Credit Card Points and Miles Strategy


In a world where everyone is comparing themselves to each other because of social media and other things, one of my favorite sayings is, “You Do You”.  This is also true in the points and miles game. You do you! Please don’t compare yourself to others. There are countless strategies for earning points and miles, all of which have merit. What credit card points and miles strategy sounds good to you?


I Just Want One Free Trip

Many of you may just want to test the waters. Can you really earn points and miles for one trip? You don’t even know if you want to be all-in, you just want to see if it’s possible. In that case, just pick one card (the Chase Sapphire Preferred is our favorite right now). Get that one card and put ALL your normal spending on it to meet the minimum spending requirements. Collect your bonus points or miles and start planning that one trip.

If you want to pay for your flight AND hotel stay, you may need to get another credit card or have a spouse/partner apply for one. It is totally doable and not too-good-to-be-true!


You may just want one beach trip a year!

I Want to Take One Trip a Year With Credit Card Points/Miles

Maybe your goal is to take a trip a year. In that case, your strategy is going to be to open about three cards every year. In the meantime, you will need to decide what to do with the cards you got last year. “Should I cancel a card?” is a question we often get. We don’t cancel a lot of our cards but we do downgrade them to no annual fee cards quite often.

When you are trying to decide what new cards to get each year, you want to consider those with limited-time high bonus offers. You don’t want to sign up for a Delta card when the bonus is 35,000 miles and then it goes up to 60,000-70,000 miles a month later. We try and keep you updated with the high bonus offers.

Many people are concerned about annual fees and get caught up with that. It can actually impede their progress. While there are some cards with annual fees that are waived the first year, many are not. However, it is always worth paying an annual fee the year you get that bonus. Often, annual fees are worth paying in the long run for the benefits the card gives you. You have to decide what works for you.

Just know that if you want to take one trip a year, your credit card points and miles strategy will be applying for 2-4 cards a year. A lot depends on if you are going with a spouse or a friend who is paying their way.


Kauai Grand Hyatt in background

If you want to go on a tropical vacation every year, as Alex and Mitch do, this can be your strategy!


I Want to Save On Travel, But I Don’t Want to Pay An Annual Fee—EVER

Believe it or not, that can be a credit card points and miles strategy. You can find some cards that don’t have annual fees (or ones that are waived the first year). It is actually quite surprising how many cards there are (as in, I was shocked!)

Here are some credit cards that don’t ever have an annual fee, or have an annual fee that’s waived the first year:


I Want To Build Up a Stockpile of Points/Miles for Emergencies

Have you ever needed to fly somewhere at a moment’s notice and had to pay a lot of money? Or maybe you just needed to get away and get some R&R—that’s an emergency in my book, too!

In that case, your credit card points and miles strategy will be to build up a stockpile of points. Maybe you build up that stockpile before using any points or miles for a trip. You are a saver, and you want to be prepared. In that case, plan on applying for that first card and when you are close to receiving your bonus, plan on your next card application. If you have a spouse or partner, have them apply for a card. Don’t forget about referral bonuses!

With this strategy, I would get about four+ credit cards a year. Nothing like the peace of mind that comes with the ability to travel when you need to (like when I went to London to help out my daughter when a grandchild was sick). That would have been a very expensive last-minute trip, and I would have had to think twice about going.


I Don’t Want Miles Because I Have a Fear of Flying

First of all, you aren’t alone. Many of my friends and many other people (even celebrities) never fly. But you can drive to destinations, and in that case, it would be amazing to stay in hotels for free. This credit card points and miles strategy will be all about the hotels or the transferrable points credit cards. You may never have to pay for a hotel again!


Luxury Hotel Room

Your strategy for free travel might be luxury hotel rooms!


I’m Type A. Give Me All the Points/Miles I Can Get

Hey! You are my type of person! That is why I have earned millions of points and traveled all over the world! If that is you, you aren’t so concerned with annual fees. You know their benefits outweigh the fee, and you are constantly looking for that next credit card. Your spouse applies as often as you (with your guidance), and you earn 500,000+ points a year.

My strategy has always been to constantly be working on a minimum spend on a card. I want ALL those bonus points! I seldom take a break. Either my husband or I am meeting the minimum spend on a card, and when I am close to meeting it, I apply for our next card and we do it all over again!

Do you need to be like me? Absolutely not! You do you. Make this fabulous hobby work for you—get what you want out of it!


A trip to Greece could be your strategy!


Bottom Line

Please don’t compare your credit card points and miles strategy to ours. You decide how far you want to take this hobby. Just a little warning, though—once you’ve traveled for free or nearly free, your strategy may change!





Pelican sitting on ledge near water

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