Updated: Oct 24, 2021
Spending money is all too easy nowadays. However, saving money—that is an art that few learn at a young age. But, as we get older, we typically find ways to save a buck or two, here or there, and it brings us a measure of delight.
But, when it comes to travel, a number of individuals have never learned the value of award travel—strategically using your miles & points—usually earned through credit card spending—to redeem airplane & hotel bookings.
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Credit Card Miles & Points Education
Miles & points earned by using credit cards are essentially a type of currency. This means that every time you use a credit card that offers rewards, you accumulate miles or points. The various credit card issuers have their own terminology to identify the rewards that they offer for using their credit card; some prefer to use "miles" while others use "points." Nonetheless, the terms are sometimes used interchangeably to mean the same basic thing—money in your wallet.
Credit card miles & points can be redeemed in a variety of ways. Most credit card issuers will have a cashback option. Nevertheless, usually, the most lucrative way to use the miles & points accumulated through credit card use is to transfer those miles & points to a transferable partner—if the credit card issuer has that option available.
Which Credit Card Should I Select?
There are a plethora of credit cards to select from. The credit card selection process is subjective for some; for others, it is objective. At times, our personal feelings may influence our decision; for others, they will consider the tangible benefits they would receive from their selection. Nevertheless, factors such as income, spending habits, credit score, etc. all play a factor in determining which credit card(s) will be an ideal fit.
When it comes to award travel, not all credit cards are created equal! Finding a credit card issuer that offers miles or points AND has the option to transfer those miles or points to a transferable partner is a critical component.
"Some of the BEST credit cards have an annual fee."
Several of the biggest credit card issuers that offer miles or points and utilize transferable partners are Chase, American Express, Citi, and Capital One. Chase uses a points system known as Chase Ultimate Rewards; American Express uses a points system known as Membership Rewards; Citi uses a points system known as Citi ThankYou Points; Capital One offers several credit cards that earn miles which are able to be transferred to one of its partners.
It should be noted that not all credit cards issued by their respective bank earn miles or points that can be transferred to a transferable partner; for example, some credit cards may be classified as a "cashback" credit card.
Are you looking for the right credit card that offers rewards tailored for your spending habits? Try our Credit Card Selector Calculator for FREE! It uses our proprietary algorithm which determines the best credit card in our database based on your spending habits. You will be able to determine the value of each credit card in your first year of use. Are you attempting to pay off your existing credit card debt and would like to speed up the process? You will benefit from our Credit Card Calculator. It allows you to enter different monthly payment amounts to determine the length of time to pay off your balance.
Perhaps the overall "best" credit card on the market for anyone getting started with Award Travel is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. Not only have the rewards been enhanced, but it currently has a 60,000 point welcome bonus—absolutely amazing! You can apply for this card here! You can also learn more about this card from the following post: Chase Sapphire Preferred—The Best Credit Card Just Got Better!
This is why it is beneficial to seek the services of a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant. They will be able to assess your personal situation, review your travel goals, and recommend a credit card that will allow you to accumulate the miles & points you will need to reach your destination.
The Complexity of Award Travel
So, you have enough miles & points to travel to your dream destination. Is it that simple? Unfortunately not. Having enough miles & points is only part of the equation.
The process of booking an award ticket can be quite frustrating—airlines release award seats at different times and offer a limited amount of award seats. And, if you are looking to fly business or first class—the challenge is multiplied!
In addition, airline loyalty programs—from time to time—will devalue their respective program. In fact, more airline loyalty programs are moving to dynamic award pricing versus a set award chart. What does this mean for you? The miles & points you thought were enough for that elusive award ticket may, in actuality, not be enough.
This is another reason to consider using a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant that offers an Award Booking Service. They will be in a prime position to do the "heavy lifting" and research an award ticket itinerary that matches your travel goals.
Transferring Your Miles & Points
You found an award ticket itinerary that matches where you want to go! What next? Transferring your miles or points to the airline loyalty program that made the award ticket available—if you do not have enough miles in the respective program already. This process is generally straightforward and is usually done online.
Nevertheless, not all miles & points transfers are immediate. Sometimes, the transfer will take more than 24 hours. Is that a problem? It could be—if there were limited award tickets available and someone else books the last award ticket(s) before you are able to complete the process. This is always a risk when transferring miles & points to a transferable partner.
That is why it is beneficial to consider using a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant that offers a service to help you transfer your miles & points to a transferable partner—they will be able to provide you with helpful insight to educate you on the transfer process and what can be done to mitigate potential issues.
Booking Your Award Ticket
You now have the necessary miles with the respective airline loyalty program to book your award ticket. What next? It is time to book your award ticket.
Although some airline loyalty programs enable their customers to book award tickets online, others require a booking the old-fashioned way—via telephone. And, to make matters a bit more challenging, the customer service experience from some of these airline companies is much to be desired. At times, the representative may not even have the knowledge or experience to book the award ticket, requiring multiple phone calls!
Using a Credit Card Miles & Points Consultant that offers an Award Booking Service will be of great value in these types of scenarios. They will be able to help you do the actual booking—which could save you money, time, and frustration. And, when you experience the end result—getting to your destination and saving a substantial amount of money in the process—you will be happy that you made the decision to consult with a professional!
Is It Safe to Travel?
It is always a good idea to perform a "background check" before you visit another state or country to determine if it is safe to do so. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted travel around the world, and it has left a large footprint that is visible for all to see.
Feel free to visit our COVID-19 Resources page which contains a useful tool that will allow you to do a "background check" on the state—or country— you desire to visit. Simply enter the name of the state or country within the search bar and useful links will automatically populate providing you access to COVID-19 warnings and other travel guidance.