Some of us dream of stepping on board an aircraft and reclining into one of those huge Business or First class seats and having our own taste of luxury in the sky. Now you can make those dreams come true. All with a little loyalty and a piece of plastic. That’s right, it’s that easy. With a little bit of loyalty and a credit card to your most flown airline you can be that person.
Let’s set some disclaimers first…
-Must be 18 years of age or older.
-Must have decent credit (650+)
Those are the only two things you need to adhere to to make this work. Still with us? Good let’s get into the basics. As stated you must have a decent credit score and be 18 years of age or older to even apply for an airlines credit card or any credit card for that matter. So once those two things have been established it’s time to make your choice, which card will you go for? It’s advised to go for a starter card at first with a low annual fee as it takes time to learn the in’s and out’s of this hobby and you don’t want to go in spending a lot of money on an annual fee to start. For me it was easy, I went with the Delta gold sky miles card which had a sign up bonus of 60,000 points for $3,000 spent in the first 90 days (3 months) and a $95 annual fee which was waived for the first year. I fly Delta a lot so it was the obvious choice for me. Now i’m not telling you to go out and spend $3,000 on things you don’t need or that you won’t use. That’s just a horrible idea. Start out by spending on your everyday things like grocery shopping or filling up your car’s gas or maybe a membership you may have. It really helps get that sign up bonus within close reach. If those don’t work you can eventually turn to family to see if they have a big expense coming up that they’ll allow you to put on your card and they can reimburse you. You can always pay for the times you eat out as well to help inch closer to the bonus. Last but not least which is not recommended is you can go to your local CVS and buy prepaid gift cards in $500 increments and buy a money order with them. That way you can put it back into your bank account and pay off the card. Again this is not advised as companies are cracking down on “gaming” the system.
Let’s talk more about earning those ever so delightful points. Some ways I’ve found incredibly useful is on gas. My car is a V6 and takes premium gas so my prices are quite high every week. So I’ve decided to cut them down. One way to do that is by using the Shell fuel rewards program. By signing up you automatically get 0.05 cents per gallon off. It’s not much but you can build it up to as much as $1.00 or more off per gallon after qualifying purchases using your linked card. Of course we want to earn points as much as possible so I linked my Delta Amex card to the app. This allows me to save up on gas for my car while still earning points! Sounds great right? Another thing I love about being in an airline reward program is the shopping portal. If I ever need new clothes or decide to get something for a birthday or even some flowers for mothers day like I just did I earn miles! Most earn about 3 miles/ per dollar spent or more which is a bit better than the initial spending benefits on the card which usually are 1x the points on those type of purchases. So I love the shopping portal whenever I need to go shopping.
Picture by: God Save the Points
Now that you have a simple understanding on how to earn the points, let’s find out how to redeem them. Below you’ll find an award chart which show’s how many points it will take to fly between airport A and airport B. Award charts are incredibly useful as they help you score the lowest fare possible. Although the flights are still relatively free you always want to grab the lowest fare to ensure you have as many points left over as possible. The name of the game is to rack up the points, so if your going out buying a 45,000 point flight when a 28,000 point flight is available it’s just not worth it. You can find award charts on most airlines website or by simply searching for that airlines award chart on google. Award chart’s will also tell you how much you will spend on taxes for a specific flight. Yes there are still expenses but not many. (Business and First class taxes are higher than economy, sometimes over $100)
Picture by: Points and Crew
Last but not least, let’s talk about when to use points and when not to use points. Let’s start with an easy one. If you can get a round trip to Europe for $470 or redeem for a point value of 43,000 points with taxes and fees totaling $502 it’s pretty obvious which one you’d select. You don’t want to spend the points on a flight that you could get at a much cheaper price. Let’s take a look at CPP or cent’s per point. Generally I look to get at least $1.00 or more. So the way to calculate this is really easy. My flight to London cost me $440 USD, so we’ll take that and multiply by 100 to get the cents value which is 44,000. Next we’ll divide by the number of points the booking cost. That will give you your CPP value. I didn’t check at the time of booking so let’s just say it was 50,000 points. That would net you 0.88 CPP which isn’t to bad. As I said I like to get at least $1.00 on my award bookings but sometimes make an exception. Make sure you always count the taxes and fees into the price as well to get an accurate CPP value.