New to Award Travel?
Beginner’s Guide to Miles & Points
This page is to show people how they can start traveling for free with points and miles and how to start accumulating points for future trips
My wife and I pay very little to fly and stay in hotels around the world. We do this by collecting miles and points. We participate in a number of promotions, but the main way we earn miles and points is by signing up for credit cards which offer large sign-up bonuses.
Collecting miles and points requires a bit of organization and planning, but it’s very easy to do and we’re here to help you with any questions you may have.
Step 1 – Sign-up for miles and points programs
Sign-up for a few hotel and airline loyalty programs. There are many programs to choose from, but I recommend signing-up for just a few programs initially. You can always sign-up for the rest later on.
Make sure to copy and paste your account number, username, and password into an Excel or Word document to help with Step 2.
Step 2 – Manage your miles online
I recommend using AwardWallet.com to manage your miles. It is a free service, but with a small donation ($5 for 6 months) you get premium services such as alerts when your miles are expiring.
Simply sign-up for Awardwallet.com and enter in your username and passwords for your accounts from Step 1.
Step 3 – Credit card strategy & does applying for credit cards damage my credit score?
The easiest way to collect miles and points without flying is through credit-card mega bonuses (think 50,000 or more miles and points from just 1 credit card).
We have earned over 5 million miles and points in the last couple years from credit card sign-up bonuses and my credit score is still over 750. Credit cards are the easiest way to earn miles and points. Your credit score does decrease each time you sign-up for a credit card, but the effect of that is small (less than 5 points), and over the medium to long term your credit score improves because of the increase in available credit.
If you are not taking out a big loan in the next 2 years (equity, house, student, etc.) than apply for credit cards and build up a hotel point and air mile balance. If you are applying for a big loan in the next 2 years, than I would recommend very few or no credit card applications so as to ensure that you’re doing everything possible to get your loan.
According to MyFICO, applying for credit cards reduces your score usually by 3 to 5 points per application, but banks look at other factors such as how often you’ve applied for credit recently when they evaluate big loans. Much better in my opinion, to get that big loan first at the lowest possible interest rate, and then apply for credit cards.
If you do decide to apply for credit cards make sure to pay your bills off when they are due and to not pay interest. Paying interest on credit cards is a losing proposition – even if you manage to earn miles and points.