Beginners guide to cheap travel
The information on this post is for Beginners. If you are new to Miles and Points or Cash Back the information on this post should be able to help you to get started. If you ever wanted to:
· Travel to different cities or countries, but you could not because of affordability
· Stay for free at Luxury hotels
· Fly first Class on International flights
· Take the family for vacation every year
· Travel to a place on a travel magazine
· Fly Home for Holidays
· Fly a friend
All of these and more are possible with Miles and Points. I started collecting miles and point on 2nd half of 2012 and didn’t start burning them till 2013, since then I have earned over 3 million miles and points and burned over a Million.
Colleting Miles and Points requires a bit of planning and you really need to be organized, most of it is done by Credit Card Sign up Bonus. You will need to keep track of all your stuff, and if you’re into couponing then it’s very easy. So before you begin it is advisable not collect miles and point via Credit Card Signup Bonus if you have a big loan planned for next 24 months i.e loan like Mortgage, Car loan, Student Loan, Business Loan etc.
1. PLAN and Decide your Trips
Planning is very important part of your process. You need to plan your trip at least 6 month ahead. What this means is you decide exactly what places you want to visit, which hotels on those place you want to stay (preferably chain hotels like Marriott, SPG hotels) and how may airlines Miles and Hotel Points you will need to make it happen. Consider your Miles & Points like money, so before you buy anything in the store, you either consider if you have enough money to buy the item or how much you will need to buy the item so you can save the cash.
2. Sign up for the Programs
Signing up for Airline loyalty program and Hotel royalty program does not cost any money, you can go and sign up for all if you want, but I signed up for the program as I needed them. Keep an excel sheet with all the info on it like, the royalty no, username and password in case you forget them. Keep track of all your loyalty programs, I use Awardwallet.com
3. Know different ways to achieve airline Miles and Hotel Points
a. There is 1 way that I know off where you can fly to any destination for a faction of a cost that is by using airline miles, and 5 ways that I know off that you can earn/accumulate/generate airline miles.
i. Credit Card Signup Bonus
ii. Airline Mileage Run
iii. Online airline shopping portal payout as miles
iv. Buy or Gift Airline miles, when the airline runs special promotion to buy or gift miles for cheap.
v. Any other pop up promotion that you might encounter while traveling in magazine, airline lounge or targeted offer
b. Stays on hotels with points are normally free. Unlike airline you don’t have to pay taxes, there are some exceptions in some cities where the tax need to be paid. Ways to earn Hotel Points
i. Credit Card Signup Bonus
ii. Hotels may run special promotion, targeted or non-targeted where you can get hotel points.
4. Credit Score
Find out what your credit Score is, either by a paid service you can get the free Credit Score from www.creditseasme.com which shows your Experian report or www.creditkarma.com which shows your Transunion report. In my experience a credit Score of 700+ and debt to credit ratio of 30% or less is desirable to the banks to approve credit card.
5. Credit Card Sign Up Bonus
The easiest and fastest way to earn Miles and Points is by signing up Credit Card that offers Large Bonus at least 40,000-50,000 miles or point per sign up Bonus or something free hotel nights at any property. The reason I said earlier not to collect miles and point via Credit Card Signup I because in case you are trying to get a Mortgage or Loan, the Bank issuing the loan might have issued with various Credit Inquiry and open Credit Account, which may result for your loan to be denied. Your Credit score does decrease for each credits inquire, usually small less than 4 point for each inquiry. So if do decide to do this, make sure you pay off your balance each month, because paying interest does not serve its purpose.
6. Selecting The Card
Most of the Reward Credit Cards comes with Annual Fee, and for the most part the first Year is free (no Annual Fee). Although there are few cards that do charge you fee for the first year. So you have to decide which of the Reward Credit Card you will need that will serve your purpose of travel.
7. Applying for multiple Cards
Technically you can apply for as many as you want, who cares right? I hope things are that simple. If you are new to this I would take it slow, because when I started I got excited and applied for 4 card on the same day and I panicked when I had to meet 8000K minimum requirement in 3 month. So there is procedure that needs to be followed. You can apply for as many cards you want but most likely you will not get approved. So this is what you need to know.
a. Multiple application to one bank shows up as one Credit inquiry
i. If applying more than one card from a bank choose a personal version and a Business version
b. Credit Bureau does not update until the following day of application
i. Use Credit Pull Database to find out which bank uses which bureau from your state, when applying for multiple cards you need to spread out the credit pull among the bureau so it won’t look like you have a zillion inquire each time your applying for a credit
So you select cards, preferably from different Banks, like a Card from Amex, Citi, Chase, BOA, Barclay, US Bank etc. So for example you decide to get these cards
· Chase Sapphire Preferred ( Personal) 40,000 Points
· Chase Ink Plus (Business Card) 60,000 Points
· Citi AA Platinum Select ( Personal) 30,000 Points
· Citi AA Business (Business) 50,000 Points
· Amex SPG card (Personal) 25,000 Points
· Amex SPG Business (Business) 25,000 Points
These cards are just for example, you don’t have to apply for these, select your cards that cater to your need. So the above 6 card will only do 3 credit inquires on your credit report. One inquiry per bank and you earned 230,000 points. So when your Miles and Points are credited you can start booking your travel.