Do you want to earn a large number of points and miles for travel? Here are ten steps to earn points and miles through credit card sign ups. When it comes to earning points and miles, the biggest bang for the buck is usually the welcome bonuses offered by credit card companies. It’s common to see offers of 50,000 – 100,000 points for signing up for a single card. In this article we’ll share ten steps to consider when you sign up for a credit card.
This article is part of a series in which we lay out steps to save money and travel more. These steps include:
- Getting Started with Points and Miles
- Look and Learn Before You Leap
- Decide What Type of Reward Points You Want to Begin Earning
- Sign-Up For a Frequent Flyer Account
- Earn Your First Points
- Earn Points Through Credit Card Sign Ups- Part 1- Count the Cost
- Earn Points Through Credit Card Sign Ups- Part 2- Ten Steps to Follow
- Earn Points Through Credit Card Spending
- Earn Points Through Shopping Portals
- Earn Points When Dining
- Earn Points When Renting Cars and Booking Hotels
- Redeem Your Points for Travel
- Keep Your Points from Expiring
- Pick the Pace That Works For You
- Keep on Earning
In this article we discuss earning points through credit card sign-ups. But before jumping in, know that credit cards offer big rewards, but also carry risk. Check out our post on “Counting the Cost” of earning points through credit card sign-ups, to learn more about potential downfalls. Having said that, if you have the financial ability and discipline to payoff your credit statement in full each month, credit card signs up can help ordinary people travel to extraordinary places.
If you are ready to earn points through credit card sign ups, here are ten steps.
Step 1 – Sign up for a card that earns the type of points you plan to use
Which credit card should you sign up for? Do you fly American Airlines? Maybe you should sign up for an Citibank card that earns American Airlines miles. Do you stay at Hilton? Consider an American Express card that earns Hilton Honor points. Do you want the flexibility of earning transferable points? Consider a Chase Card that earns Ultimate Reward points.
Step 2 – Evaluate the Strength of the Welcome Offer
What’s better, a card which earns 50,000 Hyatt points for spending $5000 or a card which earns 150,000 Hilton points for spending $5000? As you begin looking at credit card welcome bonuses, here are questions to think through.
- How many points are offered?
- How valuable are these points? Not all points are created equal!
- Does the card come with an fee?
- What benefits does this card provide?
- Is the current welcome bonus at an all-time high or all time low? Is it somewhere in between? Credit card companies regularly raise and lower welcome bonuses.
Step 3 – Consider starting with Chase Cards
If you envision signing up for multiple cards over the course of your points-earning life, you may want to start with Chase credit cards, and then branch out to other card carriers. The reason is this: Chase will generally not approve you for a new card if you have 5 or more new cards in the last 24 months. This is referred to as the Chase “5/24” rule. If you want the option of applying for multiple cards, you may want your first cards to be with Chase. If not, the train can leave the station in regards to getting back under the limit of five new cards in any 24-month period.
Step 4 – Keep A Record of Your Application
When it comes time to applying for a new credit card, here’s a tip: Document key steps in the application process. Take a screenshot of the application page, and any relevant terms and conditions. Make sure you capture a screenshot that shows the number of points offered as a welcome bonus, along with the accompanying spending requirement. Capture a PDF or screenshot of your completed application.
The purpose of this recordkeeping is to have documentation in case you need proof of how many points should be spending, or a reminder of the information you entered. For example, the application will ask for your annual income. If on a follow-up call, the bank wants to confirm your income, it’s helpful to provide the same income amount that you put on the application.
Step 5 – If You Don’t Get Approved, Don’t Give Up!
Once the application is filled out, it’s time to hit the submit button. Once submitted, here are some of the possible outcomes.
- Hopefully you’ll get instant approval.
- You may receive a message that your application needs further review
- You may be asked to call in and confirm information
- In some instances, you may get denied
If you don’t get approved, don’t give up! Call the credit card company and make a case for approval. Most credit card companies have a “reconsideration” process. You’ll be able to call in and speak to a credit analyst. This is an opportunity to make your case on why you should be approved. Your initial rejection may have been generated by a computer algorithm that doesn’t take into consideration all the facts that are unique to your situation. Speaking to a live person may be just what it takes to get the card approved. Don’t be shy about calling for reconsideration, there’s little to lose.
Step 6 – Confirm the Sign-Up Bonus Once The Card Arrives
Once the card arrives, activate it, and confirm the welcome bonus. If you signed up for a 50,000 point bonus for spending $3000 in 90 days, make sure the bank confirms that bonus is attached to your new credit card. If there are any discrepancies, address them before you start spending on the card.
Step 7 – Track Your Total Spending Towards the Welcome Offer
If the welcome offer requires you to spend $3000 in order to get 50,000 points, don’t accidentally fall short by only spending $2999. The welcome bonus is all or nothing, you either hit the spending threshold and get 50,000 points, or you get nothing. Here are few tips to keep in mind as you track your spending…
- Keep a record of your spending – Log into your online credit card account to review your total spending.
- Factor in Returns – As you track spending, factor in returns. If you spend $3015, but need to return a $25 shirt you bought at Target, when the dust settles, you only spent $2990. Don’t only spend $2990, spend $3000! Factor in returns when tracking your total spending.
- Subtract Annual Fees – Some cards come with annual fees which are charged on the first statement. Annual fee’s normally do not count toward the spending requirement. If your card comes with a $95 fee, and you spend $2905 in charges, you will receive a credit card bill for $3000, but only the $2905 counts towards the spending requirement.
Step 8 – Meet the Spending Goal By The Deadline
If you have to spend $3000 in 90 days, mark it on your calendar. The 90 days often start from date of approval, not the date you receive the card. If it takes the bank 7-10 business days to mail out the card, you may already be 7-10 days into the 90 day period. Find out when the clock starts ticking and stay on top of the deadline. Our practice is to knock out the spending requirement sooner rather than later. Waiting until the last minute could mean missing out.
Step 9 – Make Sure Your Points Post
Once you meet the spending requirement, sure the points post to your account. Some credit card issuers will post the points at the end of the statement period in which you meet the spending threshold. For example, if you spend $3000 by April 4th, but your credit statement closes on April 20th, the points will post on April 20th. Other credit card companies will post the points mid-cycle, if you spend $3000 by April 4th your points may post April 5th or 6th, even though the statement doesn’t close until April 20th. In any case, monitor your account to make sure the points hit your account. If for whatever reason your points and miles don’t show up, contact the credit card company.
Step 10 – Make Plans to Use Your Points
Once the points are in your account, you can make plans to spend them. How will you use your points? As your points and miles balance grow, it opens up more possibilities for travel. Points and miles can help ordinary people travel to extraordinary places.