Beginner’s Guide – Start Here
Welcome to the wonderful world of points, miles, and credit cards (oh my!). Earning and redeeming miles can be done through a variety of ways, and not solely through actually flying on a plane. In fact, the vast majority of the points I earn are not via flying on paid airfare, and they’re extremely easy to earn. If you’re visiting this page you’ve obviously had your interest peaked. Now, what if I told you that you could earn enough points in one day for two round trip tickets anywhere in the U.S., or a first class ticket to Europe that typically costs more than $5,000? You can. In fact, that’s how I’ve been able to travel so much over the past few years.
Get paid to spend money!
If you have to spend money on necessary purchases for everyday living, why not get paid for it by using a rewards-earning credit card? By using a credit card to purchase items you’re already buying, you earn points that can be redeemed for travel or cash back. It pains me to see others use a debit card when they could be using a credit card and earning valuable points to use towards travel or redeem for cash back. Since this blog is focused on travel, my points & miles content will focus on travel redemption (such as the $5k first class ticket). However, cash back cards are equally important. In fact, I have friends who build their credit card cash back into their monthly budget based on their typical daily spend. Convinced yet?
Before you read further, you must understand the following: Using credit requires great responsibility. If balances are not paid in full every month, points are worthless. Interest and late fees far outweigh any spending bonus from using credit cards. If you do not pay your bills in full every month, then this is not for you. Equally, if you cannot control your spending and often spend beyond your means, then stick with using a debit card until you develop financially healthy habits. Your credit must be in good standing with a solid credit score (>700). Understanding your ongoing credit profile and constant management of your credit is essential to maximizing points and being financially healthy.
To enter the points world, you need to have a goal first. Do you want to fly for free? Do you stay in hotels often and want to earn free nights? Are you not much of a traveler and want cash back? Having an idea of what your goal is with earning points is vital, otherwise you’re collecting points in various ways and in different programs aimlessly. In addition, loyalty programs are constantly going through devaluations (by making the amount of points needed for a specific ticket, night, etc., higher), so maintaining high points balances in loyalty accounts is not a good idea seeing as the value of your points earned goes down the longer you hold onto them.
With that being said, let’s get started!
Part 2 – What card do I choose to get started?
Part 3 – Sign-up bonuses and how they work
Part 4 – How to redeem points for the most value