Most Common Miles & Points Mistakes

Earning miles and points and navigating it as a hobby can be tricky, difficult, frustrating, and sometimes confusing. As is the case with nearly anything else, it is possible, and even common, to make mistakes. The important thing about mistakes is to be are you made one and learn from it so you don’t repeat it again. But wouldn’t it be better to not make a mistake in the first place? Of course! Here are the most common mistakes I see people making most often.

Mistake #1: Applying for a Credit Card Just Because You Want to

I know how tempting it is to want to apply for a few cards at one time, or when the sign up bonus increases, or when a new card comes out. The FOMO is real. Trust me! Everyone experiences it. But it isn’t always a good idea to apply for a credit card you have your eyes on. I’m sure you’re probably wondering why that is if it’s a card you want. The gist of it is that the points or rewards you get might not be valuable to you, or worse, not valuable at all.

30,000 points seems like a decent amount, but you’ll find it hard to find a room for that many points

How to Avoid this Mistake

Have a plan, or at least  an idea, for what you’re doing to use the points for before you earn them. This includes when you see yourself using them and traveling. If your timeframe is over a year based on the redemption and/or redemption value today, it will likely be unreachable in a year. Points are not an investment that gains value over time – if anything they lose value. If you’re unfamiliar with the points, how to redeem them, or what to redeem them for, do some research or ask someone.

Mistake #2: Not Earning Miles & Points

This isn’t about not applying for a credit card to earn more points. It is about earning miles & points through more traditional methods (flying and staying at a hotel). There are two reasons people make the mistake of not earning miles & points at all: they don’t want to spend more money to earn miles and points or they don’t think they will ever fly that particular airline or stay at the hotel again.

How to Avoid this Mistake

There are two easy ways to avoid this mistake. Always sign up for the loyalty program of the airline you’re flying (or their partners), or the hotel chain you’re staying at. That alone is free, and it shouldn’t cost you anything extra to earn the points. If it seems like it will cost you more, then something fishy is going on and you probably should rethink booking it. Make sure your membership number is in your itinerary before you fly or your hotel folio before you check out. This should be very easy – most of the time you just have to be logged in when you complete the reservation. This way the points should automatically post to your account and you don’t have to chase them down. 

Dropdown with list of airlines that are partners with United Airlines

If you think you’ll never fly the particular airline or stay at a hotel again, think again. Airlines have a dozen or more partners, and there are multiple brands within a hotel chain. No one knows what the future holds. Your travel plans may change. The point here (no pun intended) is that you might as well earn miles & points wherever/whenever you can.

Mistake #4: Not Wanting to Pay Annual Fees

Annual fees are part of the reality with rewards earning credit cards. Not all of them have one, and not all cards that have an annual fee are worth it. Don’t completely avoid cards that have an annual fee. Some are worth it and you would be potentially missing out on some amazing benefits.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Some annual fees are completely worth it. I happily pay the annual fee on most of the cards I have that have an annual fee. If a card has an annual fee, look at the points and benefits it offers. Figure out what value they have to you. Also, make sure you’ll be able to use the benefits that give you value. If the value is at least equal to the annual fee, then it makes sense to be okay with paying the fee. For example, the Chase World of Hyatt credit card comes with a free night at a category 1-4 hotel. The card has a $95 annual fee, but the free night may save you well over $100. 

Benefits CAN outweigh Annual Fees

Don’t shy away from fees, but make sure you continue to get the value each year. I recommend at least once a year, reevaluate your credit cards that have annual fees and make sure that they are still worth paying the annual fee. If you think it isn’t, call the issuing bank and say you’re thinking of canceling it. They may offer you a bonus to keep the cards. This is very similar to calling your cable company and threatening to leave so they offer you a lower rate.

Mistake #5: Applying for a Credit Card without a Referral

If you go directly to a bank’s website and apply for a credit card, you may be doing a disservice to the people you know. They may have a referral or affiliate link that you can use. Affiliate or referral links will typically have the same, if not better, sign up bonus as the offer you’d get by going directly to the issuer. By using someone’s link, they’ll get a bonus too.

How to Avoid this Mistake

Ask your friends, family, or your favorite blogger (hopefully that’s me), if they have a referral link. As I said above, the offer should be just as good but make sure that all aspects of the offer are good or better than if you went directly to the issuer’s website. Since they’ll get a bonus too, they’ll scratch your back if you scratch theirs. 

I have access to links to nearly any credit card you may be interested in. If you don’t have a friend or family member that can refer you, ask me for a link. I promise that I will let you know if the offer with one of my links isn’t as good as another offer you have access to. 

This isn’t necessarily just for credit cards. Most websites, particularly shopping portals, have a referral program or something similar.

Hopefully, you learned something from this article. Avoiding a mistake is likely cheaper than making a mistake. Try to remember that everyone makes a mistake and none of these are detrimental (except maybe not paying the bill in full). As the late Bob Ross said, “there are no mistakes, just happy accidents.” Don’t kick yourself too hard if you have a happy accident – just try to learn from it so you don’t do it again.

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