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Actual Strategies to Accumulate Airline Points

Without pulling your hair out!

an airplane wing over the mountains

Airline points feel like a weird form of magic. Flying without having to pull out your credit card? Seems fake.

I would see stories of folks who’ve traveled all around the world without spending a dime. I would be amazed, but I would be baffled. I just couldn’t make it make sense.

Then I sat down and did the math. Now, I have a points-earning strategy that works. The very first year that I started using this strategy, I booked flights twice using only my points, and one of those trips was to Mexico!

This strategy came at the cost of revamping the way that I manage my monthly finances. It was a big change but it paid off powerfully and immediately. Hopefully it’ll inspire you to find your own way. It takes some doing, but if you’re looking to make travel a priority, it’s an amazing method.

Step 1: Pick Your Favorite Airline and Sign Up for their Credit Card

Yeah, there are some cards out there that give you generic miles that you can use anywhere, but I’ve found that the fastest way to accumulate points is to be more or less loyal to one airline.

I picked American. I like their planes and they have screwed me over the least over the years! I fly American almost exclusively within the USA, and always look into them as an option for international flights as well.

There might be an annual fee on the card. The annual fee for my card is $99. The annual fee made me resist an airline card for a long time, but compare that fee to the average cost of a flight. If you purchase even one flight with points you’ll make that money back and more!

view out of an airplane window

Step 2: Time Your Sign Up Well

Wait to sign up until they have a great sign up bonus! Most often, it’ll be a good amount of free miles. They’re nearly always offering something, so wait for a good one!

Also, remember that your credit score will probably take a slight hit when you first sign up, so make sure you’re prepared for that. But don’t sweat that too much. The next step in the process did wonders for my credit score.

Step 3: Treat Your New Airline Credit Card Like a Debit Card

Make this the go-to card that you pull out of your wallet. Use it for all your day-to-day expenses. I’m talking gas, groceries, coffee runs, trips to Target for toilet paper… Link it to online accounts that you frequently order from, like Amazon or DoorDash or Lyft. Everything that’s not already on an automatic payment from your checking account, change it to your new credit card.

Then, on every payday, pay off the card in full.

Or you can pay it off even more frequently if that makes you more comfortable! The point of this card is not to rack up a balance that you pay off slowly. The point of this card is to use it to spend the money you already have. You’re just using this card instead of using your debit card. This way, instead of just coming out of your checking account, every dollar you spend counts toward airline points.

The points will flow in. And your credit score will probably go up too!

And that's the foolproof airline points system!

Is it a mental shift to start handling your finances this way? Yes. It takes flexibility and attention.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Since starting this method, I’ve traveled multiple times a year completely on my airline points, which I earned by using my airline credit card to make my everyday purchases. It adds up fast!

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Love and Shenanigans,


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