Beginner’s Guide: Earning Miles

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Beginers Guide Earning Points and MilesIn this post I will talk about all the ways you can earn points, miles, and cash back for your dream vacation. If you are a complete beginner and/or new to my blog, I suggest checking out my previous post, Beginner’s Guide: Intro to Manufactured Spending. That post is the precursor to this one, as it talks about what manufactured spending is and why it’s worth doing.

Hit the break to learn more…

Cash Back, Points, or Miles?

This is a very important question when it comes to credit cards and it entirely depends on you. What is your end game? Do you want to travel to Europe, stay in a suite on your next trip to Vegas, or do you simply want to buy a new iPad at a fraction of the price? Once you have a goal in mind, it’s easy to determine what type of currency you want to earn from this game. I, personally, like to earn all three currencies, as long as it’s worth my while (e.g. high reward categories).

You can read my more in-depth post about choosing between points, miles, and cash here.

What Credit Card Should I Use?

Again, this completely depends on you. You need to make goals before deciding what currency you want to earn and what credit card you want use. I like to use whatever card earns me the most rewards and fits into my latest goal. For example, I am planning a trip to Las Vegas for CES next year and I plan on staying at a M Life property (which is a partner of Hyatt). Because of that, I am focusing on Ultimate Rewards, since they transfer 1:1 to Gold Points. To maximize my earning of UR points, I have been shopping with my Ink Bold at Staples, because I earn 5X points there and 1% cash back with Visa Savings Edge.

If you are new to the world of points and miles and are looking for a credit card to get, check out this post. If you have a destination in mind, but you don’t know which cards or points can get you there, contact me or leave a message in the comments. I’d be happy to help you out!

Ways to Earn

For most people, normal spending is the only way they know how to earn credit card rewards (those people should really read this blog). However, there are much easier, faster, and more profitable ways to earn points, miles, and cash back.

Sign-Up Bonuses
Signing-up for a new credit card is by far the easiest way to earn a large sum of points, miles, or cash back, quickly. Some cards make the bonus extremely easy, by only requiring that you make a single purchase. However, those bonuses are usually much lower than the cards that require a certain spending amount to be hit. For example, you could earn 10,000 Membership Reward Points with an Amex Blue for Business after your first purchase or you could earn 40,000 (This offer gets as high as 150,000, when targeted) Membership Reward Points with an Amex Platinum after spending $3,000 in 3 months.

Regardless, earning 10,000 MR points after a single purchase or 40,000 after $3,000 in purchases, it’s still much quicker than spending thousands on product to earn that many points. You would need to spend $2,000 in a 5X category, $5,000 in a 2X category, or $10,000 in a 1X category to earn 10,000 points. That isn’t a lot of spending when you use manufactured spending techniques, but it’s still more work than completing a single purchase.

If you are planning on signing up for a new credit card, think twice before doing so.

Manufactured Spending
Manufactured spending is the ultimate way to complete minimum spending requirements and increase your stash of points. The trick to MS is to maximize credit card reward categories. Earning 1X points on $10,000 in purchases is not near as profitable (or fun) as earning 5X. Not to mention 50,000 points will earn you a lot more travel than 10,000 points.

If you are new to manufactured spending, start here. If you are want to find new methods of manufactured spending or increase your knowledge of known methods, check out this post and a forum (or two).

Portals should be used for all your online shopping. They earn you points, miles, or cash back for every purchase and they don’t cost you anything to use, so there’s no reason not too. Depending on the portal, they can even be more profitable than a sign-up bonus (that is a subscriber only post, but you can subscribe here).

If you are interested in learning more about portals, check out the Portal section of this post.

Miscellaneous Methods
The above methods of earning points are usually the most popular, however, there are many other ways to earn like giveaways, reward program sign-up bonuses, and contests. The best way to keep track of these point earning opportunities, is to follow multiple travel blogs, reward programs, and banks on Twitter/Facebook.

Do you have any methods to earn points and miles that I missed? If so, leave them in the comments.

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