When I first started this hobby, I was earning miles and points at a furious rate. I’d apply for a card, spend money to earn the sign-up bonus, and then move onto the next card. Sure, I had a couple of keeper cards, but for the most part I was earning miles and points continuously from new cards.
A lot has changed in the past few years. Chase now has 5/24 restrictions, Amex has a pop-up warning box and many banks are more strict about new credit card approvals.
At the moment, I cannot apply for any Chase cards. I got the pop-up for for Amex, and I was recently denied a new card by Bank of America. I probably won’t apply for a new card for the next few months.
Yet, I am still earning enough miles and points to take some small trips, like one I just booked for the USA Gymnastics Olympic Team Trials. To keep earning miles and points during my credit card application dry spell, I have to work harder and pay attention to details.
If you’re in a similar position and you have to wait awhile before getting a new credit card, here are ways you can earn miles and points in the interim.
Maximize Reward Rates on Regular Spend
This seems like a no-brainer, but some of us hobby old-timers are not used to paying attention to reward rate earnings by categories on our credit cards. Look at the cards you’re using to see which categories earn 2X, 3X or 5X points. Rearrange your recurring monthly bills to maximize your reward rates by category.
Last week, my husband was using his CSR for an online purchase and left it by the computer. As we headed out to a restaurant, I asked him if he had the card (which earns 3X on dining). He ran back in to get it, because we need all the 3X points we can get!
If you own the Capital One Venture Rewards card and you’re booking a hotel room on cash, take advantage of the 10X earning at hotels.com. If you own a Chase Ink Business card, check out this post by Miles to Memories for what still earns 5X points.
Refer Friends and Family
Some credit cards offer you extra miles and points for getting a friend or family member to sign up through your referral link. Most Amex cards show this feature when you sign-in:
If you have Chase cards, you can check for referral bonuses on this site. Email links to your friends, or share them on social media.
Low-hanging MS Fruit
I’m not a fan of Manufactured Spending. If you’re not familiar with what that is, see this guide by Frequent Miler.
However, I’m not opposed to grabbing low-hanging MS fruit. A prime example of that is when Staples offers Visa or MC giftcards with the purchase fee waived. Since I have a Chase Ink card that earns 5X at office supply stores, this is an easy way to earn extra points. I simply use the Visa/MC giftcard to pay for another purchase.
Staples usually limits these gift cards to one per customer. I know some folks buy one each day during the promotion week and visit multiple stores to buy more. I haven’t gone that far, but on the last two promotions my husband and I have each purchased a $200 gift card. We earned 4,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards without doing much work.
Online Shopping Portals
Another way to earn extra miles and points on your existing credit cards is to use online shopping portals. See this guide from The Points Guy.
I admit, I’m not a huge user of online shopping portals except when Southwest offers bonus points for flowers on Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. But, if I did more online shopping, these points could add up.
If you stay at hotels for business or pleasure and pay with cash, many times you can get bonus points through special hotel promotions. For example, currently Hyatt has a promotion that offers 500 bonus points if you book through the app. It also has a promotion where you can earn Mlife rewards and Hyatt points through October 10, 2019.
Many times, you have to sign up for these promotions in order to get the bonus points. Loyalty Lobby is a great resource to see all the current hotel promotions. Just choose the hotel brand from the drop-down menu.
Seasonal Spending Promotions
Check your email and snail mail for seasonal spending promotions on credit cards you currently own. These typically offer bonus points if you spend $X within the next three months. I see these offers around Christmas and around my card anniversary.
A few years ago, I moved some holiday spending to my Discover card to earn an extra $150 cashback bonus. I had to spend $1000 a month on the card for three consecutive months. Easy peasy.
If your card is coming up on its anniversary, call and see if there are any retention offers available to you. In the past, I’ve been offered annual fee waivers and bonus points for meeting a spending goal.
Card Upgrade Offers
Sometimes, banks will offer to upgrade your current card for extra points. Leana recently did this on two cards and didn’t incur an additional credit inquiry or new card on her credit report. See her recent post: Upgrade Offers: the New “Holy Grail” of Travel Hacking?
If you’re in the same position as me where the new credit cards with high sign-up bonuses aren’t happening as often, it’s time to refine our strategy. Are you using any or all of these tools to earn more miles and points during your application dry spell?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.