Few know travel rewards resolutions better than Ben Levitz, a 24-year-old junior at New York City’s Hunter College. He took some time off from college to live in Las Vegas for a year, funded by the travel rewards (think welcome bonuses) that he earned from opening 25 credit cards.
But regardless of the number of cards you open or your travel goals, Levitz suggests a few resolutions you can do to earn points:
1. Consider minimum purchase requirements when choosing credit cards
If you’re trying to get a lot of welcome bonuses from multiple cards, make sure you can afford to meet the minimum spend of each within three months. If you feel you won’t meet the minimum spend requirements by charging your normal expenses, consider expenses you wouldn’t normally thinking about charging.
But make sure you can still pay the cards off each month, otherwise the benefits of the welcome bonus could be negated.
2. Read terms for receiving bonus miles or points carefully
Levitz was very careful to make sure he met all the requirements for spending in the time allotted. Missing a spending time frame could have cost him a 60,000 welcome bonus. Especially if you just opened more than one card for a welcome bonus, set calendar reminders to check to make sure you’re on track for spending the minimum you agreed to.
3. Drop cards down before annual fees hit
If you aren’t getting enough out of your credit card to make the annual fee worth it, you don’t have to lose all your privileges. Levitz suggests calling the issuer to see if you can drop down to another card so your annual fee may be eliminated and you can still earn rewards.
» Learn more: How to set a trip budget when traveling with friends
4. Pick a card with the perks you want
Some people are scared of flying, but may love visiting new hotels, taking trains or renting a car. Go over a travel credit card’s transfer partners carefully to make sure you can do what you want with the points. Some cards will let you do pretty much anything, while others may be primarily for flights.
5. Don’t let points or cash sales specials fly by
If ticket prices are low and you are exchanging travel at cash value, buying a ticket or hotel during a sale can save you travel rewards you can use for another trip. There may also be points sales that can disappear by end of day. When you have firm goals you have to reach, the points or cash from missing a sale can cost you a future trip.
6. Think of your rewards cards as part of an overall strategy
Levitz was able to accumulate a million points because he didn’t think of one credit card as a card universe. Each one had a unique role in his overall strategy. He picked a card with an airline he uses. He picked another card because it allowed him to bring guests into international priority lounges. And another card was picked for rewards he could use for hotels.
7. Pay attention to rules about applying for multiple cards from the same bank
For instance, a bank could have a rule that you could only open one new card from them every 24 months. If this is the case, study every card they offer. Then, choose the one with the best rewards for you.
How to maximize your rewardsYou want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2020, including those best for:
- Airline miles and a large bonus: The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
- No annual fee: The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
- Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: The Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card
- Premium travel rewards: The Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Business travelers: The Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane
How to snag credit card rewards flights in peak season
This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards