Getting Started with Points and Miles (Travel Tip Tuesday #48)

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In this quick guide to getting started with points and miles we highlight some very basic principles of using points and miles to travel more cheaply (or even free).

Each Tuesday we share a unique or interesting travel tidbit so be sure to read all of the preceding Travel Tip Tuesday’s here. In the month of December we are focusing on points & miles. Last week’s post highlighted how to use the United Dining Program to to score some extra United Miles

Getting Started with Points and Miles – Travel Tip Tuesday #48

Travel for free? Where do I sign up!

Savvy travelers have been earning points and miles to score free or cheap travel for many years. There’s no shortage of guides to getting started with points and miles (some of which we highlight below) but here’s a quick primer to get you moving as you head into 2020.

What are miles and points?

Miles and points, simply put, are things you earn from various travel or credit programs that you can exchange for services or goods. In the context of this article those services or goods refer to travel. Free airline tickets, partial payment of airline tickets, free hotel rooms, free car rentals, and the like.

How do I earn miles and points?

You can earn miles and points through a variety of ways. However, the most common ways including simply using a travel program. For example, fly United, earn miles. Stay at a Hilton property, earn points. Rent car from Hertz, earn points.

Other popular methods include sign up bonuses from credit cards which often offer large batches of points as a sign up bonus for getting the card along with a minimum spend in a certain time frame. For example, if you sign up for a Chase United card you can earn 60,000 United Miles which could then be used towards free travel.

Savvier travelers often employ many other strategies to earn more points and miles including shopping programs via airlines (where you buy stuff you’d have normally bought from a retailer via the airline’s portal) or maybe rent a car via the airline and earn extra miles. There are countless schemes and approaches to earn more points and miles.

How do I start?

Getting started earning points and miles is pretty simple really. We’ve highlighted a few basic steps here:

  1. Sign up for the rewards program you have in mind (e.g. United Mileage Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards, Hilton Honors, etc)
  2. Find a credit card bonus offer for that program and sign up
  3. Hit the minimum spend within the allotted window on the credit card
  4. Use the travel platform by booking flights, hotels or rental cars to earn more points
  5. Find alternative methods (e.g. United’s Dining program) to earn more points

There’s actually quite a bit more to this if you really want to get after this whole points and miles thing, but at the very basic level it’s simple: use the platforms to earn points, find and use credit card offers to earn big bunches of points or miles.

More detailed guides on getting started with points and miles are found here:

Happy Holidays

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For readers interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might be like these great articles:

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Author Biography

We. Do. Business Travel. The CBoardingGroup.com is a leading business travel focused travel blog. The principal author has over 18 years of consistent & frequent business travel. Over the years, he has developed various travel habits, travel tips, advice and more that he shares with fellow travelers of all skill levels. From hotel life, to airplane tips, to the weekly grind of frequent travel, plus a little travel humor, this blog is a haven for business travelers. Read his full bio here.

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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