A Beginner’s introduction to the world of miles and points
This page will constantly be updated as I get more information or if there are any important changes available. I will continue to add links and updates to help you earn more miles and points
Getting Started with Miles and Points can be daunting. Here is a simple guide to help you get started earning Miles and Points. Credit cards signups provide a large boost of miles and points, but there are also other ways to earn these points. This Beginner’s guide will give you the basics to get you started with award travel.
Sign Up For Airlines and Hotel Loyalty Programs
This is a must do. Without frequent flier accounts or hotel loyalty programs, you won’t be able to earn miles and points for traveling. While some loyalty programs have no expiration dates for their points, most points will expire within 1 or 2 years of inactivity. Be sure to constantly stay up to date and prevent points from expiring.
Simply signing up for these programs ensures that you are earning points or miles anytime you travel or stay in a hotel. As of 2019, most airlines offer small amount of points for even the cheapest flights (basic economy). Even if you don’t plan on traveling anytime soon, it always better to have accounts created in case you need to transfer points to these programs.
Pro Tip: One easy way to manage all your accounts is to create an excel sheet and organize alphabetically so you don’t create multiple accounts for the same program.
Apply for a New Credit Card and Earn the Sign Up Bonus
The best travel credit cards come with a fee, but also come with a nice signup bonus and several cool perks. One of the easiest ways to earn a nice load of miles or points is by signing up for the middle tier travel cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred. In the beginning, I would stick to credit cards with transferable currencies such as Chase Points, Amex Points(American Express Membership Points), Citi Points, and Capital One Points. These cards often come with a signup bonus or 50,000 to 60,000 points and provide solid redemption value as you can redeem your points for travel or transfer the points to various airline programs to get outsized value. Make sure to keep track on your progress and always earn these valuable signup bonuses.
Pro Tip: When applying for a new credit card, you should check around for the best sign up bonuses. Sometimes a quick search can net you a better signup bonus than what other bloggers are promoting.
Pro Tip 2: Check in with friends and family to see if they are able to refer you for the card you would like. Your friend or family will net a referral bonus worth about 50-150 dollars.
Earn Cashback and Miles through Shopping Portals
Shopping portals are one of my favorites and help me earn a constant stream of cash back, miles, and points when spending for my small business. My favorite cash back shopping portals are Top Cashback and Rakuten. United, American, Alaska and several other airlines also run their own shopping portals. The airline shopping portals will periodically run small promos allowing you to earn an additional 500-1000 miles. A rather insignificant amount, but an easy way to earn some extra miles for a big trip. When shopping, be sure to check cashback monitor and compare the best cashback rates.
Pro Tip: Rakuten allows you to earn American Express Points instead of cashback at a 1:1 ratio. You must have an Amex Point earning card to do so, but this is a wonderful option.
To read more about my first attempt at manufactured spending click here
Manufactured spending is a job in itself and a wonderful method of earning thousands of points, but it can take some time. This tool is utilized by many “travel hackers” to not only meet signup bonuses, but to meet spending bonuses. Manufactured spending involves buying Visa gift cards, you can also do this with Simon Mall gift cards or MasterCard gift cards to some extent as well, and liquidating these gift cards via money order purchases. This is an effective to earn large amounts of points at a very low cost. There is a significant amount of risk since many stores have strict policies regarding money order purchases. I like the idea of manufactured spending, but I would recommend doing this is small amounts just to be safe. You don’t want to be left with thousands of dollars worth of Visa Gift Cards.
Example of Manufactured Spending:
Purchase Simon Mall Gift Cards using Chase Freedom Unlimited
Gift card amount:5 x $1000
Total Cost:about: $5,015
Liquidation Cost: $5
Chase Points Earned: 7,522 ($75.22)
Net Earnings: $55.22
*Chase points valued at one cent per point
As you can see, there is considerable value in manufactured spending. Stay tuned for a more in depth post on manufactured spending.