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Step 1: Get an Account with AwardWallet (FREE)
If you're looking to keep track of your points, miles, and other loyalty currency, create an AwardWallet account. We track over 650 different programs!
Step 2: Check Your Credit Scores (FREE)
We like Credit Karma and Credit Scorecard from Discover, but there are additional ways to check your credit score for free. You want your credit scores over 700 at all times. Need help? Check out our tips for managing your credit score
Step 3: Sign Up for Loyalty Programs (FREE)
It's free to sign up for airline or hotel loyalty programs. If you plan on accruing miles or points in any program, you will need to be a member. Sign up and then add the programs to your AwardWallet account for easy tracking. Here are the most popular ones we see in AwardWallet.
- Alaska Airlines (Mileage Plus)
- American Airlines (AAdvantage)
- British Airways (Executive Club)
- Delta Airlines SkyMiles
- JetBlue Airways (TrueBlue)
- United Airlines MileagePlus
Step 4: Apply for Rewarding Credit Cards
Once you know that your credit score is good to excellent, you can apply for travel credit cards that meet your travel needs.
Earning points that transfer to different travel programs is an excellent way to start. You can receive transferable points with the following rewards programs: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Rewards. Below are credit cards that receive points in each program.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points
- Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Earn 60,000 bonus points
- Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points
- American Express® Gold Card – Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points
- American Express® Business Gold Card – Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points
- The Platinum Card® from American Express – Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points
- The Business Platinum Card® from American Express – Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points
- Citi Premier® Card – Earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® Points
- Citi Rewards+® Card – Earn 20,000 bonus points
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card – Earn 75,000 bonus miles
- Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card – Earn 20,000 bonus miles
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card – Earn 75,000 bonus miles
If you're loyal to a particular airline or hotel chain, then you will most likely want their co-branded rewards credit card. Here's our full list of travel credit cards: Airlines | Hotels | Small Business
Step 5: Receive Miles & Points on Every Purchase
Use your rewards credit card responsibly to receive miles and points on every purchase you make. Many rewards cards will give you multiple points per $1 spent on certain categories. For example, the Sapphire Preferred earns 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards (2X on other travel); 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3X points on streaming services; 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs); and 1X on all other purchases.
If you're shopping online, you can receive multiple points per $1 by going through online shopping portals.
Also, don't forget to sign up for dining programs, so you can double your earning for dining out. There's also usually a signup bonus for just joining and dining your first time at an in-network restaurant. You can sign up for the major dining programs below:
Step 6: Have a Plan & Know How to Redeem Your Miles
Follow the AwardWallet blog for the best tips and techniques on how to use your miles and points. We recommend several articles for learning more:
- How Does a Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus Work?
- A Beginner's Guide to Building Healthy Credit
- A Beginner's Guide to Building a Credit Card Application Strategy
- Understanding Rewards Credit Card Application Rules and Restrictions
- 21 Credit Card Benefits Every Traveler Should Know About
- How to Plan a Long-Term Credit Card Strategy
- Best Rewards Credit Card Offers This Month
- Am I Eligible for a Small Business Card?
- Back to Basics: An Introduction to the Types of Reward Points
- Beginners Guide to Award Travel Planning – Award Flights