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The Most Important Thing To Have When Earning Points and Miles

by joeheg

When people first get exposed to the world of points and miles, it seems like you’re able to earn points hand over fist with little effort. I mean, just do a few Google searches and you can find documents showing techniques on how to make hundreds of thousands to millions of miles a year. Here’s where you need to have the most important thing when it comes to earning points and miles.


I don’t want to sound like a prude but I just can’t help but shake my head when I read a post online asking, “I just signed up for a card and met the $10,000 spending requirement in 8 days by buying money orders and gift cards. When can I cancel the card?”

Of course, there are also the posts crying about their troubles, like the ones saying “I cycled $50,000 through my CC with a $5,000 CL by cashing in gift cards for money orders in one month. Chase just shut down my account, WHY??? Who can I complain to?”

Really? What are you thinking!?!?!?!? You wonder why you got shut down? Did any of what you did seem like “normal” in any way? Even moreso because you just received the card 1 week ago. What should a bank think?

I’m expecting two responses to people who made it this far into the article.

  1. The group who is asking, “Do people really do this?”
  2. The Manufactured Spenders who are getting ready to type angry replies to this post.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about (MS) Manufactured Spending. I’ve written about what I think about that topic in this post. I consider it to be the wizardry area of earning points and miles. It takes talent, time and knowledge to learn how to do MS right, so it doesn’t blow up in your face and I’d rather be over here, learning how to make feathers float.


Why Common Sense?

This isn’t Monopoly money. This is real money with real-world consequences. If the only reason you care about your credit report is to get a new credit card, this might not matter to you. However, if you need a car, a house or apartment, any type of insurance or a job, all of those places also pull your credit file. How will it look if you have 20 credit cards you’ve maxed out and canceled in three months?

Forget about how you look to a bank. If you keep gaming them, they will catch up to you. Either the AMEX RAT Team or the new Chase and Citi application rules are going to bite you in the @$$. You might think, “Who cares? I’ll just go onto the next thing. There are plenty of cards or checking accounts out there. I’m smarter than the banks and credit card companies.”


What’s The Right Way?

I don’t think there’s a right way to approach points and miles. That’s one of the main reasons Sharon and I started Your Mileage May Vary in the first place. What’s right for one person might not be right for another. However, being irresponsible with your finances isn’t the right approach for anyone.

  • If you’re new to the game, start slow. Learn the ropes. Look before you jump.
  • Focus on the things you know. If you like Marriott, learn about Marriott. You can branch out later. No harm in maxing out benefits from the things you know.
  • Don’t jump into every program at once. Having small balances in every program isn’t worth anything. Learn to have focus and stick to a few programs.

I can’t stress that last one enough. If you don’t have good credit or lack financial discipline (there’s a big difference between having $500,000 in credit available and using $500,000 in credit). If you don’t think you’re responsible enough, set yourself some limits. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

Feature photo from Frits Ahlefeldt

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