This post is geared to newbies or people unfamiliar with the miles and points hobby. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.
There are only six weeks until the end of the year. Every New Year’s Day on social media I see friends and family say they want to travel more in the new year. In fact, not traveling enough is one of the biggest regrets old people have.
People say to me all the time, “I wish I could travel as much as your family.” I try to explain to them that can, if they start collecting miles and points from credit cards. That’s how my family has traveled to Hawaii (twice!), Australia/New Zealand and numerous other places. I don’t get free trips just because I’m a blogger. I apply for credit cards with large sign-up bonuses and earn miles just like everyone else in this miles and points hobby.
Why Now Is the Time to Get Started
Signing up for a new credit card with a big sign-up bonus is the best way to jumpstart your miles and points balance for free travel. However, to get the sign-up bonus, most credit cards require you to spend a few thousand dollars within the first 3-4 months of having the credit card.
Now just happens to be the time of year when people are spending more money than usual. With holiday travel, decorations, parties, family gifts, teacher gifts, property taxes…everything adds up. All of those increased expenses make it easier to reach the spending requirement for credit card big sign-up bonuses of miles and points.
Before opening a new credit card to earn miles and points, make sure you are being smart about it.
Think about your travel goals first. Do you want to fly within the U.S. or internationally? Do you plan to stay in hotels or vacation rentals? Knowing your travel goals helps you apply for the right credit cards.
Take it slow. Apply for one new card at a time.
Pay attention to details. Note the spending amount that triggers the bonus miles, and mark the date on your calendar by which you have to complete that spending.
Pay off your balance in full each month. Miles and points credit cards don’t have great interest rates. Pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges.
Don’t Do This
Don’t get in over your head. If you apply for several new cards at once, you may have trouble meeting the spending requirements to trigger the bonuses.
Don’t charge more than you can afford. If you can’t pay off your cards in full each month, don’t do this.
Don’t count on using the bonus miles for an immediate trip. Most sign-up bonuses post to your account 3-4 months after you open the card, depending on when you complete the required spending.
Best Credit Cards with Large Spending Bonuses
Credit card bonus offers are constantly changing. As of publication time, here are a few of the best offers.
Best Overall Card: The Chase Sapphire Preferred card (60,000 bonus points currently, worth $750) is a great card for new miles and points travelers. You can transfer the points to several travel partners (Southwest, United, Hyatt) or redeem them for travel through Chase’s travel portal.
Easiest Rewards Card: The Capital One Venture Rewards card (50,000 bonus points currently, worth $500) is the easiest travel rewards card to use. Why? Simply charge any travel expense and erase it off your statement with your points. With this card, you don’t have to worry about sticking to one airline or hotel, and you’re not subject to award availability. The card earns double miles on all purchases.
Best Small Business Card: The Chase Ink Business Preferred (80,000 bonus points currently, worth over $1400) is the best card for small business owners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be used for travel or transferred to partners like Southwest, United and Hyatt. The card earns 3x points on travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, and advertising with social media sites.
Easiest Card to Get Bonus: With the Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite Mastercard, you just have to make one purchase and pay the annual fee of $99 to get 60,000 American Airlines miles.
Please email us at email@example.com if you have questions about any of these cards.
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.