Over at my blog Noob Traveler, I educate my readers on how they can travel like rock stars with rewards miles and points. My wife and I have been traveling like this for years now, and there’s nothing special about us. Trust me. I just know a few tricks and techniques when it comes to maximizing loyalty programs and rewards.
You can stretch out your miles and points for use on domestic trips, but I’m going to focus on the “sexy” today: International travel in Business or First Class. Oh yeah. I get excited just thinking about my next trip.
The flights to daydream about
I often find myself daydreaming about traveling to exotic destinations, and flying there in style. For me, the vacation starts when I board the flight. Champagne popping with the wife in an international premium cabin is hard to beat.
Through collecting reward miles and points, I’ve been able to fly some of the best products in the world. first class flights that are usually filled with royalty, sheikhs, mafia, or oil tycoons (you get the picture), not normal dudes wearing deep Vs. Some of the first-class flights I have taken would have cost around $14,000 a ticket! There’s no way I could (or would) pay close to that for a plane ticket.
Just this week, a reader emailed me beaming with joy because he was able to book two amazing first-class products. He and his wife are flying Cathay Pacific in first from Los Angeles to Hong Kong for 62,500 American Airlines miles and $7 in taxes per person! This ticket would cost them close to $10,000 each.
And on their way back, they are flying the grandaddy of them all, “Singapore Suites.” Here’s a picture of me living the dream in Singapore Suites last year.
How you can do it
Ok, so the value is crazy. But how can you do it? Let’s break it down.
I earn the majority of my rewards miles and points through signing up for rewards credit cards and then using them for my everyday spending. The perks are crazy with a lot of these cards, BUT before we go any further, a couple of things:
- You shouldn’t apply for any rewards credit cards if your credit score isn’t in good shape
- Don’t apply for credit cards if you can’t pay your bills in full and on time. Paying late fees and interest will negate any rewards earned.
Many rewards credit cards offer lucrative sign-up offers on their products to entice new customers. These offers range from 40,000 points all the way up to 100,000 points. Two of my current favorite rewards card offers are compared here.
Tip: My wife and I apply for the same rewards credit cards so we can double up on our earnings. Just a perk of being married.
We apply for multiple credit cards each year, so last year we earned over 1,000,000 miles. And, our credit scores are still in excellent condition! We monitor our credit scores for free through Credit Karma or Credit Sesame and manage all of our credit cards at Card Watchdog. Staying on top on your credit score and keeping good track of your cards is vital.
I know what you’re thinking. Many of these credit cards have minimum spending requirements. That’s true, a typical spending requirement for a card with a good sign-up bonus is $3,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. But don’t let that intimidate you. Many can easily meet spending requirements by simply running their everyday spending through their cards, but there are some cases where that might be a stretch. In that case, there are some additional ways to help you easily meet minimum spending requirements, as well as earn miles and points for EVERY dollar you spend.
Here are a couple of my favorite tips that you can utilize in earning mega rewards and fulfilling your travel dreams.
Amazon Payments has been around for a while. It’s trusted, tried, and oh so true. Amazon Payments allows you to send a payment to another person that has an Amazon Payments account for FREE with a credit card. You can send and receive up to $1,000 a month. My wife and I send each other $1,000 a month, so that’s $2,000 towards meeting spending requirements. So easy. Here’s my post that explains Amazon Payments in more detail.
I buy gift cards with my credit card to use for future spending. And often times, I’m earning 5x points per $1 on these purchases because I’m maxing out category bonuses on my cards. For example, I can buy a gas gift card at an office supply store and receive 5x points if I have a card that earns 5x at office supply stores. And I do! Grocery stores also sell many gift cards that can be purchased with a credit card, and many credit cards have a grocery store category bonus.
Bluebird is an online checking account from American Express and Wal-Mart. You can use Bluebird to pay any bill you may have- mortgage, auto loan, utility, and even credit card bills.
You can fund Bluebird with Visa gift cards that have a pin. It just requires you to go to Wal-Mart to load to your Bluebird account.
What are you waiting for?
If you wish you could travel more, or dream of traveling in style, then rewards miles and points can be your best friend. They have changed my life. I can’t believe the trips I can now go on because I have learned how to maximize my spending through credit cards. All while keeping my credit score in great condition.
This is just the tip of the iceberg to maximizing loyalty programs and points for insane travel. There’s managing and a lot of research (I can’t lie) that goes into playing this game, but the pay-off is definitely worth it.
I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t want to eat caviar 30,000 feet above ground?