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Travel for Less

The Basic Roadmap

Part 3

So, you’ve chosen the path of discovering new ways of using your rewards cards to travel for less! I can sense the excitement, the eagerness for grabbing all those points! Hold onto your horses, for there is plenty of info that you need to process first. Let me initiate you into the journey and provide you with a basic idea of how to get started.

 

Know your credit score and monitor it regularly

 

A free-of-cost Experian credit report is waiting for you at Credit Sesame. You don’t need to pay a dime for it! No catch!

 

It’s important to protect your credit score in order to be able to use it effectively for free rewards travel. In addition, a healthy credit score can ensure that you get the best interest rates on any auto or home loans. The good news is that you can make full use of the great offers we’re going to tell you about, travel the world for almost zilch and still maintain a healthy credit score! Many have been doing it and there’s no reason why you can’t.

 

Sign up for different rewards programs

 

They come for free and you don’t need to pay anything for thee sign ups. You’ll be sent special deals via emails on a regular basis after you become a member. It’s better to sign up for these rewards programs prior to applying for their corresponding credit cards, else, they’ll initiate the account creation process on your behalf, making it a more complicated affair.

 

Keep things simple in the beginning and stay focused on only the major players:

 

Start with the airlines – British Airways, United, Delta, US Airways and American Airlines

 

And then the Hotels – Marriot, Starwood Hotels, Priority Club, Hilton Honors and Hyatt

 

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Know your rewards cards and pick the right ones

 

Before you go ahead and apply for any rewards cards, make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Know their sign up bonuses, category perks, minimum spend requirements and whether you’ll be asked to cough-up any annual fee or not. It’s important to pick rewards cards that fall in line with your future travel plans and needs. Furthermore, it may make more sense to opt for cards that complement each other.

 

For instance, you can transfer the points earned on your AMEX membership rewards card to British Airways and/or Delta travel programs (and many others). This way you can multiply your earnings by owning a card that earns you membership rewards points, and another one, a transfer travel partner card like the British Airways Visa or Delta Gold. They both complement each other and enable you to maximize your miles.

 

In the same way, if you’ve got the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, you can transfer its rewards points to Priority Club, Hyatt, Southwest, United, British Airways, Marriott and Continental, all of whom have their own respective rewards programs/cards, and make the most of their benefits. That’s flexibility for you!

 

It’s also important to diversify your points/miles. Frequent flyer miles spread over different rewards programs will help you at the time of booking your award flight. Hence, it’s all about the choices you make!

 

As you weigh the options in front of you, why not go through our detailed blog post in this regard. It can help you immensely in picking the right rewards card for your needs.

 

Always remember, there’s no dearth of rewards cards in the marketplace. Each has its own pros and cons. The onus of choosing the right card lies entirely on you. We figured that American Express’ Membership Rewards and the Chase’s Ultimate Rewards are by far the two most in-demand rewards programs today. Following are some cards you can consider for earning rewards points under these programs:

 

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
  • The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

 

Go ahead and apply for the cards!

 

Once you’re sure about the rewards card that you want to buy, go ahead and apply for it. However, please keep in mind that the bank behind that card will make an inquiry on your credit report. The reason for making such inquiry is to ascertain your credit worthiness. Such inquiries can bring a temporary fall of 2 to 5 points in your credit score. However, not to worry! Your credit score will bounce back from this small setback in quick time!

 

Know what the seasoned travelers know!

 

There are plenty of savvy miles freaks out there who know how to –  get the annual fees waived, get maximum in sign up bonuses, get card denials reconsidered, expedite card approvals and the right time to cancel a card. They’ve learnt and mastered these skills over the years. However, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel and can learn the same tricks TODAY! Yes, you read that right! You can learn them right this moment! Check the blog posts detailed below and you’ll soon be on your way to become a Miles Messiah!

 

Here’s our blog post on the steps you must take if your card application gets rejected.

Another post on how to never let your miles expire!

And another one on the possible effects of cancelling your rewards credit cards

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It’s important to pick rewards cards that fall in line with your future travel plans and needs.

Put your cards to use

 

That’s what you bought them for! There are several rewards cards that provide category bonuses apart from a handsome signup bonus. For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred gets your 2 points for every $1 spent on meals, Ink Bold earns you the same number of points for each $1 spent on gas. Many rewards programs have tie-ups with different dining programs and shopping portals too. Why not use your cards for the things that you were going to buy anyway?! A dollar spent that doesn’t make you any reward point or mile is actually a dollar wasted. You must alter your daily spending habits and run everything that you can through your credit card. Of course, make sure that you pay off your entire outstanding before the end of the billing cycle.

 

Learn from others

 

There are many free travel lovers out there who’d love to share their tricks with you. Go ahead and join online forums surrounding travel industry and learn from these free travelers. And don’t hesitate to share your own learnings with others.

 

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Want to read this later? Download this guide as a PDF or eBook.