As I mentioned at the beginning, I don’t make even a single purchase without considering the mileage earning implications. I also earn miles through flying, or through hotel stays, and try to take advantage of promotions as they come along. Travel isn’t free, so it makes sense to leverage the money you’re already spending, and try to maximize every dollar.
Simplified, my strategy is as follows:
- Sign up for programs
- Get more than one point for every dollar spent
- Pay attention to promos and bonuses
Register For Loyalty Programs
As a very first step, it’s important to sign up for loyalty programs and keep track of what points you have.
Bookmark the resources page for a list of the major loyalty programs, along with links to sign up for the various airline and hotel programs.
I like to use AwardWallet to track my balances and keep points from expiring – it’s a free service (though you can also pay for more features), and keeps track of all your account numbers and passwords, which makes this all much more painless.
Now that you know more about alliances and partnerships, and have a better idea as to where to accrue miles and points, it’s time to talk about maximizing the points you earn on the purchases you’re already making.
Earn more than one point for every dollar you spend
In general, I try to make sure I’m earning more than one point for every dollar I’m spending. This can be as simple as using a credit card that offers bonus points on a certain category, or shopping online through a portal to earn extra miles.
It can also make sense to purchase gift cards from retailer A to use at retailer B. I often purchase Starbucks gift cards at my local office supply store, for example, as I earn 5x points at office supply stores using my Ink Business Cash® Credit Card versus just 3x points per dollar on my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Of course, either scenario is better than using cash or a debit card!
Use Shopping Portals and Dining Programs
If you shop online, many banks and airlines offer shopping portals for cardholders that will grant you more than one point per dollar when you “click-through.” Using these shopping portals can be a great way to increase the number of points you earn for your purchases. Given how many retailers offer free shipping, or the ability to make a purchase online and pick it up in the store, this is a no-brainer way to rack up thousands more points per year.
Finally, make sure to register your cards with dining programs. Most of us won’t fund a full vacation this way, but dining programs can be a great way to earn bonus miles for eating out, and every last mile counts!
Pay Attention To Promotions And Bonuses
Airline and hotel programs often offer bonuses for flying certain routes, or staying a certain number of nights in a given period.
I highlight most promotions and bonus opportunities on the blog as they come up, and it’s important to register for these, even if you’re not sure of your travel plans.
Again, the idea here is to earn miles and points for your everyday activities. Once you’ve mastered that, it can make sense to look at additional ways to earn miles so the points really start adding up!