Beginner’s Guide to Credit Cards

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Welcome to the world of travel rewards! Many people feel like they can’t benefit from points and miles loyalty programs because they travel infrequently, but nothing could be further from the truth. Almost anyone can leverage the insane value of miles and points to travel the world. Travel can be expensive, but there are ways to significantly reduce the cost.

The key to being a Thrifty Traveler is to accumulate loyalty points/miles, primarily through credit card sign-up bonuses. Even signing up for as few as 1-2 cards will allow you to travel almost anywhere in the world for next to nothing. By signing up for credit cards and maximizing travel loyalty programs, I have earned over 10 million points and miles in the last decade. You can too. Simply follow the steps below.


Step 1: Sign up for airline/hotel loyalty programs


Top airline programs

American Airlines 

Delta Airlines 

Southwest Airlines 

United Airlines 


Top hotel programs


IHG (Intercontinental Hotel Group)

Marriott Rewards & Starwood Preferred Guest

Club Carlson

Hilton (Honors)


Step 2: Sign-up for Travel Rewards Credit Cards 

I generally sign up for several cards a year and maintain a 780 or better credit score. In fact, if you properly manage your credit cards it should improve your overall score. I recommend monitoring your credit score for free through Credit Karma.

The key to this is to have strong organizational skills and pay your cards on time and in full every month.

Our Top Card offers:


Step 3: Meet Spend requirements

The hard work is done and now you should keep track of the date you were approved for the card and strategize how to meet the spending requirements. Do not fall into the common pitfall of buying stuff you don’t need to hit the spending requirements. If you have large spending requirements I would recommend the following strategies:

  1. Everyday spending (Ensure all autopay bills are changed to your new cards)
  2. Pay for friend’s and family’s share of meals, trips, etc.
  3. Purchase items on SlickDeals to resell on Craigslist
  4. Pay Taxes
  5. Pay Rent


Step 4: Travel

Now it’s time to book your trip. Curious how many points it takes to redeem a flight or book a hotel room? Use the following resources:

  • Use Awardhacker to determine which airline program will require the least points to fly you to your next destination
  • Use Award-o-matic to find hotels you can book with points in any city


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