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Are you a travel hacking myth-believer? Do you believe the ONLY way to earn thousands of miles and points for travel is by signing up for an endless number of credit cards with huge sign-up bonuses?
Or maybe you’re someone wondering how you’ll ever earn enough miles and points for an award flight without paying for lots of airline tickets first.
You might even be asking yourself why you should travel hack in the first place? Is it even worth it to earn miles and points for travel?
In this guide, let’s assume you already have a travel rewards credit card or 2. You’ve met the minimum spend and earned the sign-up bonus.
Now what? How do you keep earning miles and points to make your travel dreams a reality?
5 Ways to Earn Thousands of Miles and Points for Travel
I’m betting you already spend money on everything from gas to groceries, cell phone bills to car insurance, and everything in between. It’s time to earn thousands of miles and points by leveraging the power of your everyday expenses.
Spend smarter, not more, and make your money work harder for you by bringing a return in the form of travel rewards.
First things first. Remember that travel rewards card or 2 you already have, as mentioned above? Time to put them to work.
1. Responsibly use your travel rewards credit cards for ALL of your bills that accept them and for ALL of your daily expenses.
Instead of linking your bank account or debit card to pay a bill, link your travel rewards credit cards and pay them off each month just like you would have if the money had come out of your bank account. This includes everything from an iTunes song to pet food, to your home internet bill and renewing your Amazon Prime Membership. Use cash to pay for something ONLY when absolutely necessary.
Remember, pay off whatever you spend each month. Paying interest fees month after month will negate the value of the miles and points earned.
One method is to deduct your credit card charges from your checking account as you go. This way your checking account shows the amount of money you will have once you pay your credit card bill at the end of the billing cycle.
Even though it may not seem like a lot, the money you spend on your morning coffee, a bottle of Gatorade, or greeting card add up over the long term and so will the miles and points you earn. When you’re trying to book that award flight and you’re a few miles short, you’ll wish you had used your travel rewards credit card for all your everyday spending!
2. Take advantage of credit card bonus categories.
Most travel rewards credit cards offer additional miles and points earning for spending in particular categories. Do you know what bonus categories your credit card has? If your credit card gives 2x the miles or points for gas, like the IHG Rewards Club Visa, use it for all your gas purchases. The Chase Freedom has rotating bonus categories typically including 5x the points for supermarket spending. When that bonus comes around, use the Freedom card for all your grocery purchases.
Think outside of the box on this one, too. If a credit card gives you 5x the points at grocery stores or hardware stores, for example, remember these stores often have gift card kiosks. You can buy gift cards for a wide range of stores and even restaurants. Then, use them for your own purchases or give them as gifts. You can even use purchased gifts cards to make purchases within shopping portals to earn even more miles and points.
What are shopping portals, you ask? Keep reading. 🙂
3. Use airline, hotel, and credit card shopping portals to maximize your purchases.
Airlines, hotels, and possibly even your credit card offer shopping portals to increase the number of miles and points you earn per dollar spent. Shopping portals list hundreds of participating merchants, many of which are stores where you likely already shop. For example, stores include Petco, Macy’s, Best Buy, and Gap. The difference is because you shopped through a particular portal, that airline, hotel, or credit card will give you a specific number of miles and points for your purchase. Spending $50 at Petco in the United shopping portal might earn you 150 United miles. Or $900 on a TV at Best Buy could earn 1,800 American Airline miles.
Mile and point earn rates change frequently so it’s best to compare between different shopping portals, as well as keep your travel goal in mind to help you decide which shopping portal to use. Also, look out for promotions where you can earn bonus miles like during back to school or the holiday season. You should even consider using the MileagePlusX App to earn even more miles and points.
4. Earn miles and points with dining rewards programs.
As with shopping portals, airlines and hotels participate in dining rewards programs. Simply join an airline or hotel’s dining rewards program and register your travel rewards credit card to your account. Whenever you dine out or order in, use that credit card to pay. If the restaurant participates in the dining rewards program, you’ll earn 3-5x the miles or points for every dollar spent.
Even better, register a travel rewards credit card with a dining bonus category. You’ll earn the bonus category miles or points from your credit card AND the bonus from the dining program, too.
5. Look for promotions and deals with airlines, hotels, your credit cards and their partners.
Additional miles and points earning opportunities come up frequently. You just have to be proactive and know where to look. Sign up for loyalty program and bank emails and follow their social media accounts. Check the loyalty program sections of their website for partner offers. Follow blogs like Doctor of Credit who post daily about timely deals and promotions. Log into your credit card accounts for special customer offers.
Airlines, hotels, and credit cards offer bonus miles and points for things like completing surveys, shopping at specific stores, ordering flowers, signing up for satellite TV, renting cars, and buying wine. Banks may even offer credit card holders the chance to earn additional miles or points per dollar in a specific bonus category or at a particular store.
The bottom line is, by using your travel rewards credit card for all your bills and purchases, you add tremendous value to the money you already spend. The miles and points you earn because of spending smarter can absolutely help you achieve your travel goals, saving you thousands of dollars on trips you might not have taken otherwise.
How do you maximize the number of miles and points you earn?
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