The other day I was talking to one of our friends who happens to have a full-time job, a family and several weighty responsibilities in connection with our religion. He said he would like to dabble more in miles and points world, but it requires mental energy that he simply doesn’t possess at the moment.
He does sign up for new bonuses here and there but beyond that, he just doesn’t want to deal with the overload of information. He asked me to outline a few simple things someone like him can do right now in order to get the best return on his time.
So that’s how the idea for this post was born. I’m going to stick to KISS principle, as in “keep it simple, stupid.” Don’t worry, I’m the stupid one, not you. I’m going to try using less words and instead briefly highlight actionable strategies for busy families.
I’m assuming that you have a good credit score and are able to pay off your bills in-full each month. This isn’t rocket science. Everything that gets charged to the card by YOU will need to be repaid. If you don’t pay it off at the end of the month, you will be charged high interest rate.
Unless one grasps this basic concept, they have no business participating in this hobby. It also goes without saying that you should never do something you are not comfortable with for the sake of miles, points and any freebies, really. Your ethical “line in the sand” may be different from mine, and that’s OK.
Without further ado:
Advice for newbies and those who are not restricted by 5/24 rule
1) Consider signing up for Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Freedom.
You don’t have to necessarily get both at the same time, but I think it’s a good idea to start with those two products. You can see my post for in-depth reasons why, but here is a short version. Getting approved for Chase Sapphire Preferred will give you access to almost 60k transferrable Ultimate Rewards points. You can use them towards $900 in Southwest airfare, 4 nights at a very nice Hyatt resort or $750 in value towards car rentals, cruises, tours or airfare on most airlines.
Paying 15,000 points for room at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa is a pretty good deal
Chase Freedom earns 5 points per dollar on rotating categories, and you can combine the points with those you earn from Chase Sapphire Preferred, allowing you to supercharge your UR potential. Most people will have no trouble taking advantage of categories like groceries, gas or Amazon shopping.
The bonus on Chase Freedom is a bit low (17.5k points at the time of writing), but it’s a good card to hang on to because it has no annual fee. You don’t have to renew Chase Sapphire Preferred at the end of the year ($95). In fact, I didn’t. But receiving that juicy bonus will allow you to get a “taste” of what’s possible via miles and points.
2) If you have a family, a side business and frequently fly Southwest, consider going after Companion Pass.
This is an excellent time to consider this strategy because you will have 1.5 years to take advantage of it. It’s hard to say whether Companion Pass will be as easy to obtain in the future so personally, I would try to get it now, but only if you fall in the above category. See my post for full details.
3) If you have a business and are not interested in Companion Pass, consider applying for Chase Ink Business Preferred.
When given a choice, I would get Ink first, instead of Chase Sapphire Preferred. The bonus is higher (80k points) and you earn highly-valuable Ultimate Rewards currency. You can read more details on the card on this page.
4) If you have a lot of flights coming up in a near future, consider applying for Chase Sapphire Reserve.
This one is a tough sell. Last year, the bonus was 100k points (it’s 50k points now) and you could get $300 travel credit twice. It was a super easy card to recommend, though some still got worked up over bloggers (including myself) telling people to go for it. Say what? In what universe is getting a 100k UR points AND $150 profit not a spectacular deal? End rant.
Now that $450 fee is a huge elephant in the room. Even when you get a $300 travel rebate, you are in a $150 hole. Still, if you have a large family and can take advantage of airport lounge access multiple times, I can see where it could make sense to get the card. If you plan to redeem points towards revenue travel, you will get 1.5 cents per point, therefore receiving $750 value. Once you deduct $150, you are still $600 ahead, not counting all the food from the airport lounges.
To be clear, this is the only scenario where I would recommend you even consider it. Chase may increase the bonus, though so far, they are not budging.
5) Go to physical Chase branch and see if you are targeted for an offer that is higher than the public one.
This happens on occasion, so I do recommend you check.
For old timers and those restricted by 5/24 rule
1) Consider applying for Wells Fargo Propel World card, while you still can.
According to this post on DoC, this card will be discontinued on March 31st. This is a “use it or lose it” type deal, so don’t put it off till the last minute. Details on the offer:
- Earn 40,000 bonus points with $3,000 in net purchases in the first 3 months.
- Earn 3X points on Airlines, 2X on Hotels, and 1X on other net purchases.
- Get up to $100 in reimbursements each year for qualifying incidental airline charges like airline lounges, baggage fees, and more.
- Get complimentary room upgrades and more through the Luxury Hotel Program.
- First annual fee is waived, after that it’s $175
Reportedly, buying airline gift cards counts towards $100 incidentals credit. I charged taxes on award tickets, and they were reimbursed. So, following that logic, the bonus is really worth $500. If you currently have a WF account, you can call 1-800-932-6736 and apply over the phone. Otherwise, you’ll have to go to local branch.
2) Check CardMatch tool for targeted Amex offers.
You can see my post for more details. My favorite offers are 100k points bonus on Platinum and 50k bonus on Amex Premier Rewards Gold (personal versions). While for most families Membership Rewards points aren’t quite as valuable as UR currency, the program does have its strengths.
3) Check Amex links in incognito mode if you are not seeing anything decent on CardMatch.
I did this recently and was able to pull up 50k offer on Amex Premier Rewards Gold. But this goes for any Amex cards, really. Always check links in incognito mode because these guys like to play games with customers.
4) Consider applying for one of Chase cards not currently subject to 5/24 restriction.
You never know if this rule may kick in for the rest of Chase line-up, so I recommend you grab something while you still can. Chase cards (the lucrative kind) that are currently not subject to 5/24 rule: Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, the Hyatt Credit card, and Marriott Rewards Premier (business version).
Which one you end up selecting will depend on your goals. IHG card is my favorite due to renewal perks it provides. Make sure to do a dummy booking on IHG.com and see if you are targeted for 80k points offer.
5) Consider applying for 60k miles offer on Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard
Huh? Aren’t AAdvantage miles worthless? No way! See my post for more on this subject. According to Doctorofcredit blog, you may be able to match it to 75,000 miles offer after sending a secure message in your profile. That’s the real reason I’m recommending you get this card NOW.
Picking up 75k miles and paying no annual fee? That’s pretty darn good. And no, the personal link for this card doesn’t currently pay us commission. We do make commission on business version, though, and reportedly, folks have been able to get 75k match on it as well.
See my Hot Deals page for more information on these cards.
So, those are (in my opinion) the most lucrative current strategies for folks who like to keep it simple and get the best return on their time/energy. As always, everyone is different and perhaps none of those suggestions will work for you personally. That’s OK, because there is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to miles and points hobby.
P.S. I do provide free, no-obligation credit card consulting service, so don’t hesitate to reach out by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.