A Newbie’s Approach to Credit Card Points and Miles

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So you’ve taken advantage of Thrifty Traveler’s crazy cheap flight deals. You’ve read our articles on how to travel for cheap in cities on your bucket list. Maybe you’ve even signed up for Thrifty Traveler Premium to get insanely cheap flash sales to cities all over the world.

I’ve done same thing! Booked a wildly inexpensive flight to Phoenix from Minneapolis roundtrip. Got a Thrifty Traveler Premium flight deal from Minneapolis to Budapest for under $280! However, I knew that there was an aspect of being a Thrifty Traveler that I hadn’t yet tapped into; utilizing valuable credit card points and miles.

I was nervous about getting into the credit card points and miles world at first. I feared there had to be a “catch”, worried I wouldn’t be organized enough, and felt confused about what points and miles were and how to use them. After going to the first Thrifty Traveler Flight School conference, I realized that the benefits of credit card points and miles were definitely worth the effort.  I decided to open a few credit cards which I will outline below.


The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

The first card I opened was the Capital One Venture Rewards credit card. This was an easy choice for me, especially with earning the 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and then earning 2X miles on every dollar. These miles are a great way to save money on Thrifty Traveler flight deals, or even cover the cost of an Airbnb.


Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Once I received my signup bonus on the Capital One Venture Rewards card, I wanted to try another. Thrifty Traveler got me really excited about the sign-up bonuses you can receive. After reading that the Chase Sapphire Preferred card was Thrifty Traveler’s top recommendation, I knew this would be my “long-term relationship” card. The sign-up bonus is great (currently 50,000 – equivalent to $625 towards travel), and you earn 2X points on restaurants and travel worldwide.


Credit Card Consulting

One of the best perks of the Thrifty Traveler Premium membership is that every Premium member gets FREE credit card consultations with Nick Serati, points and miles extraordinaire. Nick helped me choose both of these cards based on the categories I spend money in and my upcoming travel goals.


How I Reach Sign-Up Bonus Requirements

The best thing about these cards is their sign-up bonuses! 50,000 points (almost $700 towards travel) for spending $3,000 in the first three months? Sign me up. However, I know that number can sound scary to someone that’s new to points & miles. Here’s what I do to meet those spend requirements:

  • Check, please! I pay for the bill when I go out to eat with friends or family. They can then Venmo me their portion of the bill. That way I get points, and we save the waiter the hassle of splitting the check.
  • I pay rent and utilities each month with my credit cards. For utilities, I set up autopay on my Capital One Venture Rewards card. For rent, you might be able to cut your landlord a check with Plastiq. A 2.5% fee, but worth it if you’re trying to reach that sign-up bonus!
  • I paid my tuition with my credit cards! Not everyone will have this expense, but if you do, or have a child is in school, consider paying the tuition expense with your card. There will likely be a processing fee to use your credit card, but the sign up bonus you will earn could be worth the fee.


Bottom Line

I am officially in the credit card points and miles game with these two cards, and am excited to continue to learn. I can’t wait to use these points on incredible travel experiences that would otherwise cost me a fortune. Are you a Premium Subscriber? To access your complimentary credit card consultation, email Nick Serati at [email protected]


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Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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