Have Rewards, Will Travel: Making the Most of Your Credit Card Miles

Travel miles are a popular way to promote credit cards. They represent a painless way to get money off your next trip or to pay for a city break. It is easy to accumulate points, and it pays to be a bit savvy about how you collect them…and how you spend them.

Get On the Program

There are plenty of different reward schemes out there. Many airlines are members of shared schemes so that points accumulated on one can be used on another. Obviously, it makes sense to join the scheme supported by the airline you are most likely to use, but it does no harm to sign up for others as well. You can even use an online account manager to handle multiple accounts.

Get the Right Credit Card 

There is a huge range of credit cards offering reward miles. You will probably want to look for one that has a big introductory bonus, but be sure that you can manage the level of spending that is required—for instance, $3,000 over the first three months.

After finding the right bonus, make sure you get a good rate of rewards on all your spending. Some cards offer different rates for different categories of spending, so choose one that supports your own profile. Also, make sure that the card will put miles into your preferred schemes.

In the chase for higher rewards, don’t lose sight of the general conditions of using a credit card. If you are relatively new to the market, check out the best advice when applying for a credit card.

Beef Up Your Points

Once you have chosen your card, pile on the spending by putting everything you can onto the card—but stick within your budget. There is no point in spending money you can’t afford in order to get rewards, and if you can’t pay in full each month you will lose in interest payments what you gained in rewards.

Find the retailers (online and in the high street) who support the same rewards schemes. Very often you can double up on your rewards for a purchase by buying with the right credit card in the right store. If you eat out regularly, you might find a dining program that you could sign up to which will give you additional rewards.

Spend Wisely

When it comes to spending your points, weigh up carefully what is on offer. Watch out for airline promotions that double the value of your miles. You can sometimes get better value by taking hotel accommodation instead of air miles, or by using your miles to upgrade to a better seat on the flight.

Make It Fun

Saving travel miles can be absorbing, and it can be easy to put off using your miles because you are so intent on collecting more. Remember that the points are there to be used, and the people who don’t get around to using them are subsidizing those who do. Enjoy the collecting, but enjoy the spending too.


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