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This post is for miles and points newbies and people who are curious about travel hacking through new credit card offers. If you are an experienced miles and points hobbyist, please pass this info along to your friends and family who are curious about how you travel for “free” using miles and points.
Ok, folks. Let’s get real. It’s November 1, and most people are about to spend a lot of money over the next two months.
Where’s all this money going? People are spending on holiday meals and parties, seasonal clothing, family travel, gifts and decorations.
In addition, most homeowners have a big tax bill due by the end of the year. Many people also squeeze in some charitable giving before the year ends.
Hopefully, you’ve budgeted for these end-of-year expenses in advance. I don’t advocate going into debt for this type of spending.
However, if you’re not putting this spending on a new credit card that will give back to you in the form of travel rewards or cash back, you are missing out!
The Math of a New Credit Card
Let’s say you put all this year-end spending on your existing credit card, for example a card that earns Southwest Rapid Reward points. You’ve had the card for years, and you periodically use your points for vacation flights. Most purchases earn 1X points.
Assuming you spend $3000 each month for a total of $6000 in November and December, you’ll earn 6000 points. That might get you one one-way ticket on Southwest for all of your holiday spending.
But you can do better. Much better.
The real rewards come from the intro bonus from opening a new credit card and using the power of two to accumulate more miles and points.
For example, say you apply for a new credit card with a 50,000-point intro bonus after spending $3000 in the first three months. Both you and your spouse apply for the card separately, and you spend the same $6000 total in November and December.
At the end of the year, you now have 50k X2 or 100,000 points to spend! You didn’t have to spend any more money than the previous scenario, but you have earned a lot more points for travel.
Periodically applying for a new credit card to get those high intro bonuses is the quickest way to accumulate miles and points for free travel.
Hot Credit Card Offers
So what are the best credit card offers right now? We always highlight hot offers on this blog here, even if the offer doesn’t pay us commission.
Whether the offer is hot or not depends on your goals. Do you want to accumulate cash back to spend on anything, or would you rather earn miles and points for a free vacation? Do you like to road trip and therefore hotel offers are more appealing? Or would you rather earn miles for free air travel? Here are a few credit cards to consider:
Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card—the intro bonus is $500 after spending $3000 within the first three months. The annual fee is waived the first year. This card earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. If both you and your spouse apply separately, you can earn over $1000 in cash back for your normal holiday spending. See this post for more details.
Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard—the intro bonus is
60,000 now 70,000! points after spending $5000 in the first three months. You can redeem those points for $600 $700 worth of travel! The card earns 2X points on all purchases, and the annual fee is waived the first year. See this post for more details.
My husband and I have each had this card before, and we used our points to pay for a trip to Puerto Vallarta.
Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card—the intro bonus from referrals is currently 150,000 Hilton Honors points after spending $3000 in the first three months. The annual fee is $95. If two people in your household applied, that’s over 300,000 Hilton Honors points! See my referral link here and Leana’s referral link here.
My family is using our Hilton Honors points from this card to stay at an Arizona resort over Spring Break.
Because so many people have increased expenses during the last two months of the year, now is the perfect time to accumulate large credit card rewards for that extra spending. Opening a new credit card with a high intro bonus is the best way to maximize those reward miles and points.
Remember to pay off your credit card balances each month. The benefit of earning travel rewards is not worth accumulating credit card debt.
Leana and I do earn commission from many credit cards if you apply through our affiliate links. That’s how we keep this blog running and how we are able to keep posting about great deals and sharing our travel experiences. Thank you for your support!
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.