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Beginner’s Guide

So you’re ready to start traveling for free with points and miles. It’s simple to start earning them, but it can also be daunting at times. This Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points will help you lay down a solid foundation and framework so you can start earning and collecting miles and points.

It’s incredibly easy to collect miles and points from credit card offers once you’re set up. Once you start you’ll be on your way to flying and staying in first class hotels for a fraction of the price (or free).

Follow these easy steps, and feel free to jump ahead if you are more experienced with miles and points. As Always, feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me at themile@welltraveledmile.com!

STEP ONE – Define and set your goals

Figure out your goals and set out to achieve them! Are you a college student wanting to backpack around the world on your breaks or take an around-the-world trip after graduation? Do you want to take your entire family on a trip? Or visit relatives and friends more often? Set goals to remind yourself of why you are collecting miles and points – after all it’s not like you’re putting in this time and effort to let those points collect dust. These goals will help you stay motivated and realize that you can  reach them with a little bit of time and effort.

Taking the trips that you have dreamed about will be reality once you set out to work towards your goals of earned miles and points. There will be some setbacks and unsuccessful promotions; this is when you have to step back and look at the big picture and the long run. By setting goals you will see your progress of earning miles and points and the taking the trips that you never thought you would be able to.

STEP TWO – Sign-up for miles and points loyalty programs

Sign-up for as many hotel and airline loyalty programs that you foresee yourself using. There are a multitude of programs out there, so I recommend signing up for a handful of programs that are convenient for you to use on a more regular basis. Focus on the airlines that fly out of your local airport.  As you progress in your quest for miles and points you can easily add more loyalty programs to your bunch if needed.

STEP THREE – Manage your miles and points online

A simple way for you to manage all of your miles that you will soon be racking up is to use AwardWallet.com. The major benefit of using AwardWallet is that you can keep track of all your mileage accounts from one central location. It’s a free service and will definitely make it easier on you to keep track of all your miles.

STEP FOUR – Check your credit reports and credit scores

The easiest and quickest way to accumulate a lot of miles and points is by sign-up bonuses and obtaining reward credit cards. There is no denying the fact that this is the most lucrative strategy – and if done right can amount in a heap of miles. Before you decide to take this route it is a good idea to double-check where your credit report and scores stand.

A free and easy way to do this is to get your free annual credit report from each of the three credit bureaus by using Annualcreditreport.com. It is also a good idea to get an idea of what a FICO score is and how different scenarios change it. You can get a free estimate of your FICO score from CreditSesame, Quizzle, or Credit Karma. I regularly use these sites to monitor my credit score and accounts.  Credit card companies don’t give out a minimum FICO score needed, but a score above 700 will result in the most success when applying for new credit cards.

STEP FIVE – Take advantage of credit card bonuses

Start by applying for one or two reward credit cards with an excellent sign-up bonus. Some of my favorite rewards credit cards are the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Getting 25,000-75,000 miles or points from a sign-up bonus is a great way to launch your miles and points collection. This way it’s easy to get $500-$1,500 in free travel from each credit card offer you’re approved for. After you obtain your first couple good reward credit cards I recommend taking it slow until you have reached the minimum spending requirements and receive all reward miles and points you signed up for. Then rinse and repeat.

STEP SIX – Use the credit cards and hit minimum spending requirements

It can be common that the credit card you are approved for will have a minimum spend requirement within the first couple of months, but not all credit card offers will have a minimum spend (you can literally earn a free flight or two for buying your morning cup of coffee). If there is a minimum spend it is easy to meet these requirements by moving your new credit cards to the front of you wallet and using them for everyday purchases. Also by using reward credit cards for everyday purchases you will benefit because you will be earning points on every dollar you spend. Make sure you pay off your credit card bills when they are due and not pay interest – paying interest on credit cards will far negate any miles or points you mange to earn.

STEP SEVEN – Now that you have started to earn miles and points start planning your travels!

Once you have enough miles or points to redeem for a trip, use the many mile and point blogs and forums (FlyerTalk.com and MilePoint.com are good ones) to help plan your trip. Learn how to get the most for your points during your traveling so that you spend almost nothing out-of-pocket.

STEP EIGHT – Visit The Well Traveled Mile daily and sign up for my free email blog updates

Our focus is to keep things simple, making the mile and point world much easier for you! Sign-up to get free travel and credit card tips directly to your inbox and learn the best ways to earn and use airline miles and hotel points. You’ll never miss an update on the best sign-up bonuses and deals!

3 comments

  1. Realistically it would be ideal to give yourself a minimum of 3+ months to earn the sign-up bonus before you book an award flight. The major factor is finding saver award space after the bonus miles have posted to your account ad generally the farther out you book the better availability.

  2. I travel a lot but never really bothered with miles, I probably should!

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