It's pretty late in the game to land free reward seats on already–overbooked flights this month, but you can use reward points to save on holiday travel even if you're driving. With gas averaging $3.46 per gallon in the US, a road trip can seriously cut into your shopping budget. Here are some creative ways to get home (or escape from home) on the cheap this holiday season:
Get rebates on gas: As part of BP's Pump Rewards program, cardholders can get double rebates driving home for the holidays at participating gas stations from December 23 to 28. For example, if cardholders have 25 cents in "Cents per Gallon Rebates," rebates increase to 50 cents, for up to 20 gallons per transaction. Chase launched the Pump Rewards Program in March.
Get two percent cash back on gas and dining: With the Discover Open Road credit card, you get an automatic two percent cash reward on the first $250 spent on gas and restaurants each billing period. This card comes with no annual fee and no interest on purchases for 14 months, so you don't have much to lose.
Rent a car for 30 percent off and earn hotel points: If you're a member of Best Western's loyalty program, or register for free now, you can get a 30 percent discount on a Budget rental car and earn up to 2,500 Best Western rewards points at the same time. (Free room vouchers start at 8,000 points.) This deal is valid through June 30, 2013, for Budget rentals in the U.S. When you reserve your car, be sure to use the code BCD #U187001 along with your Best Western membership number.
Rent a car for five dollars per day: If you're planning a weekend getaway between now and December 31, you can rent an economy car for as little as five bucks per day from Hertz. Here's how: as part of its Weekender Special, Hertz offers a weekend rate of $15 per day if you pick up your car between Thursday and Sunday at participating locations and use the code XCT1. Additionally, if you're in Hertz' #1 Club Gold, use code 176396 when booking, and save an additional $10 per day, up to $40 per rental. This deal is valid through December 31, 2012.
Rent a car and get free upgrades: Rent a car from Enterprise through December 20 and get a free double upgrade. An economy car (Chevy Aveo) costs $83 per day at LAX, for example, but with this deal, you'll get an "intermediate" car instead (Toyota Corolla). This upgrade won't show up on your reservation but will be honored when you pick the car up, assuming cars are available in those classes.
Fodors.com contributor Cathleen McCarthy writes about travel and rewards for Amtrak ARRIVE, Town & Country, CreditCards.com, The Washington Post, WSJ, and inflight magazines. Follow her @clmccarthy.
Photo Credits: Mans Hand Filling Car via Shutterstock