How to Get Started Collecting Points!

Congratulations! You are one step closer to earning thousands of dollars in free travel with points by making the decision to click on this post. Before you click away, I promise this is not a scam, nor is it too good to be true, so please give me 10 minutes of your time, and I can explain what this hobby is all about and how to do it yourself.

What is the Points and Miles Game?

Travel and credit card companies have loyalty programs where they give you points and miles for spending your money with them. In turn, you can use these points and miles on free travel. While it’s true you need a lot of points for free travel, the travel and credit card industries have a lot of competition, and thus, they’re willing to give you huge initial sign up bonuses for signing up for their credit card and loyalty programs. Many of these sign up bonuses give you enough points for a round trip airline ticket or several free nights at a hotel.

A common misconception is that you need to travel to earn miles and points, but this is not true. While those who travel for work have a huge advantage over those who don’t, you can still earn hundreds of thousands of miles by not setting foot on an airplane or sleeping one night at a hotel. In this blog, I’ll help both the road warrior and non road warrior alike earn hundreds of thousands of miles.

Basics of the Points and Miles Game

Earn points and miles by doing the following:

  1. Sign up for free airline and hotel loyalty programs to collect points whether it’s for vacation or work travel.
  2. Sign up for rewards credit cards.
  3. The more credit cards you sign up for, the more rewards you earn. I sign up for credit cards every 3 months and my credit score is still above 750 (qualifying me for the best mortgage and car loan rates).
  4. Use cash back and points portals, such as Ebates.com on every online purchase earning you cash back and points for purchases you’re making anyways.
  5. Sign up for point earning dining programs, where you sign up and earn points at participating restaurants. The best part is, after you sign up you can set it up on your account and forget it. They take care of the rest.

Spend points and miles on free travel
Use hard earned points and miles for free airline tickets and free hotel stays

It’s a little work, but it’s all pretty basic right? Making point and mile collecting a hobby is not difficult and can be done by anyone. The best part about it is that it does not require you to spend or save any extra money in order to travel for free.

In full disclosure, to earn the best redemption’s such as first class tickets to Australia, you’ll need to dedicate sometime to this hobby every week, but even those who don’t have the time, can still earn a good chunk of free travel by just doing the basics. In other words, what you put into this hobby is what you get out. Either way you’ll come out way ahead.

Questions You May Have

Now you may have a few questions brewing in your head, so let me cover the most common questions people have, when I talk to them about the points and miles game.

Doesn’t signing up for credit cards regularly hurt my credit score?

-No, signing up for credit cards regularly will not lower your credit score. In fact, if you follow my tips, it’ll actually increase your credit score.

Do I have to keep signing up for credit cards every few months to keep earning free travel?

-No, while you won’t earn as many points this way, there are still several credit cards that are so rewarding that they can earn you a couple of vacations for free every year by just putting all your regular day spending on them.

 

What Do I Need?

In order to earn points, you’ll need two things:

  1. A great credit score
  2. Money to spend on every day bills

This hobby does not require much. If you don’t have a great credit score, don’t fret. I can help you with that too.

How to Get Started?

My recommendation is you get your feet wet with this hobby before you jump right in. Don’t sign up for 25 credit cards right away, that will get you nowhere. This hobby does require a little strategy since a few banks have certain restrictions and you’ll need to meet minimum spending requirements to earn sign up bonuses on credit cards you signed up for. My recommendation is to do the following in this order:

1) Check your credit score

A good credit score is vital to this hobby, otherwise you’ll not be approved for the best credit cards. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for Credit Karma and Credit Sesame. They let you monitor and check your credit for free. See how many credit cards you’ve signed up for in the past two years while you’re there. Most reward credit cards require a credit score of at least 700-725 to get approved.

2) Check your finances

I recommend you check your finances before jumping into this hobby for two reasons. First, you’ll need to know how much money you spend monthly. The reason I say this, is because most credit cards require you spend a certain amount of money on the card, in the first couple months of having it. If you can’t meet the spending requirement, you shouldn’t apply for the credit card, but don’t worry, not all credit cards require spending a huge sum. Second, this hobby requires you use credit cards. If you currently have or have had trouble in the past with using credit cards responsibly, this hobby is not for you. While you can earn points, you’ll also rack up huge interest bills.

3) Sign up for Chase credit cards first

Chase is the most strict bank of all when it comes to credit cards. For many of their cards, they will not approve you if you’ve signed up for more than 5 credit cards in 24 months. This is called the Chase 5/24 rule. Because of this, it’s in your best interest to sign up for Chase cards first, then move on to more lenient banks such as American Express and Citi.

Your first credit card, in my opinion, should be the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Sapphire Preferred does come with an annual fee, though it’s waived in the first year. If the annual fee scares you, sign up for the Freedom Unlimited. You’ll have to overcome the fear of signing up for cards with annual fees though, because otherwise you won’t earn much free travel. Travel cards with annual fees are much more rewarding than cards with no annual fees. Most travel cards waive the annual fee the first year, so you can test drive the card, and if you don’t get your worth from the card, you can cancel it without having to pay an annual fee. This will not hurt your credit score.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

chase sapphire preferred

(Picture courtesy of Chase)

  • Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in 3 months
    • Worth $850 when you transfer your points to Southwest or worth $625 in free travel when using the Chase Sapphire Portal
  • Earn 2x per $1 on all travel and dining purchases, Earn 1x per $1 on all other purchases
  • The card comes with travel insurance so if you cannot make it to on your trip, Chase will reimburse you for your non-refundable travel purchases (for qualifying events such as sickness, severe weather, etc)
  • Access to 11 Chase Travel transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Hyatt, and more
  • Earn a 25% bonus on all purchases redeemed through the Chase travel portal
  • Annual Fee: $95 though the fee is waived the first year. Think of it as a free test drive. I can walk you through cancelling your credit card after a year, if you don’t feel you got your worth from it (though I doubt you’ll feel this way)

Chase Freedom Unlimited

chase freedom unlimited

(Picture courtesy of Chase)

  • Earn $150 or 15,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $500 in the first 3 months
    • The Freedom Unlimited card is technically a cash back card, though it earns Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed as cash back.
    • You can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards points, to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which will let you utilize the 11 Chase travel transfer partners.
  • Earn 1.5x per $1 on all purchases
  • This card DOES NOT give you access to the Chase travel transfer partners
  • This card DOES NOT earn the 25% bonus through the travel portal
  • This card DOES NOT have travel insurance
  • Annual Fee: $0

4) Use the credit card for any purchase you can

You should be putting any purchase you can on a credit card. This is for two reasons. First, you’ll earn points on any purchase you make on a credit card. Second, credit cards offer fraud protection, unlike most debit cards, so if you’re credit card number is stolen, you won’t be liable for any purchases you didn’t make on the card.

5) Earn your first credit card sign up bonus

Keep tabs on how much you are spending each month to make sure you are hitting the spending threshold for the sign up bonus. If you are short on your spending, consider preparing a few bills such as car insurance, phone bills, etc. that you would end up spending your money on anyways. Never spend money just to spend money as this defeats the purpose of earning free points.

6) Take your first vacation on points!

Nothing beats the satisfaction from taking a trip for free. This hobby requires a little work, so I recommend you use your points to show yourself this hobby it worth it. I suggest your first redemption should be flights with Southwest or a hotel stay at Hyatt. All you’ll need to do is create Southwest or Hyatt accounts if you don’t already have them, link your accounts on UltimateRewards.com, then transfer your points to either Southwest or Hyatt. Only transfer the amount you need. Most points transfers go through within 15 minutes, so you can start booking to see how many points you’ll need, then transfer the points and complete the booking once the transfer is complete.

 

What questions do you have? I don’t call myself Points Tutor for nothing, so please ask me any questions you may have on the Ask Points Tutor forum or down below in the comments. You can also reach me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

-Points Tutor