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Folks sometimes tell Emily and me it seems like we have an unlimited amount miles & points to book award travel. We wish that were the case. Because it would help us make memories on more trips to destinations around the world!
The truth is, our miles & points strategy is similar to what we recommend to y’all. We earn lucrative sign-up bonuses on travel credit cards. And we take advantage of spending promotions and other deals that can help boost our miles & points balances!
And once you learn a few ins and outs of booking award travel, you can potentially stretch your points for more trips. Or travel in Business Class, like team member Harlan did on a recent trip to Europe.
I’ll share tips to help you increase your miles & points balances, so you can save money on travel!
Earning Sign-Up Bonuses Is a Terrific Starting Point
The top way to earn airline miles and hotel points is by unlocking sign-up bonuses on the best travel credit cards.
An insider tip to earning sign-up bonuses it to apply when a card has a limited-time offer. Because the extra miles or points can get you more Big Travel with Small Money!
For example, you can currently earn 80,000 IHG points with the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. This is 20,000 more points than the regular offer. These extra points can help you get an additional night at many IHG brand hotels!
And the more valuable sign-up bonuses you earn, the easier it will be to book free travel. Remember, you can apply for lots of cards and still keep an excellent credit score. Check out team member Joseph’s post about the 15 credit cards in his wallet, which helped him achieve his travel goals!
6 Tips to Increase Your Miles & Points Balances
While sign-up bonuses alone can get you fantastic trips, the following tips can help you maintain a stash of miles & points. This way, you can save money and travel more frequently!
1. Boost Miles & Points Balances Spending for Your Small Business
Folks with small business credit cards have lots of ways to earn miles & points. Besides valuable sign-up bonuses, these cards have excellent bonus spending categories. This means you can earn points faster making purchases for your business.
For example, team member Meghan uses small business credit cards to earn points for her vacation rental business. While team member Harlan earns bonus points using small business cards to host on Airbnb. And team member Keith sells on eBay, so he earns points purchasing products to resell.
You can check out my post with other quick small business ideas that can help you make money and earn miles & points!
Remember, many small business cards do NOT appear on your personal credit report. So it’s a great way to earn a sign-up bonus on a new card and avoid Chase’s strict application rules.
2. Spending Promotions
Sometimes credit cards offer spending promotions. For example, you might earn bonus points by spending in certain quarterly categories. Or the bonus might require you to meet a spending requirement in a set timeframe.
If you can’t meet the spending requirement with your everyday purchases, you might consider buying gift cards. For example, team member Scott has a card that ran a bonus on supermarket spending. So he purchased gift cards from that supermarket that he’ll definitely use later in the year.
Be sure to bookmark our Recent Deals page because we’ll remind y’all when these promotions are going on!
3. Use Points Wisely
I never suggest hoarding your miles & points. Because rules and award charts are always changing, which means a good deal today can be gone tomorrow!
That said, using your points wisely can make them last longer. Keep in mind, everyone has different travel goals, so there’s no right or wrong way to use the rewards you earn.
Before team member Keith was miles & point savvy, he remembers using a ton of United Airlines miles to upgrade a paid domestic coach ticket to Business Class. In hindsight, it wasn’t a good deal because he could have saved money and miles by booking the same ticket as an award flight.
4. Sharing Is Caring
Once you get experience using credit card miles & points to book award travel, you’ll likely be excited to share your knowledge with friends and family! And having loved ones with miles & points might help if your loyalty accounts are running low.
For example, team member Keith helps his parents apply for travel credit cards to earn lucrative sign-up bonuses. His parents don’t travel as frequently as Keith, so they usually have miles & points available. When Keith is running low on miles, he asks his parents to use their airline miles to book award flights for him.
5. Use Credit Card Combinations to Maximize Points Earning
Having multiple flexible bank point credit cards gives you an opportunity to earn lots of valuable rewards. This includes transferable points programs like AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou.
Because each credit card within these programs has different bonus spending categories. So you can pair cards to maximize your earning on everyday purchases.
For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite points program. To earn lots of points with this program, I use 3 different cards depending on where I’m making a purchase.
I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on travel and dining purchases. And I use the no annual fee Chase Freedom to earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,500 in spending in the rotating quarterly bonus categories.
And for non-bonus spending, I use the no annual fee Chase Freedom Unlimited because I earn 1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which is better than the 1 point per $1 I’d earn with the Sapphire Reserve or Freedom.
Knowing which card has the highest return for spending in categories like supermarket, restaurants, entertainment, and travel can help you earn points faster!
6. Jump on Limited-Time Promotions!
Besides earning points with credit cards, you can sign-up for deals with hotel chains and airlines when they’re available.
For example, in the past, team members Scott and Jasmin earned thousands of IHG points by mailing in postcards for a promotion with the hotel chain.
You don’t have to be a full-time travel blogger to have a stash of miles & points. 😉
Unlocking sign-up bonuses on the best travel credit cards is a great starting point to earn valuable rewards to book free travel. Keep in mind, you can apply for lots of cards and still keep an excellent credit score.
Folks who seem to always have miles & points available for award travel usually dive deeper into the hobby. For example, you can earn lots of miles & points with spending for small business spending. And don’t miss out on spending promotions and deals to boost your loyalty account balances.
Another tip is to use cards that get the best return on category specific spending. Because Chase Ultimate Rewards is my favorite points program, I use a combination of the Sapphire Reserve, Freedom, and Freedom Unlimited, to maximize the points I earn on every purchase.
Do you have any secrets to share that allow you to travel frequently using miles & points?