If you’ve landed yourself on this page you’re well on your way to a future filled with plenty of travel — luxurious or not! The constant theme not only here, but in all of my other posts, is the fact that there is not one right or wrong strategy to earning and burning credit card points and miles.
Which brings me to my first point.
What kind of traveler do you want to be?
You must first decide what kind of traveler you want to be, or more specifically, what kind of travel do you want to do. While you may read about a lot of the amazing first class products around the world, and all the wonderful champagne that you could potentially drink for free, maybe that’s just not realistic for you. And maybe that luxurious experience is a viable option, but those points could take you much further used elsewhere.
For instance, I recently flew to and from Europe in business class. It was an amazing experience — wonderful service, comfortable seats, plenty of rest — but I was also traveling alone. My mom on the other hand, an experienced points and miles enthusiast in her own right uses points for the rest of my family. So my one flight in business class is the same price as 3 economy tickets when she is booking it.
What I’m trying to get at, is the fact that every situation that I speak of in this blog may not cater to every person. I hope to provide insight and advice across all different situations, but understand that some may not be applicable.
Some things to consider when determining what kind of traveler you are:
- What are your travel goals when it comes to miles and points? Do you want to earn points to fly once a year, round-trip in first class across the world, but pay for all of your domestic short-haul flights, or do you just want to fly all around the US with your family of 5 but not have to pay?
- Do you travel enough (flights or hotels), to recognize value in elite status? This goes on a case by case basis, but for instance — some people may find value in elite status, to the point that it is worth signing up for a card that gets you status, but some people may not travel enough to justify that spend.
- How much are you willing to spend? As much as I can try to convince my friends and family in the true cost of credit card annual fees, for many that singular dollar amount is hard to look past.
- Are you a flyer? This sounds a bit counter-intuitive to this blog, but I do want to recognize the fact that some people would just rather stuff everything, and their kids, into a car and drive across the country than deal with the stress of airports. And for those people, credit cards can still present a ton of value.
So now that we’ve gone through the basic things to consider before diving into points and miles, let’s go over the basic beginning steps to success.
1. Sign-up for every frequent flyer/awards program
This is something I cannot stress enough. No matter how much you travel, or think you plan on traveling, you should sign up for every frequent flyer program you’ve ever heard of. The easiest part — it’s free!
And when I say every program, I mean every program. In the US, you should most definitely have accounts with every US carrier, because you never know when you may be flying with one of those airlines — and if you are flying with an airline you want to make sure you’re earning points with them.
But beyond that, it is a good idea to expand to airlines you may never fly. The first foreign carriers I would definitely sign up for are the airlines that you may have credit card transferring rights. For instance, I have had accounts with all Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners since I’ve had the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but I’ve only transferred my points to United and British Airways. So if you have a credit card earning flexible rewards, like Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership Rewards, go ahead and make sure you carry accounts with all of their transfer partners.
If you have been following the Iberia Avios’ monstrous promotion, where I was able to secure 90,000 Avios for about $290, you would know that having an active Iberia Avios account open before the promotion was a huge stress reliever! As soon as Iberia became a Chase partner not too long ago I signed up for an account — which allowed me to take advantage of their promotion without jumping through too many hoops.
So don’t let an amazing promotion get ruined because you were lazy in signing up for the card.
And this policy also stands for hotel programs as well.