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Last week, I wrote a post called Travel Hacking 101 with Credit Card Miles and Points. Open a new card, earn the bonus, use two-player mode, book travel awards, repeat.
For most people, that is the easiest way to earn miles and points quickly for award travel. However, there are many other ways to earn extra miles and points that don’t require butt-in-seat flights or hotel stays. Some people focus on some of these or all of these strategies. The cool thing about travel hacking is you can put a little effort into it or a lot of effort into it (and maybe drive yourself crazy in the process.) Your choice!
Maximize Category Spending
If you own a few credit cards, become familiar with how much each card earns in different spending categories. Then, when you’re not working on spending for your next sign-up bonus, you can get the most miles and points from each purchase.
For example, my husband’s Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X points at restaurants, so we always use that card when we go out to eat. My Chase Ink Preferred card earns 5X points at office supply stores. So, whenever I need to buy gift cards, I use that card at my local Staples store.
I recommend focusing on just a few big categories to keep it simple. Nobody wants to think too hard before every single purchase.
Card Referral Bonuses
When you already have a credit card, sometimes you can earn extra miles and points by referring your friends and family to that same card. For example, the Capital One Venture X card has a 25,000 bonus for friend and family referrals. After I was approved for the card, my husband applied through my personal referral link. Shortly after, I received my extra 25k points. To see if any of your current cards have referral links, log into your online account or check the app.
The major credit card families have their own online travel portals. If you have flights, hotels or rental cars you need to book on a cash rate, booking through these portals can be lucrative for earning points. For example, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture X cards offer 5X points for flights and 10X points for hotels booked through their respective travel portals.
Many airlines, hotels and banks have their own shopping portals where you can earn extra miles and points for online purchases. Check out this list of shopping portals. I’m not always great about using these. However, every year I always log into TurboTax through the Southwest Airlines shopping portal to earn an extra 1000 Rapid Rewards points for doing my taxes.
Many hotels offer quarterly promotions for extra points after meeting certain requirements. For example, Hyatt currently has a Bonus Journeys promotion of 2022 additional points for every two nights, plus World of Hyatt credit card members get an additional 1000 points per additional stays in select hotels. The trick is that you have to sign up for these promotions in order to get the additional points. I usually sign up for every promotion just in case my plans fit.
Credit Card Promos
Many times, credit cards offer extra miles/points for putting more transactions or spending on the card during a defined time period. For example, last year the World of Hyatt credit card offered 5000 bonus points for 50 transactions in a month.
This is a somewhat controversial phrase in travel hacking. Manufactured spending is a way to use credit cards to buy products or services that you typically re-sell in order to earn a lot of miles and points. For example, you can buy gift cards at a discount online with a credit card and then turn around a re-sell them. However, you have to be very careful with this type of spending. Some banks will shut down your accounts if you cycle through your spending limit multiple times in a billing cycle and buy excessive gift cards.
There are many ways to earn extra miles and points, and this is definitely not an exhaustive list. To keep up with these various deals and promos, you have to keep checking your email and read blogs. I wish it were easier!
I’m not always great about taking advantage of all these opportunities. Often, I find the small amount of extra points are not worth the effort. But, using these methods will help you reach your travel goals more quickly.
Readers, what are your favorite methods to earn additional miles and points?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.