Earn Miles and Points Every Day
Earning miles and points sounds great, but how do you make it a part of your busy life? That’s the question I faced a few years ago. I got started in the miles and points world when I was in college, but got very serious about it several years later once I had a family. I needed to keep my young daughter connected to her out-of-state family, and miles and points were a great way to make that possible without breaking the bank.
However, it should come as no surprise that having a young family means that “free time” is just about nonexistent. So, the big question for me was how to earn enough miles and points in a way that wouldn’t require any additional time commitment. Here are some ways I’ve found to make earning miles and points a relatively seamless part of my everyday life.
Get a Good Rewards-Earning Credit Card
If you have a good rewards earning credit card (or 2 or 3), then even if you do nothing else but put your purchases on that card, you are earning valuable points and miles toward your next trip. One small caution, though: This method is only worthwhile if you are paying off your balance each month and not paying interest for the sake of earning points.
Bonus Categories on Rewards-Earning Cards
Points add up much faster when you’re taking advantage of available bonus categories for purchases that you were going to make anyway. For example, if you have a card such as the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card, which awards bonus points on groceries (3X in the case of this card), then be sure to put groceries on the card. Alternatively, my Chase Sapphire Preferred card awards 2X points on travel and dining purchases, so I try to use it for those types of purchases. The New Chase Ink Bold Business card is another great example of how quickly points can add up. This card awards 5X points in many categories including cell phone bills, cable and internet. These bills total several hundred dollars monthly at my house, so I will literally earn tens of thousands of points this year just by having these bills auto-pay on the card.
Register Cards with Dining Rewards
This program is linked with various hotels and airlines such as United, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards, Hilton, American Airlines and more. Once your credit cards are registered with the program of your choice, all you have to do is pay with that card at a participating restaurant. I now earn 5 United miles per dollar when dining out at eligible restaurants. Assuming I am paying with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card that awards 2 points per dollar on dining, I am now earning a combined total of 7X miles and points on some of my dining purchases -- and none of this requires coupons, membership cards, submitting receipts or any other extra work.
Use Online Shopping Portals
Many credit card programs, hotels and airlines have their own online “shopping malls” or portals. If you click through to a retailer like Gap or The Home Depot via an online shopping mall, then you will earn some additional points per dollar for your purchase. My current favorite online shopping mall is the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. While many retailers in this “mall” pay out in the 3- to 4-points-per-dollar range, some popular retailers have been as high as 10X to 20X in the past via some limited-time specials. In fact, Best Buy was 10X as part of a Black Friday deal in 2011. That allowed my parents to buy a $1,200 TV they’d been wanting (on discount) -- resulting in 12,000 very valuable Ultimate Reward points in the process. Not bad! Needless to say, I was quite proud of them.1.
Pay Attention to Bonuses and Promotions
Sure, you could spend your day in forums such as MilePoint, FlyerTalk and FatWallet. But if you don’t have a lot of extra time, then I’d recommend you start by following a few blogs that cover some of the top deals of the day or week from airlines, hotels and rewards credit card issuers. I personally read The Points Guy, Million Mile Secrets, Frugal Travel Guy and the many blogs on BoardingArea (my own site, Mommy Points, is within the BoardingArea network). Finding a few blogs that highlight current miles and points deals will save you tons of time over finding the deals yourself, and will help you earn tens of thousands of extra points per year in the process.
There you have it, 5 simple steps that make earning miles and points almost second nature. Being strategic about the daily purchases you already make can spell all the difference between wishing you could afford to go on vacation and ensuring you’ve earned enough miles and points to do just that!