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Traveling is an exciting and enriching experience, but it can also be an expensive affair.
However, what if I tell you that there’s a frugal way to travel to stunning destinations without breaking the bank?
Yes, it’s possible, and it is through traveling using credit card points.
This method offers excellent opportunities to save money on vacations by leveraging credit card points, airline miles, and other tactics to secure discounts and freebies.
I’ve been using credit card points to get discounted flights and free hotels for over a decade now, and they have completely transformed my life.
I can travel the world in style and without emptying my wallet.
In this blog post, I will explain how traveling with miles and points can be a frugal yet adventurous way to explore the world.
So, buckle up and get ready to learn about the art of using credit card points.
What is Traveling With Miles and Points?
Traveling using credit card points is simply the art of using miles, points, and loyalty programs to travel for free or at a reduced cost.
It involves taking advantage of generous credit card welcome bonuses and rewards, which can eventually be redeemed for free or discounted air travel, hotel stays, car rentals, etc.
Instead of using cash or debit cards for daily essentials and basic expenses, points enthusiasts use credit cards to earn travel points from their purchases.
With careful planning and smart spending habits, you can generate a lot of travel miles & points by taking advantage of credit card reward programs.
It’s a proven strategy that allows travelers to maximize their perks while traveling without spending a fortune.
The concept may seem overwhelming initially, but anyone- including you- with the right strategy and knowledge – can become savvy in this hobby.
Travel Using Credit Card Points is the Perfect Fit for the Frugal Tourist
Clearly, the most obvious benefit of this hobby is the financial savings.
Using miles and points instead of cash on your travels can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
This means you will have more money to put towards other experiences or future trips.
Additionally, using credit card points allows you to travel in style without paying a premium price tag.
With free upgrades and access to airport lounges, you can make your travels even more comfortable and enjoyable.
Traveling using points also opens up opportunities for travelers who may not have been able to afford specific trips otherwise.
By accumulating enough miles and points, you can visit dream destinations that are ordinarily out of your budget.
So, if you are terrified of spending loads of cash but also have a compulsive need to explore the world, then this hobby is definitely for you.
Indeed, I view utilizing credit card points for travel as the point where frugality and wanderlust converge.
Traveling with miles and points represents the marriage of the two.
Travel Using Miles and Points
You have probably heard about frequent flier miles and points.
This hobby is about accumulating these travel points using a different method.
Every major airline or hotel brand has a loyalty program to encourage consumers to return.
The more points return customers accrue, the higher their chances of getting rewarded with free stuff – typically free flights or hotel stays.
But what if you rarely fly or stay in hotels?
Previously, the only way to accumulate these “loyalty” or “frequent flier” points was to fly with the same airline or stay in the same hotel every time.
Thankfully, that is just now a thing of the past.
Anyone can earn frequent flier points by accruing miles and points through travel credit cards.
These points are enough to pay for a round-trip flight to Europe for 2.
That is the reason why leveraging travel credit cards is a gift to frugal tourists!
Anyone can earn frequent flier points without ever stepping foot at an airport or a hotel.
Leveraging Credit Card Points For Travel
As mentioned above, credit cards are one of the best ways to accumulate miles and points.
Many credit card companies offer welcome bonus points when you spend a certain amount within a specified period.
These bonuses can range anywhere between 50,000 to over 100,000 miles & points!
By strategically applying for credit cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements, you can quickly accumulate enough miles and points to redeem them for free flights and hotel stays.
Taking Advantage of Limited Time Elevated Offers
Credit card companies and banks often introduce temporary elevated offers that are worth considering.
I take advantage of these offers by only applying for credit cards when the welcome offers are elevated.
This includes instances when the welcome offer gives additional points or extra perks, like free night certificates or elite status, are included.
Besides the welcome bonuses, many credit cards also offer bonus points for spending in specific categories such as travel, dining, groceries, etc.
These bonus categories can help you earn more points even on everyday purchases.
Research and choose a credit card that offers bonus points in categories that align with your spending habits.
One of my favorite business credit cards is The Ink Business Cash® Credit Card, which offers 5x rewards per dollar on purchases at office-supply stores and certain utilities.
Some travel credit cards may have an annual fee, but the benefits and rewards can significantly outweigh this cost.
Be sure to evaluate the perks and bonuses offered by each card before making a decision.
Depending on your travel goals and preferences, paying the annual fee may be a wise way to earn more points and benefits.
One of my favorite credit cards that charge an annual fee is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. Despite its $395 annual fee, the credit card offers various perks, including a $300 annual travel credit, a 10,000-point anniversary bonus, and exclusive access to premium lounges. It is an incredibly generous card.
Business Credit Cards
Establishing a lucrative side hustle is one effective strategy to boost your potential for earning points.
Having an additional source of income can help you qualify for business credit cards, which offer various benefits and rewards programs.
This way, you can maximize your points-earning opportunities and unlock even greater perks.
If you are not currently running a small business or have doubts about approaching a business credit card application, this guide will provide a step-by-step walkthrough of the process specifically tailored for sole proprietors.
Leveraging Loyalty Programs
In addition to credit cards, loyalty programs offered by airlines and hotels present an exceptional opportunity to amass miles and points.
These programs provide a range of advantages, including the ability to earn miles or points for every flight or hotel booking, the option to redeem them for complimentary flights or hotel stays, and even access to elite status benefits such as complimentary upgrades and airport lounge access.
And it’s usually free to sign up for these loyalty programs.
So, even if you are not a frequent traveler, it’s worth joining various loyalty programs to start earning points for future travels.
For example, Hyatt members earn 5 Hyatt points per dollar every time they spend at their properties.
Free Travel Miles and Points Facebook Group
If you have questions on which credit card to apply for or tips on how to get started in this hobby, feel free to join our free Travel Miles and Points Facebook Group.
The Different Types of Points
There are three main types of points that you should know when it comes to using travel credit cards:
- Airline Miles: These are points earned through airline loyalty programs by flying with the same airline or its partners.
- Hotel Points: These are points earned through hotel loyalty programs by staying at a particular hotel chain or its partners.
- Credit Card Points: These are points earned by using credit cards – specifically travel rewards credit cards- for purchases that can be redeemed for travel expenses.
Each of these points has its own set of rules, redemption options, and value.
You can maximize your travel redemptions by understanding how these points work and maximizing their use.
In addition to these traditional types of points, there are other ways to earn and redeem miles and points, such as through dining programs, online shopping portals, or even transferring points between loyalty programs.
For example, you can earn American Airlines miles and elite status by consistently shopping at the American Airlines Advantage Shopping portal and dining at affiliated restaurants.
How to Start Using Credit Card Points for Travel
1. Sign Up for Travel Credit Cards
With these cards, you can earn generous welcome bonuses and rewards for purchases that you make with the card.
As long as you follow the terms and meet the minimum spending requirements of your new credit cards, you are guaranteed to earn a substantial amount of points.
Not all cards are created equal, so contact us if you need guidance on which credit cards to apply for.
2. Join Loyalty Programs
Joining loyalty programs can help you earn points and miles, which you can use for free flights, upgrades, and more.
These programs are usually free to join and can provide many benefits, including complimentary upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, and the ability to earn points for every dollar spent on flights and hotel stays.
It is an excellent way to maximize your travel rewards and enjoy more perks during your trips.
3. Start Earning Your Points
Once you have your credit cards and are part of different loyalty programs, it’s time to start earning points.
Use your credit cards for purchases in bonus categories strategically and take advantage of any special offers or promotions.
4. Follow Travel Blogs and Join Facebook Groups
There are websites and online resources you can follow that offer excellent tips and tricks, frequently updating you on the latest deals.
You can also join Facebook groups specializing in travel credit cards to get advice and updates from other experienced travelers.
Feel free to join our free Travel Miles and Points Facebook Group, where you can post questions about miles and points anytime.
5. Redeem your Miles and Points for Discounted or Free Travel
Once you have accumulated a good amount of miles and points, it’s time to use them!
You can redeem them for free flights and luxurious hotel stays or even transfer them to other loyalty programs for more options.
With these tips, anyone can begin their journey with travel credit card points.
Two Parts of This Hobby
Accumulation pertains to the methods involved in earning points.
Several accumulation strategies, such as earning miles through credit card welcome bonuses, are available.
It is imperative to possess a stellar financial profile so banks will most likely approve your credit card applications.
Like saving money, the “Accumulation” phase takes time, but if you are earnest, methodical, and unwavering about this step, expect to travel to your next dream destination in no time.
Aside from applying for credit cards that give out generous welcome bonuses, I also take advantage of the following accumulation methods:
- Category bonuses: some credit cards give extra points when purchasing at certain establishments such as gas stations, hotels, or office supply stores.
- Shopping: some travel credit cards offer extra points for shopping on their websites.
- Dining: certain credit cards award miles for signing up in their dining rewards program.
Pro-Tip: Typically, I apply for new credit cards when I anticipate a considerable spending opportunity in the pipeline, such as property taxes, annual insurance dues, home repairs, etc. I also have some extra cash saved, so I can pay for these credit card bills when they are due.
Redemption involves the process of converting the points you have accumulated into rewards.
There is almost always more than one way to redeem your points; therefore, it is crucial to be familiar with all possible redemption pathways before finalizing your selections.
The ideal points hobbyist constantly accumulates points while learning various redemption programs.
New opportunities for accumulation pop up almost daily, and airline programs frequently overhaul their redemption charts, so it is best to stay updated.
Feel free to join our free Travel Points and Miles Facebook Group, where we regularly discuss accumulation and redemption strategies.
In a nutshell, being skillful in accumulation and redemption is the secret formula to successfully using miles and points.
Pro Tip: Many points enthusiasts are fantastic with accumulation but struggle with redemptions. Do not give up – it’s undoubtedly a steep learning curve, but it gets better with practice. Before redeeming, do your due diligence by reviewing as many options as possible and selecting the superior (cheapest) alternative.
Travel Tips and Tricks
Now that you know what this hobby is all about, here are a few tips to help you become a successful frugal tourist using miles and points:
Start with a Goal in Mind:
Before diving into the world of credit card points, it’s essential to understand your travel goals clearly.
This will help you choose the right loyalty programs and credit cards to maximize your points-earning potential.
Research and Plan:
Research and plan your travel goals before applying for any credit cards or signing up for loyalty programs.
This will help you choose the best credit cards and programs that align with your specific needs.
You can contact us by filling out this credit card consultation form.
Alternatively, you can join our free Travel Miles and Points Facebook Group, where you can ask and post questions anytime.
Keep track of your points, credit card sign-up dates, minimum spending requirements, and any other important information to maximize your rewards and avoid missing out on bonuses.
I use a spreadsheet to keep track of my credit cards and points, but many apps can help you stay organized.
Be Flexible With Your Travel Dates and Destinations:
To make the most of your points, be open to traveling during off-peak times or to less popular destinations.
This will give you more options for redeeming your points for flights and hotels.
If your home airport does not yield good deals, consider positioning to another airport where a great deal can be found.
I tend to follow the deal more than the destination, so whenever I find a reasonable offer, I book it! I have 24 hours to cancel anyway.
Refer Family and Friends:
Some banks, like Chase and American Express, offer a fantastic referral program that allows cardholders to earn bonus points by recommending their products to others.
Pool Miles with Friends and Family:
Consider pooling miles and points with family members or friends to accelerate your points-earning potential and save on redemptions.
Some loyalty programs, such as Hilton Honors, allow you to pool your miles with friends and family, making reaching a specific redemption goal easier.
This way, you can combine your rewards to book more unforgettable trips or upgrades that would have been impossible to afford individually.
This can be especially helpful for more extensive trips or more expensive redemptions.
Being Financially Responsible
Applying for multiple travel credit cards can be tempting, but it risks negatively impacting your finances.
You need a sound financial strategy to avoid overspending on unnecessary expenses.
Ensure you make payments on time, pay your credit card balances in full, and stay informed about APR, annual fees, and other charges that may come with your chosen card.
Be Strategic With Your Spending:
Being strategic with your purchases is essential to meeting the minimum spending requirements to earn credit card welcome offers.
Consider using your new credit card for everyday expenses such as groceries or gas in order to reach the required spending limit.
Maximize Everyday Spending and Category Bonuses:
Take advantage of special offers and bonus categories to earn more points.
For example, if your credit card offers a bonus for spending on groceries and restaurants, remember to use it for those purchases.
We use Cardpointers to let us know which credit card to use based on current bonus categories.
Pay Off Your Credit Card Balance in Full:
Remember, this hobby only works if you can pay off your credit card balances in full each month.
So, staying disciplined and responsible is crucial.
The interest and fees will outweigh any benefits you may earn through points and miles.
While using credit card points can be a great way to save money on travel, it’s crucial not to overspend or go into debt to earn points and bonuses.
Always stick to your budget and only apply for credit cards you can comfortably manage and pay off in full each month.
Remember, responsible credit card use is key.
Maximizing Your Miles and Points
Now that you have an overview of how this hobby can benefit you, it’s time to start your journey into the world of miles and points.
Knowing how to maximize their value is essential once you have accumulated enough miles and points.
One way is by redeeming them for business or first-class flights instead of economy class.
This can give you a more luxurious and comfortable travel experience without spending a fortune.
With credit card points, anyone can travel luxuriously on a budget!
Another tip is to use your miles and points for peak-season travel or high-demand destinations.
These flights and hotels tend to be more expensive, so using your miles and points can save you a significant amount of money.
This hobby is ever-evolving, so join online communities and read travel blogs to stay up-to-date with the latest tips and tricks.
Traveling using credit card points is about traveling frugally and enjoying unique experiences.
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or just looking to save money on your next trip, using travel credit cards and loyalty programs can help you reach your goals without breaking the bank.
Start doing your research, staying organized, being strategic with your spending, and taking advantage of deals and bonuses – and you’ll be on your way to traveling for less.
Join our free Travel Miles and Points Facebook Group to learn more and connect with other points enthusiasts.
And remember, always stay responsible and disciplined with your credit card use.
EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE – Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. The content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.