Miles and Points 101 – Part 3: Getting your First Card and Spending your Points and Miles

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Beginner’s Guide To Miles and Points – Part 3

So now I hope you have the basic idea.  If you haven’t read Part 1 and 2 of my Miles and Points 101 Series you can find them here.  It’s time to pick out your first rewards credit card so you can earn and spend those points!  This is the fun part!

Miles and Points 101 - How to earn credit card, hotel and airline points and miles for free travel.
Where will your miles and points take you?

Miles and Points 101 – What card to get first?

It all depends on your goals.  But a safe place to start is with a transferable currency – Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints or Citi Thank you points.  You really can’t go wrong with any of these, but my personal recommendation would be to start with Chase or Amex points.  Each of these currencies transfer to a wide range of partners and can be earned with multiple cards.  I started with Chase points so they have a soft spot in my heart (yes, I realize they are just rewards points…but I still love them).

Chase’s transfer partners tend to fit in better with my current needs so they are my default at the moment.  I would recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 50,000 point bonus to start unless you have specific travel plans in mind.  If you prefer American Express points, the Amex Everyday Preferred is a solid card to start with.  However, the bonus is only 15,000 points right now so it’s not as lucrative as the Chase offers.  There are tons of other great cards out there.  These are just some basic recommendations for cards with a long list of transfer partners.  If you have specific travel ideas in mind and aren’t sure where to start, feel free to comment here for recommendations.


Chase Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners


American Express Transfer Partners

Earn and Burn

So now you have earned a hefty sum of points – Congratulations!  It’s time to spend those points.  While it can be tempting to hoard points to see how high you can get the number, it’s generally not a good strategy.  Points can (and will) be devalued at anytime, sometimes without warning.  They will generally never increase in value over time so it’s best to earn with a redemption in mind, then spend those points and enjoy a well deserved trip!

Let’s say you started off with a Chase Sapphire Reserve with a 100,000 point bonus (no longer available) and added a Chase Hyatt with 2 free nights in any Hyatt worldwide.  The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa has reward availability in April 2017 for 25,000 Hyatt points per night.  That means these 2 cards could get you 6 nights (4 paid with points, 2 with the free night certificates) FREE at this amazing resort in Hawaii.

Miles and Points 101- Learn How to travel for free
Beautiful views in Hawaii!

Maybe you want to make frequent getaways to Florida so you signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred with a 50,000 point bonus and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card with a 40,000 point bonus.  The Chase points can be transferred to Southwest giving you a total of at least 95,000 points (after meeting spending requirements on both cards).  I found fares between Columbus, Ohio and Ft Lauderdale, FL for as low as $134  or 8,020 points each way in March.  You would have enough points for 11 one way trips between Ohio and Florida with just these 2 credit cards!!

Relaxing on the beach -Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I hope you can see the awesome potential that even just a couple of rewards credit cards can have.  Now imagine a few new cards every few months.  I get giddy with excitement just thinking about it.  What cards do you plan to go after first?

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(Occasional updates, miles/points tips, and travel inspo)


Beginner's Guide to Miles and Points - Learn how to use credit card poitns, hotel points and airline miles for FREE travel