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It’s no surprise that because we’re all leading different lives, we require different strategies in the miles and points world.
And if you’re like me and enjoy planning, this hobby can be very rewarding!
No matter how you approach your strategy, make sure whatever you’re doing has purpose. Just because something is flashy and “limited”, does necessarily make it right for your needs.
Let’s dive into where I’ve been, where I am, and where I’m going in this seemingly vast and, ever so slightly, confusing miles and points realm.
Where I’ve Been
The year was 2017, and love was on my mind. I was ready to take the next step in my relationship by buying a ring and asking for my lady friend’s hand in marriage. But, for the life of me, I could not stomach the huge expense of an engagement ring without a little something for myself. It’s not like I get to wear the ring. 😉 So I set off to find out how I could get a discount or earn something with my purchase. I had been using the Target RedCard for a few years, so I knew those plastic cards could help offset your purchase.
I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card online. But when I did, something weird happened and my desktop crashed. So I drove 5 minutes to the nearest Chase branch and applied in person. In ~2 weeks, I received 2 Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cards, Chase had accidentally opened 2 accounts in my name! Rather than panicking, I called Chase and they said they’d honor the welcome bonus for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months on both accounts, even though you could technically earn it once.
I bought the engagement ring and split the purchases over the 2 cards and voila, 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points were in my account!
Since then, I have opened up cards such as:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Chase Freedom
- Chase Freedom Unlimited (downgraded 1 of the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Cards)
Wait, there’s a business card in there! You caught me 🙂 Fortunately, most people qualify for business cards without realizing it! I’m a freelance writer, a re-seller, and a consultant, so I easily met the requirements to open the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card, which led me right to the coveted Southwest Companion Pass.
This has been very helpful, especially since that lady friend has since become my fiance.
Where I Am
I’m a frugal man, but enjoy the finer things in life. These two things rarely align. However, in the miles and points world, somehow you can have the finer things in life and be frugal!
For me, it’s all about understanding what my travels goals are, and how I can best align those goals with my finances. For instance, Chase will NOT approve you for their best cards if you’ve opened 5 or more credit card accounts (from any bank) in the past 24 months (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards).
And because of some ill planning on my part, I may have used up those 5 or more credit card slots earlier than I would’ve liked. Hindsight is 20-20. Fortunately, I qualify for small business cards and those have been my main focus until I’m back under Chase’s limit.
I recently applied for The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express since I hadn’t had an AMEX Membership Rewards card up until this point.
A major key to miles and points is diversification. It’s likely that no single program will allow you to reach all the goals you seek. So by opening cards within multiple flexible programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points and AMEX Membership Rewards points, you can transfer your points to other loyalty programs, giving you access to virtually every loyalty program. And if that doesn’t float your boat, you can use your flexible points to purchase travel directly through the Chase Travel Portal or with AMEX Pay with Points.
So for now, I’m taking advantage of AMEX Once per Lifetime Rule by signing up for cards that have large welcome bonuses and match my goals. Like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, which comes with:
- 75,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spend
- 1 free night award every year after your card account anniversary, which you can redeem at hotels worth up to 35,000 points per night
- Waived annual fee the first year; then $95 (See Rates & Fees)
The free night offsets the annual fee in subsequent years, so it’s a no-brainer for me since I can easily make use of the free night.
Where I’m Going
As I mentioned, foresight and planning have a huge impact in how I approach my miles and points strategy. For example, my sister is getting married in Hawaii in a few months. My sister admitted she had picked Hawaii because it is expensive and hard to travel to from the East Coast, so less family would be tempted to travel.
Ha, the joke is on her! Because you and I know something she doesn’t. Miles and points can help me get to Hawaii.
My fiance and mother will need to get there too, so let’s think this through. What’s the best way to get to Hawaii?
- How to fly to Hawaii with Marriott Points
- Our Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Award Flights
- Flying to Hawaii with Southwest
Remember that Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card I opened? Well, I can use that to fly to Hawaii from the East Coast by transferring the Marriott points I earn to an airline. I can even use my transferable Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. And lastly, I can use my Companion Pass to fly myself and my fiance to Hawaii, should the Southwest routes open in time for the wedding.
So you can see how diversifying your arsenal of miles and points can be a major help with both known and unknown future goals. I’m happy knowing I can get my mother, fiance, and myself to Hawaii for just taxes and fees!
My past, present, and future within the miles and points world will look different than yours, but I hope you can gain some insight knowing my personal strategy.
Focus on being purposeful with your goals, and make sure what you’re doing is the right choice for you!
And remember, diversifying your miles and points and using transferable rewards like Chase Ultimate Rewards points never hurts. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card remains our favorite card for beginners in this hobby! Nearly all of us have it.
Oh, and participating in a community like this can help spark ideas and is a great place to give and receive advice, so feel free to drop in a line below.
For rates and fees of the SPG Amex Business Card, click here.