Smart Money Podcast: ‘What’s the Best Way to Rack Up Travel Rewards Quickly?’

Sean PylesJul 22, 2019

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Welcome to NerdWallet’s Smart Money podcast, where we answer your real-world money questions — in 15 minutes or less.

This week’s question is from Kevin M. He asks: “How can I squeeze the most value out of my travel credit card for a summer vacation I have coming up?”

Need points fast? It’s all about the sign-up bonus. Shop around to see which cards offer the best upfront rewards. . You’ll typically have to spend a certain amount on the card within a specified time to earn the bonus. (It’s a good idea not to charge more to the card than you can pay in full when each statement comes; otherwise, you could end up paying more in interest than you can gain in rewards value.)

Before your vacation, do the most to earn points with your card. You have a number of ways to do this. First, try covering all available purchases with your credit card. You can also pick up the tab when going out to dinner with friends and ask to get paid back in cash. Also, keep an eye out for limited-time offers to earn more points.

Shop smart while on vacation to earn more points. If you don’t have time to earn points before your upcoming vacation, optimize your shopping while on vacation. Aim to get the most points from your credit card to apply toward .

Know that your points can take a billing cycle or two to be credited to your account. Be smart about your timing to make sure you actually have the points you want to use on your vacation.

Have a money question? Text or call us at 901-730-6373. Or you can email us at

On a similar note...
Dive even deeper in Personal Finance