Upgrade Your Earnings: How To Earn the Most Miles

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Are you excited yet? Since you’re this far in, you’ve already learned about, planned, and implemented the beginning stages of your strategy to earn points and become an astute points traveler!

The next 2 stages are where the real excitement starts: earning and redeeming points.

Where To Begin Earning Points and Miles

The best place to begin looking for information on how to earn miles would be to check out our guides. In these articles, we show you how to build points in whatever loyalty program you have chosen, whether it’s an airline, hotel, or card rewards center.

For example, if you’ve chosen to get the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard, you can check out our guide on earning points for American Airlines. You may also find some additional tips in the credit card review.

As time goes on, we will continually add to these guides and write new ones where appropriate, so you can find the best ways to earn points with all your cards.

So…How Does It Actually Work?

Every time you swipe your card, you’ll earn points automatically. Credit card companies have an automated system that will detect each purchase category, apply the appropriate multiplier, and add points to your account.

Your account will accrue either under your credit card portal (where you sign in to manage your card) or your loyalty account where the points go. It’s not a bad idea to follow up and check that the points are depositing correctly each month.

We recommend reviewing each account once a month. The credit card companies have made it pretty easy to see where you are earning points nowadays.

For instance, the following report shows up on your monthly statement for Chase:

The Ultimate Rewards Summary from Chase’s Monthly Statements.

Check your card statements as well as your loyalty accounts. Most loyalty programs will send you a monthly summary.

For instance, you can see an example summary from AAdvantage here. It gives you your previous balance, newly posted miles, current balance, and an update on your elite status progress. Pretty useful!


Notes on Points and Miles Earned

As mentioned before, points can take a while to hit your account. Each credit card company is different, and each type of card is different.

For instance, bank rewards portal cards will deposit points quicker since they own the system and it is all in one. You can expect points to post within a couple weeks, or maybe at the end of each month.

For partnered cards, it can take longer. Your credit card company has to notify the other company’s loyalty account that you have earned points to ensure that they are transferred and deposited.

This simply takes longer because there are multiple parties involved.

Things like the sign-up bonus and other bonuses take a little longer in general, especially because you usually have to meet certain requirements to do so.

These requirements are likely confirmed in some way, and therefore take a while to be both verified and deposited.

Get yourself familiar with all the best ways to earn, and soon you’ll see your points accounts filling up! At that point, you’ll be able to start turning your points into redemptions.

Links to All Our Earnings Guides

Part 12: Redeeming Your Miles >>

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Apply Now Full review


Do I have to be signed up to a credit card to earn loyalty points?
No, but you definitely will not earn them as quickly. To earn loyalty points without having a credit card, simply pay for services for your chosen loyalty account in whatever way you have (debit card, cash, etc.) and use the service.

Each time you use the service, you will earn loyalty points or miles.

Note that you will NOT earn loyalty account points if you don’t use the service. For instance, you can’t earn miles if you pay for a flight and don’t get on it. You physically have to make the trip or stay the night in the hotel to earn the points.

With a credit card, all you have to do is spend money on the card and watch the points accrue. You can also purchase miles and points for hotels through their loyalty programs.

In fact, you’ll often be able to purchase miles at a good value if you need to add some to your account in order to make a redemption.

How do I earn points or miles in my loyalty program?
Many people ask a question about earning in a specific loyalty program. Here is a list of popular programs and their guides to earning miles:

How do I check that I earned my miles or points?
You’ll have to do this manually. Go into your loyalty account and look at your balances. Do they seem correct? Take a look at your spending (you should be tracking your finances) and determine if you are missing any points.

Sometimes airlines or hotels mess up when adding points for using their services, so it’s always best to make sure you were credited.

If you weren’t, just call customer service with your reservation information and they can add it after the fact. Be sure to keep records of these to help with documentation.

However, you can do this all in one place if you use a points tracking program. One of the best is called Award Wallet.

Take a look at our Must See Resources page for more ideas.

Is there a maximum number of points I can earn?
This really depends on the card, but usually not. The more you spend and use, the more you earn. While there are sometimes limits on special bonuses you can earn, you’ll generally earn something for every purchase you make.

People have earned millions and millions of miles and points! Just be sure not to let them go to waste.