Let’s get Started in the Miles/ Points Game!
Lately I have been discussing how to get started in the Miles/ Point Game with some of my friends. Instead of just telling one person I thought I would just write a blog post on easy steps on how to get started. There are lots more advance tricks to maximizing your miles/ points but lets start with the basics for right now.
- Sign up for loyalty Programs- The first step in the process to travel for free is to sign up for frequent flyer programs and hotel reward programs. Just to give you a short list of the programs I am signed up for are: Airlines: Air Tran, American, British Airways, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, United and US Airways. For Hotels: Best Western, Club Carlson, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham. For Car Rentals: Hertz and National. For restaurants: Open Table. All of these can be obtained by going to the programs website and signing up online. Just don't forget your passwords and user names
- Make sure you get credit for flights/ stays- When you use these programs make sure they have your reward number otherwise you will not get credit. I have seen this happen all the time when you get busy with your life. If you forget make sure you call in and get it the hotel stay or the flights credited to your account. Every program is different but if you have the confirmation code you can get this placed in your account up to six months after your flight or stay. Check the program details.
- Use Awardwallet.com to track your rewards- This step is paramount to the game because if you don't track what you have how will you remember to use them. Awardwallet is a great web site. It tracks your programs and automagically updates them for you. It even sends you a weekly report on what programs have increased or decreased. Awardwallet also allows you to track for other family members miles points. Once you have signed up for the loyalty programs then sign up for Awardwallet and enter your accounts for easy tracking.
- Dream about your travel goals- This is the fun part! It is time to dream on where you want to go. Have you always wanted to take that dream Honeymoon to Ireland? Take a two week Mediterranean cruise? Where do you want to go? Make a dream list. The world is very small and with miles/points it is relatively easy to get there for your dream vacation. Start to dream! This will help you determine which programs you should focus on to make your dream a reality. For instance, if you want to go to Ireland you should focus on an airline that flies there rather than a regional airline such as AirTran or a hotel program that also has locations in Ireland.
- Understand Partnerships. Each hotel and airline has partners to fully be able to plan you must understand each group. Along with the hotel partners there a different levels of premium accommodations. You can also stretch you points further if you don't want to stay at the premium partners and with certain programs you can pay to cash and points. I will focus on partnerships in another blog post. Watch for it soon!
- Sign up for a good reward earning credit card. To play this part of game you need two things- Good credit and the ability to pay off your credit card each month. Sign up for a credit card that is easy to transfer points to different programs, has a large sign up bonus, and a low annual fee. When I recommend a credit card I often hear but it has an annual fee after one year. Why yes it does but if I get $2000 worth of points to fly my family to Hawaii it is worth the $95 annual fee. Plus if you don't like the card you can cancel prior to your one year anniversary and not be charged. Now some people do what they call credit card churning which is where they apply for 3-4 new credit cards every 3 months for the sign up bonus and minimum spend requirements. I currently don't do this, I like to hold on to my cards but will change when a new option is available.
- Put all your spending on credit cards– All your everyday spending should go on your credit card. If you have to pay an electrical bill you may as well earn points for paying it with a credit card. If you have to buy groceries then earn points by using a credit card that will reward you for spending money. Don't buy thing that you wouldn't otherwise purchase.
- Pay attention to bonuses and promotions- There are lots of point bonus and promotions out there so pay attention & sign up for the offer, read the details and perform the tasks. If you have to change where you are staying for a night or two to get a boat load of points then it is worth it. An example of this is the Club Carlson promotion this summer. By registering for the offer and staying at a Radisson, Country Inn & Suites, Park Inn or Park Plaza during a certain period. You could get enough points (44,000-50,000) to stay at the top end Radisson hotel all over the world (Such as the Radisson Mayfair Hotel during the summer Olympics!) Crazy but this is correct. We signed up for it and together we received over 7 free nights at Radisson properties.
- Redeem them– There is no reason to sit on a pile of miles or points unless you are saving for a dream trip. Use them otherwise some programs will change and the point/miles can expire or devalued. So book that next trip will all your new found miles/point wealth!
- Enjoy your life! The top reason I write this blog is to show others how easy it is to travel and live an extraordinary life. So get out there and live! Have Fun!