Earn more! How to use your points and miles better in 2024

Like many travel enthusiasts, I have a travel wish list that I am constantly trying to cross off. However, the challenge lies in finding the most economical way to do so. Many of us use credit card rewards for flight bookings, but sometimes we are left feeling unsure if we are truly getting the best value from our rewards. That’s why a few years ago, I made it a New Year’s resolution to help readers understand how to maximize their points and miles. By using rewards more efficiently, you can minimize your travel expenses and explore a greater number of places.

One approach to maximizing travel rewards is to use Chase points for hotel stays. While many people consider using Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book flights, there is so much more you can redeem these points for. One option is to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to World of Hyatt to book a hotel stay. Hyatt points are generally worth significantly more than other hotel rewards programs. For example, 25,000 World of Hyatt points are enough for a standard free night at a Category 6 property like the Great Scotland Yard Hotel or the Park Hyatt Chicago. Redeeming these points could get you into a room that would otherwise cost more than $500 per night on most dates. Additionally, World of Hyatt gives all members waived resort fees on award stays, which can add to the savings. To earn fully transferable Ultimate Rewards points, consider adding the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, or the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card to your wallet.

Another tip for maximizing travel rewards is to learn how to transfer credit card rewards. While you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book travel directly in the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, it’s important to compare the value you’re getting. For example, let’s say you want to book a one-way flight from San Francisco International Airport to Washington, D.C.’s Dulles International Airport. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel through the portal at 1.5 cents apiece. Alternatively, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United MileagePlus at a 1:1 ratio and book the flight for 15,000 MileagePlus miles and $5.60 in taxes and fees. It’s important to check award rates with transfer partners before redeeming rewards directly through your credit card issuer’s travel portal to ensure you are getting the best value.

Tracking your points and miles is crucial for maximizing their value. Luckily, there are many ways to track your rewards accurately. While some people used to track their rewards manually in a Word document, this can be time-consuming and cumbersome. Using an automated tool like the TPG App can make tracking easier. The TPG App keeps track of all your balances in one place, automatically calculates their value, and alerts you when they will expire. This can help inform your travel plans and ensure you are using your rewards wisely.

Signing up for all loyalty programs is another important step in maximizing travel rewards. Even if you aren’t loyal to one airline or hotel chain, signing up for their loyalty program whenever you fly or stay can add more rewards to your balance. You might even get extra perks, such as free Wi-Fi during your hotel stay, just for being a member. While you may not want to join every program out there, consider ensuring you have a frequent flyer number listed on every flight you take. This can build up rewards in various programs that could eventually get you a free trip.

Using online shopping portals is another way to stack award points. Many credit cards, airlines, and hotels have online shopping portals that partner with thousands of merchants. By starting at the portal before making your purchase, you can earn bonus points or miles on thousands of items. For example, if you want to buy a transfer or tour through Viator, instead of going directly to the Viator website, you can click through an airline’s shopping portal to earn extra rewards. If you prefer earning cash instead of points and miles, there are also online shopping portals like Rakuten and TopCashback that offer cashback rewards. Using a shopping portal aggregator can help you find the program that offers the best return for your merchant.

In conclusion, maximizing travel rewards doesn’t have to be complicated. By following these tips, such as using Chase points for hotel stays, learning how to transfer credit card rewards, tracking your points and miles, signing up for all loyalty programs, and using online shopping portals, you can make the most of your rewards and minimize your travel expenses. With a little planning and strategy, you can explore a greater number of places without breaking the bank. So start maximizing your travel rewards and embark on your next adventure using reward points.

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