Newbie Road Map
Alright Noobs, I can feel your excitement about starting to acquire points for free travel. Your mind is going a mile a minute trying to process all this info and figure out where to go first. Let me help you out here, and give you a basic guideline to get started.
1. KNOW AND MONITOR YOUR CREDIT.
You can get a free (Experian) credit report at Credit Sesame. No credit card required!
Protecting your credit is vital in being able to leverage it for free rewards travel. Also, keeping your credit in good condition is going to guarantee you the best interest rates on any home or auto loans. But the great news is that you can take advantage of all these great offers, travel the world for pennies, AND keep your credit score in excellent condition. I do this, and there is nothing special about me. I know there may seem to be, but I’m just a normal dude, living the dream.
2. SIGN UP FOR REWARDS PROGRAMS.
It’s free to sign up for these programs and they often email special deals to their members. You’ll want to sign up for these programs before you apply for their credit card, because if not, they will create an account for you and it’s a more tedious process.
Keep it simple at first and focus on the major players:
3. KNOW WHAT CARDS TO APPLY FOR.
Before applying for any cards, do your homework and know the sign-up bonus, minimum spend requirement, category bonus/perks, and if it has an annual fee. You will want to pick out cards that fit your travel needs and plans. Also, think about getting cards that compliment each other.
For example: AMEX Membership Rewards points can be transferred into Delta and British Airways travel programs (many more too), so you can double dip your earning by having a card that earns Membership Rewards points and a transfer travel partner card such as the Delta Gold or British Airways Visa. They play nice together and allow you to really maximize your miles.
Diversifying your miles/points is a must, too. Having frequent flyer miles spread out over many different programs will only help you when it comes time to book an award flight. It’s all about options.
Here’s my blog post on how to pick out the right card for you.
There are many cards out there and each of them are different. Choose wisely, young grasshopper. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards and American Express’ Membership Rewards are the two leading rewards programs. Here are a couple of options to earn their points and a couple cards with their transfer partners.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. NOOB REVIEW.
- Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card - 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after $5,000 spend in 3 months. NOOB REVIEW. [Click here to see why it's great to start earning Ultimate Rewards.]
- American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card - 25,000 MR points when you spend $2,000 in 3 months. 3x points on airfare, and 2x points on gas and groceries.
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Expre - 30,000 Delta SkyMiles when you spend $500 in 3 months (free checked bags and priority boarding).
- The best American Express card is the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express - Check out the NOOB REVIEW.
More hot credit card deals can be found on my Sick deals page.
4. APPLY FOR CARDS.
When you apply for a rewards credit card, the bank backing that specific card will do what is called an “inquiry” on your credit. This initial inquiry to see if you are credit worthy will result in a 2-5 point ding on your credit report. Your score will easily recover from this initial ding, but by keeping all the negative impact on your credit score to one day, it allows your credit score to bounce back.
5. KNOW THE TOP TECHNIQUES.
There are strategies that savvy miles freaks use to expedite credit card approvals, get credit card denials reconsidered, get annual fees waived, receive miles for keeping cards open, know when to cancel a card, and increase their sign-up bonuses. Yeah, it sounds too good to be true, but it happens all the time, and you can take advantage of these tips TODAY. Just check out the links below for more information, and you will be well on your way to increasing your miles balance.
Check out my blog post on the effects of canceling your cards.
Here’s my blog post on what to do if you’re not approved for a card.
How to keep your miles from expiring.
6. USE YOUR CARDS.
There are many rewards cards that offer category bonuses in addition to a sign-up bonus. For example, I get 2x points per $1 on gas with my Ink Bold and 2x points per $1 on meals with my Chase Sapphire Preferred. Most rewards programs have shopping portals and dining programs as well. I use these for things that I was going to purchase anyway. My thought is, “A dollar spent that doesn’t earn a mile/point is a wasted dollar.” You are really adding value to your daily spending habits. Everything that you can run through your credit card, DO IT! Of course, pay off your balances before the end of your billing cycle.
7. JOIN THE DISCUSSION.
There is a very large group of free travel lovers connecting here at NoobTraveler. Comment on the blog posts and join in on the discussion. Email me if you ever have any questions, and of course subscribe to NoobTraveler and you will never miss out on another rewards travel deal.