Beginners Guide To Miles and Points: Earning Miles & Points

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Beginners Guide To Miles & Points
What’s The Point?
How Loyalty Programs Work
Credit Cards and Credit Scores
Types of Miles & Points
Identifying Your Travel Goals
How Alliances Work
Credit Card Strategy For Beginners
Earning Miles & Points
Hotels Matter Too
What’s Next?

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:

  1. Sign up for programs
  2. Get more than one point for every dollar spent
  3. 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 two points per dollar on my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.

Coffee tastes better when it earns you miles!

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!

Next: Hotels Matter Too

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  1. FYI the links don’t work:
    – Shopping portals
    – register your cards with dining programs
    – promotions and bonus opportunities on the blog

  2. I know you focus on earning miles through long distance flights & credit cards, but what do you think of the gift cards several websites give out as promotions. I have quite a few of these & they expire 6 months after issue.
    Should i take a flight with them & rack up frequent flyer miles to secure indefinite miles/points? Some are limited to specific airlines like jetBlue/Trueblue cards, but others give you choice of miles, hotels & retail. What would be the best way to ‘spend’ these points/miles in order to get the most out of them in say the next three months? I have obviously not gotten into the ideal 11month booking window but i dont want to do a last minute retail binge just to use them either.
    In future I’ll book ahead & have the cards issued just before i need to pay for the trip, but right now I am just trying to find out how to get the most out of what i already have.
    Thank you in advance, I am really enjoying your site &am just starting to figure out how to work the frequent flyer systems & keep up with all the current programs & what they have to offer. I do like to fly & planning to accumulate as much as i can for a world tour in 2020. <Hows that for advance planning? 🙂

  3. Were you aware that according to the Award Wallet Site, they are no longer allowed to support the United Mileage Plus Program?

  4. @ Mattie Metropolis — Correct, unfortunately not all airlines let AwardWallet display account balances.

  5. Just getting started so take it easy on me! 🙂 As far as signing up for loyalty programs, do I need to sign up for every airline I plan to fly on, like Emirites, which you make look so good, or just where I am currently accumulating points, like SPG/Amex, Chase, AA, etc? Thanks!

  6. I always pay online to reserve an airline ticket I have been flying back and forth from Kentucky to Orlando from Orlando to Philadelphia for the last 8 months how do I go about earning Airline travels do I need an airline credit card any help or information you can give me with this question would be greatly appreciated thank you

  7. I have 170,000 points on my Hilton Honors and how do I redeem those points for my wife and I to fly on American to DFW in Dallas, Tx.? Thank you, Richard Canipe.

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