There is a lot of things to learn and I don't want to bore you guys to death. So I would be creating multiple posts to go through all the details. Before you read this article, please make sure of the following things, if not one criteria is met- please turn around and come back when you satisfy all of these-
You are not a gambler but you are not a pussy either
So before we start applying for credit cards, we need to lay the groundwork first. Please follow the steps in sequence in this article. At the end of it, you would achieve credit card nirvana.
Step 1- Sign-up for Hotel/ Airlines/ Car Rental Loyalty Programs
One of the very basics to make your travel cheap or free is to get all the bonus and perks that come with the all the hotel, airline and car rental loyalty programs. And while you are at it, it racks up miles and points which otherwise be left on the table- which is a cardinal sin in this hobby. All the loyalty programs wish you stick to them for all your travel needs. While we would be stupid to really stick to one program without doing the price/ benefits comparison- I have found it is always better to be a 'member' than not be one. However small the benefit may be, it is always there. Be it the free Internet during stay or 5% discount in rates during booking or a very elaborate breakfast for each family member which might run you $100s each morning. for So let's sign up for it even if some of these might seem redundant right now, you would need it soon-
In future posts, I would compare various hotel/air/car loyalty programs and from which you can extract maximum value. But as I mentioned earlier, each one has benefits one its own. So please don't skimp on signing up for the programs.
Tip:- It can be daunting to remember all the passwords, so think about a single complex passcode
Step 2- Get To Know Different Credit-Card Rewards Programs
If I have to sum up the importance of credit-card rewards programs in two words, it would be-
The inherent shortcoming of any and all travel loyalty program is those are mostly non-transferrable. If you have a ton of hilton points but going to a place where you would need to stay at a marriott, you can't use those points. Therein lies the important usage of the credit-card rewards points.
The three most dominant players in this space are Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, American Express Membership Rewards points and Citi Thank You Points. But I am going to walk through all available programs you can use. Please note you have to sign up for specific credit cards to use these programs, I am going to discuss the programs here-not the credit cards- which we will talk about in future posts.
In our next part, we are going to discuss application strategies and rules for different credit card programs. Before you jump on that, go through the criteria I described at the beginning of this post. It is imperative to understand that you have to be disciplined to reap the benefits of this hobby but boy, the benefits are amazing. Stay tuned...