I love to travel. Whether it’s for work or pleasure (or a little of both), I love to see the sights, visit a few touristy places, sample the local fare, and meet-or make-local friends. The only downside? Travel can be expensive. Plane tickets or transportation, hotels, meals on the go, souvenirs– it all adds up, and quick.
I’ve been learning more about accumulating credit card rewards to help pay for travel expenses and earn things like free flights or free hotel stays. I’m still new to travel hacking, but I have managed to earn some decent bonuses and have accumulated a fair amount of miles for travel.
I’m working on coming up with a plan to save up miles and rewards to travel to Europe for my 40th birthday in the next year or two. We figured we’d celebrate our 40th birthdays and our 15-year wedding anniversary all at once with a trip to London and Paris. It’s a pricey trip, but we’ve managed to map out a plan using miles and rewards that will make our trip nearly free!
A big part of that is paying attention to new cards that come on the market and using them to earn points that we can save for our big trip. That’s why I was thrilled to hear all about the new Discover it Miles card. It has some pretty sweet benefits that will give you generous rewards.
Here are some ways to take advantage of reward programs:
Use credit wisely:
I’ve been guilty of not doing this in the past, but we’re on track and working hard to pay off all our debts (we’re so close!). In the meantime, I still use our credit cards to rack up rewards by paying regular monthly bills and expenses with the best card for our expenses.
Tip: Even if you don’t use a particular credit card regularly you should keep your account open and active by attaching a small monthly bill that gets automatically paid off such as a subscription service. This allows you to maintain your accounts, keep your credit score high, and shift to the card that will reward you the best for your purchases.
Pay attention to extra rewards:
Check what your credit card offers for rewards and if there are certain times of year that you will earn extra rewards. It’s wise to keep track of this as it may shift with certain cards. If you want to keep it simple, look for a card that offers a flat percentage back on all purchases.
Tip: The Discover it Miles card offers 1.5x Miles for every $1 you spend. In addition, you’ll get a first year bonus of an additional 1.5x Miles, bringing the total up to 3x Miles for every $1 you spend at the end of your first year!
Use your points wisely:
Accumulating points may seem like the easy part with certain cards. It may feel next to impossible to use your points to actually go on vacation. Blackout dates, high points costs for dates you want to travel, and restrictions may mean you never actually get to reap your rewards. Before you sign up for a reward credit card read all the fine print. Look for a card that offers the ability to fly at anytime and anywhere you might need or want to go.
Tip: Keep track of your rewards by checking in each month when you pay your monthly bill. Also, the Discover it Miles card includes a benefit that cardmembers can fly any airline, anytime
Do the math:
One of the most important things you can do when you’re considering a credit card for rewards is to do the math. In some instances the miles you earn wouldn’t be worth the annual fee you pay while in other cases you max out your rewards limit fairly quickly.
Tip: The new Discover it Miles card offers 1.5x Miles per dollar spent AND Discover will DOUBLE all of the Miles you have earned at the end of your first year. That’s like earning 3% for regular spending or monthly bills you’re already paying.
Know how you earn:
Be sure you understand exactly how to earn, and how to earn the most whether it’s bonuses, year-end benefits, or shopping through a special portal.
Tip: Discover’s shopping portal, Discover Deals here.
Earn while you vacation:
Why stop at earning on everyday expenses or monthly bills? Use your credit card during your vacation to earn even more while you travel.
Other ways to redeem:
Don’t get stuck with reward points or miles you can’t use. Be sure you can use your points towards other rewards as well in case you aren’t able to travel.
Tip: Discover’s it Miles can be redeemed as a statement credit towards travel expenses or as cash.
Why choose the Discover it Miles card?
It has all the same great features as other Discover cards and features great savings. There is currently no signup bonus, and the 1st year spending bonus more than makes up for that.
Some of the other benefits of using the Discover it Miles card are:
- Cardmembers can fly any airline, any time
- A $30 annual in-flight Wi-Fi credit
- Miles that never expire
- $0 Fraud Liability Guarantee
- Free FICO® Credit Score on monthly statements, mobile app and online account center
- 100% U.S. – based customer service available all day and night
- Ability to pay your bill up to midnight (ET) the day it is due by phone or online
Do you have experience using a rewards card for travel? What advice do you have?
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Discover. I was compensated for my time as part of the Discover Preferred Blogger Network. All opinions are my own.