental cars, which will often be authorized on official travel but you’re in charge of scheduling it. Both hotel and rental car websites, as well as travel aggregators, such as Expedia and Hotels.com, are represented on cashback portals, so always search to see what kinds of rates you can get. Also, search multiple sites – for instance, if you’re planning on staying at a Hampton Inn, search for Hiltons, Hampton Inns, and travel aggregators, as they all have different rates, and you want to get the most money back.
Second, check your Amex Offers. Right now for instance, there are offers for both $75 back on $350 spent at Hiltons, and $30 back on $150 spent at Hilton Garden Inns. These are pure rebates, meaning that you spend the money upfront, and then you’ll get a statement credit later, usually only a couple days later.
Let’s say you’re on official travel (or any travel for that matter), and you were going to stay at a Hilton Garden Inn for a couple days, and the total bill was going to be $500. You could go through TopCashBack to reserve it, which offers 6.5% back on a Hilton stay currently. You could then pay for $350 of your stay with one Amex, and $150 with another. You will get a rebate of $75 and $30 respectively through the Amex Offers, and you’d get $32.50 from TCB, for a total rebate of $137.50 on a $500 hotel bill, a 27.5% rebate!
Finally, credit cards! If you’ve applied for and gotten the Citi Prestige credit card (non-referral link), they offer an amazing benefit, which is getting a statement credit for the fourth night on a 4 night hotel stay. It doesn’t work on every hotel, but in my experience (I’ve used this benefit now five times), it works on almost every single hotel that you’d want to stay in. Go to this link to see if your hotel is included. It’s especially beneficial if the last night of your hotel stay is more expensive than the other 3 nights. This rebate will show up within the next billing cycle, so expect anywhere from 2 – 6 weeks.
Also, if you have a card such as the Barclaycard Arrival + or the CapitalOne Venture, you can redeem points accrued on trave back as statement credits. Both cards offer a 40,000 point signup bonus, equal to $400 in statement credits, and both earn 2% on all purchases when redeemed for travel credits.
Hopefully this is helpful to most of you. If you have any other clever ways of getting cash back during travel, please relate them in the comments.