We All Know the Value of Southwest and Hyatt – but You’ll Miss Out BIG by Ignoring Less Popular Brands and Card Issuers

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Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  I can’t believe how they keep getting better.

They’re already far and away the most valuable points to collect, because you can use them with the ABSOLUTE BEST airlines and hotels.  One of my favorite uses is with Hyatt, where you can reserve multiple nights at powdered sugar beaches, ski lodges, and even castles just from the points you’ll earn by opening cards like the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and earning their bonuses.

Hyatt is rapidly adding to the list of enticing 5-star hotels you can reserve with points by adding a fun partnership with SLH hotels.  I thought the partnership was going to be a yawner at first, but after digging in, it’s awesome.  I’m SO glad I listened to the pros when I was a rookie and collected Chase Ultimate Rewards points first.

There I go again.

Musing about the impossible value of miles & points.  This entire hobby sounds WAY too good to be legit.

I used to love telling folks how I flew to the Philippines for ~$6.  Or to Turkey in Business Class for ~$34.  Most would ignore me like I’m distributing communist literature.  Others now have 6-figure points balances and haven’t paid for a flight since they decided to trust me.

I Transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines and Flew to Peru for Free

If you don’t fully understand something, you’re likely to avoid it.  Even if you’re into miles & points, there are plenty of things you might shy away from just because you don’t totally get it.  And you could miss out on lots of free travel!

There’s More to Miles & Points Than Just Hyatt and Southwest

If you’re a miles & points fanatic, you belong to a minuscule percentage of society.  We all took a big chance buying into all the sensational success stories, and everything turned out to be true!

The lesson here is to LISTEN to the pros when they tell you a deal is worthwhile.  Don’t let any preconceived notions hinder your Big Travel.  We should all have learned when jumping into this hobby to throw our assumptions out the window and just give stuff a try!

Here are a few ways of thinking that will slow your progress toward achieving your travel goals.

Collecting Obscure Points You Think You’ll Never Use

You’ll occasionally hear of a deal about certain airlines you’re unfamiliar with.   Don’t dismiss it if your favorite bloggers are saying it’s good.

For example, for the longest time I ignored Iberia (the national airline of Spain).  But after taking advantage of a good deal and examining the airline, it’s now perhaps my favorite Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer partner.

Same goes for hotels.  Hotel programs like Wyndham and Choice aren’t exactly known for their contributions on @beautifulhotels.  You know them more as the kinds of hotels you find along the highway (such as Super 8 or Comfort Inn).  But both these programs can save you BIG.

For example, stocking up on Choice points is just about the best thing you can do if you’re planning to visit Scandinavia.  Choice has great hotels in that area with very reasonable award prices.  And the cash price is outrageous!

Choice also has a brand of interesting hotels called the Ascend Collection.  You can use your points for a whole bunch of beautiful hotels and resorts!

Stay at Elizabeth Oceanfront Suites, an Ascend hotel Collection Member, for Stunning Views Along the Coast of Oregon

Beware of Certain Credit Card Issuers

Both Capital One and Barclays have a reputation for being tough when it comes to approvals.

Barclays very rarely approves someone for more than 2 credit cards per year.  And they are less likely to approve you for a card if you’re not spending with your other Barclays credit cards.  Capital One’s approach is more of an enigma, but folks report they’ve been denied cards even with an excellent credit score.

I have 2 Barclays credit cards and a Capital One card.  Barclays denied me once, I applied 6 months later, and I got the card I was after.  WHO CARES if you’re denied?  Your life changes zero if you have a denied application every now and again.  It happens to everyone.

One of the biggest beefs miles & points hobbyists have with Capital One is that they pull your credit score from all 3 credit bureaus.  Every credit pull very slightly affects your credit score in a negative way.  So applying for a Capital One card will theoretically do the most damage to your credit score.

Just so you know, this is extremely, extremely temporary.  You might see your credit score drop by a few points, but it will be back (and perhaps better than before) within a few months.

If It Ain’t Chase or AMEX, It’s a Waste of Time

Despite what you might think, more banks than just Chase and AMEX issue worthwhile travel credit cards.  Yes, those banks have the best of the best, but if you’ve opened all the cards you want from them, check out Citi, Capital One, Barclays, and even Wells Fargo and Bank of America!

A few good picks are:

  • Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card (Bonus worth $300 after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months)
  • Citi Premier℠ Card (Bonus worth $625+ in travel after meeting minimum spend requirements and when redeemed for airfare on thankyou.com)
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard® (Highest-ever bonus worth $700 in travel after meeting minimum spend requirements)

The information for the Capital One Savor Cash Rewards card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


I Used the Bonuses I Earned From Capital One and Barclays to Offset the Costs of My Trip to Barbados

Applying for Small Business Credit Cards

Earning welcome bonuses from small business credit cards is one of the most effective ways to boost your miles and points balances.  And qualifying for a small business credit card is easier than you think.

First, you’re NOT required to have significant revenue and profit to get approved for a business card.  Keith’s friend was instantly approved for the Ink Business Preferred after listing just a few hundred dollars in profit for his eBay side business.  Others have reported being approved for several American Express small business cards with $0 in business income.

Just know that you must have a for-profit venture to be eligible.  This includes gigs like:

  • Airbnb host
  • Babysitter
  • Dog walker
  • Freelance graphic designer
  • Handyman

You can apply for business credit cards with just your name and Social Security Number.  This is considered applying as a sole proprietor.  So there’s no requirement to have a formal business name or EIN (Employer Identification Number) – although you can register for one to get more small business cards.

Bottom Line

If you don’t fully understand something, it’s understandable to be a little scared of it.

I look at myself and realize how my assumptions have affected my journey in miles & points.  There are lots of things about this hobby that sound intimidating, unfruitful, or even boring.  For example:

  • You skip a deal because it’s in a points currency you’re not familiar with
  • You avoid applying for credit cards from certain issuers because they are “tougher”
  • You assume credit cards that aren’t talked about as often aren’t worthwhile
  • You don’t apply for small business credit cards because you don’t think your side gig makes enough

This hobby is all about stretching your comfort zone!  Experience new cultures with your airline miles.  Rub shoulders with the wealthy inside 5-star hotels with your points.  Continue to try new deals and angles and promotions for getting Big Travel with Small Money!

We’ll ALWAYS tell you when something good pops up.  Lose your preconceptions and get in on deals you normally wouldn’t, and you’ll find your miles & points knowledge balloon, and your free travel skyrocket.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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! :)

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