Before you even start earning points and learning the tricks of the trade, and considering the best credit card to earn points, it’s important to get some things in order. Here are my recommendations for things to consider before you jump into the points & miles hobby.
There are a ton of blogs out there that lots of information, but it can be hard to sort through all the data. Not everyone has the time or interest to read through the materials, so I thought I’d give you some quick tips on how to get started:
Before you even begin the process of accumulating credit card points and figuring out the best credit card to earn points, you need to make sure that your financial house is in the order. Basically, you need to have confidence that you can pay your credit card bill in full every month. Otherwise, any finance charges will negate the value of your accumulated points. I can’t stress this enough!
A lot of folks who ask me for help get annoyed when I bring this up, but I think it’s critical to have complete control and awareness of your finances before you engage in this hobby. There are several tools available to help manage your finances, such as:
For me, I’ve used You Need a Budget (or YNAB for short) since 2010, and it has been a tremendous tool for me.
When you get into this hobby, it’s important to be strategic with how you earn your points. Do you spend a significant amount eating out every month? Groceries? What about for work – does your work reimburse you for travel expenses. Once you figure out where the bulk of your discretionary spending occurs, then it’s important to find the right card and services to max out your point earnings.
Determine your travel goals and preferences
It’s important to understand your travel goals and preferences before you start applying for cards and figuring out the best credit card to earn points. Here is a list of questions that you should ask yourself:
- Do you want to focus on airlines, points or both?
- What part of the world are you planning to travel?
- Are you hoping to stay domestic or travel internationally?
- What airlines serve your home airport?
- When you fly, do you plan to fly economy or business class (or maybe even first class)?
Know your credit score
Make sure you know your credit score before you apply for a credit card, and do some research before applying to ensure your credit card is strong enough to support the application. You can check your credit score for free at Credit Karma.
Those are my top 3 tips to follow BEFORE you dive into the hobby. I’ll be diving deeper into this topic in future videos, so stay tuned for more.