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5 Mistakes Most “Miles Newbies” Make

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It has been said that a wise person learns from their mistakes, and a wiser person learns from the mistakes of others.  For folks new to miles and points, it can be a bumpy road.  And it’s easy to get lost.

I want to help you avoid the same mistakes I’ve made (that’s why I started this blog!).  And set you up for success! 

It’s OK to Make Mistakes, but Avoid These Common Ones for Miles & Points!

Let’s take a look at a few of the most common missteps.  And get you on the right path to Big Travel with Small Money!

Common Mistakes Beginners Make

Link:   My Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points

Don’t expect to do things perfectly your first time.  You will miss out on some good deals while you’re learning.  And you might use points for something that you can laugh about later.

That’s OK!  But if you avoid these basic mistakes, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.

1.   You Don’t Have a Travel Goal

The first step in getting what you want is knowing what you want.

This is especially true in the miles and points world.  Because no matter where you want to go, there is a lucrative sign-up bonus that can get you there!

Miles & Points Make “Impossible” Dreams Possible, Like a Trip to the Maldives

Once you have a travel goal in mind, deciding whether to earn cash back, airline miles, hotel points, or transferable points becomes much easier.  Are you looking to fly Business Class to Europe?  Then transferable points will, usually, give you more options than airline miles.

But if you want to get away to a remote bed & breakfast, earning cash back is better than hotel points.

2.   You Don’t Understand the Value of Your Miles & Points

Link:   Airline Award Charts 

I had friends who were excited to get their first travel rewards credit card, because it came with a 20,000 mile bonus.  But they were disappointed to discover they couldn’t actually fly 20,000 miles in flight distance.  Because 20,000 frequent flyer miles aren’t even enough for a round-trip domestic award on most airlines. 🙁

Not all miles and points are the same.  Some you can only redeem for cash back.  Other points are more valuable because you can transfer them to lots of different airlines or hotels.

3.   You Don’t Know the Banks’ Application Rules

Link:   My Guide to the Credit Card Application Rules for the Major Banks

Banks have been getting stricter with their application rules.  But, banks are still businesses and they want you as a customer.  So you can increase your chances of successfully earning that next big bonus if you know what the banks are looking for before you apply.

Citi will only let you earn the sign-up bonus on one card from the same “brand” within 24 months.  Bank of America is restricting folks to 3 credit cards per year.  And you won’t be approved for most Chase cards if you’ve opened 5+ new credit cards within the past 24 months (although there are some exceptions).

When You Know the Rules, You Will Be Less Likely to Miss Opportunities

Some folks miss out on sign-up bonuses because they don’t report all their income.  And other folks don’t realize you don’t need a full-time business to get a small business credit card.  There are lots of part-time ventures that will qualify as a small business.

4.   You Take “No” for an Answer

When you’re trying to earn a big credit card bonus and your application is denied, it’s disappointing.  But you shouldn’t stop there.

I usually recommend calling the bank’s reconsideration line, even if your application is in pending status.  Team member Jason was recently approved for a new card by calling in and answering some of the same questions from the application!

It can be scary to ask for something or question authority.  But not taking “no” for an answer doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk.  It’s about giving yourself the freedom to ask a few more questions.

5.   You Don’t Get Because You Don’t Give

Credit card sign-up bonuses are the easiest way earn Big Travel with Small Money.  And developing a good relationship with the banks can go a long way in getting your applications approved.

So if you’re shopping for a mortgage or investments, consider a bank you want to earn points with.  Sometimes you can even earn a bonus by opening a bank account!

And don’t get lots of credit cards only to cancel them right after you get the sign-up bonus.  If do you this, the banks could cut you off.  

If You Don’t Want to End up Empty-Handed, Try Being Generous

Giving something goes a long way in helping you get something.

Million Mile Secrets team member Scott took a long time before applying for cards with annual fees.  Because he didn’t like the idea of paying the bank to use their credit card.  But the perks have saved him much more than he’s paid in annual fees.  And because of the benefits he keeps lots of his cards year after year.  This helps his credit score and his history with the bank!

Bottom Line

If you’re like me, you’re not very good at something the first time you do it.  So I started this blog to help folks understand how miles and points can get them Big Travel with Small Money.

If you are new to this community, don’t worry.  You don’t have to make the same mistakes I did.

If you have a travel goal, understand the bank’s rules, and know what your points are worth, you are on the right track!

What mistakes did you make when you started collecting miles and points?

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)