How to Maximize Travel and Earn Credit Card Points [101 Travel Tips]
Travel & Credit Card points is a very complex thing that has taken me years to somewhat understand how it all works. Every airline, hotel, and credit card have different policies and ways you can use those points.
This is a 2-part series where I talk about travel and credit card points and how it can help you travel for cheap.
In this post, I discuss in-depth how to earn a lot of credit card points.
I’d like to first point out first that Airline Miles and Credit Card Miles are very different.
Airline miles are accumulated normally through the actual miles you’re in the air. They are hard to collect unless you fly a lot. Here’s an example just give you an idea of how many miles you need to redeem a free flight. I recently flew Japan airlines 3 round trips before I had enough miles with JAL to fly one way from Asia to America. And note that I had to fly the same airline to accumulate those miles.
Most of the time even if you fly a few times a year, you will likely find better deals on other airlines.
Credit Card Miles
Credit card miles is what is being discussed in this article since it’s a lot more reasonable to attain. With bonuses, you can secure an award ticket normally a lot quicker than you think.
First, I think it’s important to note that collecting miles should never be your primary focus.
In other words, you should never consider buying a new gadget so you can collect more miles for your trip. Your cash is still worth so much more than whatever your miles can ever redeem for. And you don’t want to make the grave mistake of overspending to collect points. Frugal living and saving will still save you more than any mileage redemption can offer.
Having said that, here is how you collect a ton of miles very quickly with what I call, intentional spending.
Intentional spending just takes some research and understanding of how credit card bonuses work. If you combine it with an understanding of your own regular spending habits, you’ll be on your way to some amazing rewards. Let me break it down further for you.
How credit cards points (specifically bonuses work):
In less than 3 years, I spent over half a million dollars in paid credit card expenses on my companies. However, those miles I earned from spending still could not compare to the credit card points I earned from bonuses.
Here are two more recent examples,
1) With the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, it was offering a whopping 100,000 Chase miles. The spending requirement was $4,000 or more in the first 3 months.
I would have had to spend close to $100,000 to have gained the amount of miles the bonus was offering. Instead, I spent a little over $4500 (with the $450 credit card fee).
That deal was an incredible deal that unfortunately you cannot get anymore. However, a similar deal will still get you 50,000 miles. Though it’s a only fraction of the deal I got, it still is an incredible offer.
2) If you own a business, you can get the Chase Business Preferred card offering 80,000 miles with a minimum spend of $5,000 or more in the first 3 months.
Admittedly, getting these bonuses couldn’t happen “naturally” in my regular spending. But in just being intentional in my regular spending, it was manageable. Sure, I had to make a few adjustments. But it was well worth the sacrifice.
So where do you start?
Here is one way I would approach it:
Note that Credit Cards do have a limit on how many you can open within two years, depending on your Credit Score.
In general, Chase miles and AMEX miles have the most flexibility in terms of what you can spend points on. You can transfer to airlines if you want to save on flights. You can transfer to hotels if you want to use the points to book hotel nights. Or you can also use points for car rentals.
Generally, product or gift items have the worst transfer value so you want to avoid using points to pay for product. But if you needed the cash, of course you can also use those points to get cash back.
That being said, I would start with the Chase Card. The Chase Sapphire and Reserve card will get you over 100,000 points alone. These points can be transferred to several airline partners including Southwest, British Airways, Singapore Airlines, United, and more. It would be pretty easy to get the bonuses if you plan your spending in 6 months or less.
If you have a business, you can also qualify for the Chase Business Preferred Card. The card will get you 80,000 points alone.
AMEX points are also very valuable and can be transferred to a number of airline partners.
If you were to get all three Chase Cards and both AMEX Cards, the bonus points alone would be over 300,000 points.
After the Chase & AMEX cards, there are literally dozens of other cards you can get with awesome bonus mileage.
Some cards are more limited in what the bonus miles can be used for. But you’ll begin to learn what perks you get with each bonus and how to maximize the value you get from it.
I don’t consider myself a high spender but in less than a year, I’ve obtained the following bonuses:
Chase Ink Business Preferred Card – 80,000
Chase Reserve Card – 100,000
United Explorer Card – 70,000
AMEX Starwood Card – 40,000
AAdvantage Mastercard – 60,000
With the miles I get from spending and bonus categories, I’ll easily hit 250,000 miles this year. If you want to know what you can do with 250,000 miles, you can visit the article I wrote on 5 awesome ways to use 250,000 miles here.
For a list of Credit Cards and its bonus offerings, you can visit – http://milecards.com/1031/top-bonus-mile-offers-with-credit-cards/
Don’t forget on top of the initial bonuses, there’s so much more opportunity to earn points just through regular spending.
What are some ways you have collected a lot of credit card points? Share with us below!
The next part of the series discusses ways you can use a lot of the credit points you earn!