Overview for Getting Miles
When you start earning points and miles, it can be a little bit of a challenge to understand everything that you must do. However, it is best to think simply about the process. These 4 steps are the most basic way to think about points and miles when you are just beginning.
Sign Up for Free Hotel & Airline Accounts
The first thing to do is to create the actual accounts where your miles and points will be kept. Hotels and Airlines each have their own individual loyality account that you must sign up for in order to earn miles in each of these accounts. When you fly or stay at a hotel, you must be sure that this loyalty number is on your reservation to make sure that you are credited.
In basic terms, you earn one mile for every mile you fly – or with some airlines, you will earn miles based on the price of the ticket. With hotels you will earn points depending on how much your room costs. This is the most basic way to think about earning points and miles.
Apply for Credit Cards with a Sign Up Bonus
Credit card companies attract customers to use their card in many different ways. One of the most beneficial things they do is offer a “sign up bonus” for the card. As it sounds, the credit card company will give you a bonus once you sign up for the card. However, there is usually a minimum amount of money you must spend (Known as “Minimum Spend” or “MS”) in a set time frame in order to meet the bonus.
For example, Credit Card A will let you get 50,000 Airline Miles after you use the card to spend $2000 in the first 3 months of opening the card. There is an annual fee of $89 that comes with the card, and will be charged in your first billing cycle. However, if you complete the offer and spend around $200 per week on the card, and pay the bill without any interest, you will receive 52,000 Airline Miles for $89 and the time you spent researching the credit card. Depending on the Airline, this can give you 2 free round trip flights for 25,000 miles a piece to anywhere in the continental USA. So the $89 you spend for the first year will become much more valuable.
Meet the Bonus Requirements
Many credit cards require that you spend money with your credit card to earn miles. Sometimes the requirements are very basic, for example you will meet the qualification after your first purchase. Others are a bit more difficult, like meeting the requirement after spending $5000 in the first 3 months. In order to get the bonus, you must meet the requirement for each different card. After your spending requirements are met, your loyalty account will be credited with the points or miles.
Spend your Points and Miles
This is the most exciting part. Now you can use your miles to book flights and/or hotels. To do this, you will need to login to your online account with the airline or hotel where you have earned the miles, and look to see how you can spend them. Each hotel and airline have different prices for how many points or miles they will charge you to stay or fly with them. Hotels will use different categories for their hotels, and charge you miles according to what the hotels rank is. Most Airlines will charge you miles based on what regions of the world you are flying between. Some hotel companies have many more locations while others offer a better room and free breakfast. Some airlines offer better locations where you can fly using less miles, while others you can actually use on several partnering airlines too. It would be best to consider which miles and points program would be best for you before you start collecting them.
Again, this is a general overview. There really is a lot more information to share regarding each of these steps. However, this really is for people to get a better understanding of the process of earning and using points and miles.
Set Travel Goals with Points and Miles
Having travel goals can will motivate you to collect points and miles. Knowing where you want to go and how many miles it will take to get there helps to get you started earning miles and points. When I first started collecting points, I wanted to come home to see my family while living as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. I had earned miles by flying on Northwest Airlines (which later became Delta). The first time I booked an international round trip ticket from Manila to Chicago, it cost me 60,000 miles and $100 in taxes and fees. If I would have paid cash, it would have been over $1000. Since I was earning less than $5 a day as a volunteer, the points really came in handy!
That helped me to understand the importance of miles, and also having travel goals. Many people will choose to use miles for domestic flights. In the USA, a one way domestic ticket will cost around 12.500 miles, excepts flights to Hawaii and Alaska. A round trip ticket will cost 25,000 miles. Many of the good credit card offers are for 50,000 miles after meeting spending the minimum amount.
If your goal is to travel to Miami, Florida with your spouse for vacation, it would cost around 50,000 miles and $50-$75 in taxes and fees. It is possible to search on their website to see the exact amount of miles required. To earn this amount of miles, you would need to sign up for a 50,000 mile bonus credit card offer with either United or American Airlines. These promotions are not always available, but do often show up at least once or twice a year.
Setting goals can work with using hotel points as well. Once you know where you are going, you can find out how many points it takes to stay there. Or if you plan to travel at least once a year, it could be a good idea to get a credit card that gives you a free night every year.
When you are just starting out, it may seem like it can be difficult to fly you and your spouse to Miami for vacation. It may seem ambitious to think that you can stay at a hotel for 5 nights, and it will only cost you points. However, it is very possible. And the fastest way that these travel goals can become a reality is when you take advantage of earning miles and points bonuses offered by credit card companies.