Points & Miles 101

Hypothesis: if you cycle through credit cards and do everything in your power to earn points and miles, you will earn lots and lots of them.

Secondary Hypothesis: free trips are better than trips you have to pay for.

To follow along with this experiment, you will require:

  1. A very good credit score (720+, ideally in the 770-800+ range);
  2. The ability to pay off all your monthly balances;
  3. The ability to hold off on big purchases that your credit score is required to make (e.g. refinancing a mortgage, buying a car);
  4. A spreadsheet and Internet award tracking resources like Award Wallet to track your spending and points and miles;
  5. Internet financial and credit score tracking resources like Credit Karma, Mint, and Credit Sesame;
  6. Internet points-earning resources like The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, Frugal Travel Guy (and, hey, like Points and Miles Beyond Hawaii!);
  7. A good deal of time and a manic determination to conduct all your spending via credit card.

What to do:

  1. Create a strategic plan and goals for points and miles earned; focus on specific targets. Typically air travel offers your best return values, followed by hotels, followed by cash back. Consider transferable credit card points systems like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.
  2. See requirements 1-7 above.
  3. Take advantage of every good offer, including points-multiplier opportunities, spending challenges, and other bonuses.
  4. Spend like you mean it.

Now, in and of itself, this little bit of guidance is basically useless. There’s really too much to go over in the space of a few paragraphs. For more comprehensive information, follow along with the blog series, The Basics. Links to follow below: