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A key to faster achievement is to learn from the mistakes of others. That way you save time by not having to make those mistakes yourself!
Each Friday I post an interview with a miles & points blogger. And 1 of the questions I ask is, “What do you now know about collecting miles and points which you wish you knew when you started out?”
I went through the interviews and picked out the top 10 things folks wish they had known from the beginning.
As I look over the list below, #10 isn’t something we often think about. But maybe it ought to be #1.
10 Miles & Points Lessons I Wish I’d Learned Sooner
I noticed 9 main themes in the answers. And #10 wasn’t mentioned nearly enough. But I think it’s incredibly important.
1 – Make of the Most of the Best Deals While You Can
We’ve seen many great deals come and go, like:
- British Airways short-haul flights for 4,500 British Airways Avios points
- AMEX Small Business Saturday (no statement credits this year)
- Loading AMEX Bluebird and Serve with gift cards
Things move fast in the miles and points world. If something is a great deal, take advantage of it while it’s around.
I’ll always let you know about the best deals. It’s up to you to take action!
2 – Having a Lot of Credit Cards Does NOT Hurt Your Credit Score
In fact, using credit responsibly may even help to boost your credit score!
When you pay your bills on time each month and maintain good relationships with the banks, you’ll have an excellent chance of getting the best sign-up bonuses. This is the fastest way to earn more miles and points!
3 – Have a Strategy
It’s better to have a lot of miles or points in a single program instead of spread out. In other words, 20,000 points each in 5 different programs is usually NOT as good as having 100,000 points in 1 program.
4 – You Can Earn Sign-Up Bonuses Again
Most banks will allow you to earn fantastic bonuses on credit cards more than once. Except for AMEX personal cards – those you can only earn once per lifetime.
Each bank has rules for how long you must wait between opening and closing accounts. Keep every credit card for at least ~8 to ~10 months. Then decide if the card is worth keeping. Many times, it is!
If banks decide you’re only using their cards for the welcome bonus, they may deny your future applications.
Develop a strong relationship with each bank by paying your bills on time and keeping their best cards and no-annual-fee cards open.
5 – Use Shopping Portals to Boost Your Balances
When you shop online, ALWAYS click through a shopping portal if your merchant participates. It’s worth checking to earn extra miles or points.
It also extends the expiration date of your miles so you have more time to use them.
6 – Credit Partner Airline Flights to Your Main Mileage Program
When you know you’ll have only 1 or 2 paid flights on an airline, see if you can credit it to 1 of their partners instead of their mileage program.
For instance, if you have a paid flight on SWISS, earning miles in their program might not be too helpful. Instead, enter your United Airlines frequent flyer number. (Because they’re both in the Star Alliance.)
7 – When You Learn the Basics, Keep Learning the More Advanced Rules
Each mileage program has rules for how you can redeem your miles. It’s worth learning them. For example, United Airlines lets you build in a stopover or open-jaw, which makes your award ticket even more valuable.
8 – Airline Alliances Let You Fly Worldwide
Say you pick American Airlines to be your main airline program. But did you know you can book an award seat on partner airlines like Cathay Pacific, Finnair, or Qantas to fly to more places all over the world?
Most airlines are part of 3 main alliances. It’s worth knowing which airlines are included in each alliance. Some of our favorite trips have been on airline alliance partners.
9 – Always Get the Miles or Points
It doesn’t matter if you fly an airline once or have a stay in a hotel you think you won’t return to – always get the miles or points while you can. Because you never know when those miles might come in handy.
10 – The Best Use of Miles Is for What Brings You Happiness
Too often we can get caught up chasing the highest points redemptions possible…the international First Class flight, or the luxury hotel stay in an exotic location. And it’s fun to do that!
But it’s also important to use travel as a way to be closer to our loved ones.
It’s great to explore on your own, experience other cultures, meet new people, and learn about yourself along the way. It’s just as important to use what we’ve learned to spend time with Mom. Or absorb Grandma Vena’s last 3 lessons. Or to take your family some place new.
Scott Mackenzie’s courageous and touching post about his dad passing away reminded me of the importance of not taking family time for granted. And to use miles & points as a gift that allows us to to visit more often and travel together.
There’s always more to learn about this hobby. But ultimately, the best way to use your miles and points is for what makes YOU happy. And you can do that because there are so many ways to personalize how you earn and redeem your miles and points.
With that in mind, what do YOU wish you knew when you started collecting miles & points?