Maximizing Air Miles Earned From Credit Card Spend

Maximizing Air Miles Earned from Credit Card Spend


Credit card spend is an obvious way of earning air miles and points, the second most obvious after flying.  It’s also an easy and sensible way to earn, but it’s a slow way to earn.  There are ways to speed up your earning rate though!  The key to maximizing the air miles and points you earn is to:


1) Use your credit card to pay for everything you possibly can

2) Diversify the airline and travel credit cards you have

3) Take advantage of any limited time promotions offering bonus points for spend


Using your credit card for everything you possibly can is self-explanatory.  Let me explain why diversifying the credit cards you have helps you maximize the miles and points you earn.


Different credit cards have different earn rates.  Most airline credit cards are one mile or point per dollar spent.  Credit Cards that are travel related, like the Barclays Arrival Plus, Capital One Venture, Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom Card either offer 2 x points or have bonus categories where you can earn 2 x, 3 x or even 5 x points. 


The travel credit cards either let you transfer the points you earn to your preferred airline account, and/or let you redeem for travel directly and/or let you apply to travel purchases you have made for an account credit.  Note, when choosing travel credit cards that allow transfers of points to an airline account, make sure they partner with your preferred airline first.


In the diversification approach, you use the credit card that earns the most points for the purchase you are making.  For example:

  • If you have the Citi Premier credit card you can earn 3 x points on all airfare, hotels, restaurants, groceries and gas
  • If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card you can earn 5 x points on Lyft and 3 x points on restaurants, groceries and streaming services
  • If you have the Chase Freedom card you can earn 5 x points for all purchases within the current categories (e.g. supermarkets, gas stations, movies) - the categories change quarterly
  • If you have an airline credit card you will have a higher earn rate (greater than 1 x mile per $) for purchases with that airline (flight tickets, baggage fees, food and drinks on-board etc.)


So, you would use the card that earns the most points for that purchase and then for purchases where you are not going to earn a higher mile/point rate, use your preferred airline or travel credit card to build up points in that program.


In addition, some credit cards will have promotional offers from time to time, designed to encourage you to use the card more, where if you meet a certain amount of spend within a set time frame, they will award you a set number of miles/points.  Watch out for these offers and adjust spend on your cards accordingly – they can be very lucrative.


Use the above rules in conjunction with shopping portals and the dining program and you’ll truly be maximizing the miles and points from every dollar you spend.


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