Update: Some of the credit card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our travel rewards card page for the latest offers.
You can travel for free on miles and points, and you can earn 100,000 miles or points in 60 seconds without leaving home.
- Earn 100,000 Miles or Points in 60 Seconds Without Leaving Home
- Credit is Your Most Valuable Possession
- Pay Your Bill In Full
- Spend Money to Get Miles and Points
- Every Dollar Counts
- Ways to Meet Minimum Spend Requirements:
Earn 100,000 Miles or Points in 60 Seconds Without Leaving Home
In this five-part series, you’ll learn how to maximize your frequent flyer miles and hotel points allowing you to travel for free.
Part 3: Points vs Miles
Part 4: Mad Max: Ways to Maximize Miles and Points
Part 5: The Best Credit Card
By simply applying for one airline or hotel branded credit card you can earn 100,000 miles or points without leaving home. A list of current airline and hotel branded credit cards along with how many miles you can receive is provided at the end of this post. But before you apply for an airline or hotel branded credit card, here’s what you need to know.
Credit is Your Most Valuable Possession
Your credit and credit history can make or break you. Having a good credit score opens doors. Having a bad credit score can wreck your life.
a) Effects of a good credit score:
- have your cake and eat it too: access to more credit
- how low can you go: lower interest rates on loans
b) Effects of a bad or low credit score:
- just say no: denial of credit and loan applications
- legal loansharking: you’ll pay higher interest rates on loans
- homelessness: you may be turned away by landlords and have difficulty finding a place to rent
- Unemployed: you might not get that dream job
- Can you hear me now: you might not be able to get a cell phone contract
You can get a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com
Curious about your credit score? You can get your FICO score and a copy of your credit report from MyFico.com. When you order your credit score through MyFico.com, you receive a free 10-day membership in Scorewatch. You must cancel this membership within the 10-day trial or you will be billed $14.95 a month until you cancel, with a three-month minimum. So potentially this free credit score could cost you a minimum of $29.90. ($14.95 x 3)
Pay Your Bill In Full
If you’re going to play the credit card game, you should only do so IF you can pay the bill in full every month. Because letting it ride is for losers. If you are only paying the minimum on your credit cards, getting an airline or hotel branded credit card for the free miles is a bad idea.
The point of obtaining an airline or hotel branded credit card is to get miles and points for the “free”. Technically free miles and points is a misnomer since each card requires a minimum spend to receive the miles or points there is a cost involved*. The goal is to get as many miles and points for the least cost.
Paying interest because you can’t pay your bill in full each month increases your cost for the miles and points.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card gives you 60,000 Ultimate Reward points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Those 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points will cost you $4,000 or $0.05 cents per point (cpp), assuming the bill is paid in full each month.
The same 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points, without paying your bill in full at an interest rate of 16.24 to 23.24 percent will cost you $649.60 to $929.60 in interest at a minimum of $0.086 cpp, assuming you only fail to pay your bill in full one month.
*These cards used to have exceptions to the minimum spend (in alphabetical order). But now they have a minimum spending requirement:
- The British Airways Visa Signature® Card offers 100,000 Avios points: 75,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months; another 25,000 points after spending a total of $20,000 in the first 12 months.
- Ink Business Cash® Credit Card offers $750 after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months
- IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card offers 140,000 points + 1 Free Night after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.
- Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines Visa signature card offers 20,000 Hawaiian Airlines miles after first purchase.
- Hilton Honors American Express card offers 80,000 Hilton Honors points after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first three months. Terms Apply.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card offers 5 free nights after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.
- United℠ Explorer Card offers up to 70,000 miles: 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months; another 10,000 miles after spending a total of $6,000 on purchases in the first 6 months. No annual fee during your first year.
Spend Money to Get Miles and Points
You have to spend money to get miles and points. Don’t waste money charging items to an airline or hotel branded credit card just to earn miles and points.
Learn how to maximize your travel rewards with smart purchasing. Get an airline or hotel credit card if you’re planning an upcoming purchase that will satisfy the minimum spend requirements.
Every Dollar Counts
If you don’t have a large purchase coming up and still want to get an airline or hotel branded credit card here are some ways to meet the minimum spending requirements by putting everything you can on a credit card.
Ways to Meet Minimum Spend Requirements:
Rent or Mortgage
You can also pay your auto loans via Plastiq.
Utilities: Electric and water
Most utilities will accept credit payments with a small fee. My electric company charges a flat fee of $1.50 when using a credit card for payment. So I will pay in advance for several months. Not only does this meet the minimum spend for one credit card, it saves me in fees and reduces my cpm to $0.01.
On the other hand, my water company charges a flat rate fee of $4.95 and you can not pay in advance with your credit card. You can also pay your utilities via ChargeSmart. The fee is set by the lender, I’m going to assume it averages 3%.
Cable and Phone
Insurance such as home or renters, car and medical insurance can be paid with a credit card. Contact your insurer and see if they will let you charge your insurance to your credit card.
Life insurance companies generally won’t let you charge your premium to a credit card, at least mine doesn’t. If yours does, please leave a comment with the name of your insurance company.
Owe money to Uncle Sam? Charge your federal and state taxes to your credit card. Here’s a list of IRS e-pay providers; fees vary among providers. Some states will allow for credit card payments. Check with your state to find out how.
You can get bonus miles and points when you eat out at certain restaurants.
You can get bonus miles and points when you shop online. Read my post about eshopping to learn more.
You can also pay your student loans via Plastiq.
Some colleges and school accept tuition payments by credit card. Most charge a service fee. If the fee is greater than 2.5% it’s cheaper to use Plastiq.
*Long list short, to get the most miles or points from your airline or hotel branded credit card and/or to meet the minimum spend, you should charge everything.
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