Is Miles Chasing Right for Me? is Part 2 of 4 in the Just Carrying On Miles and Points Beginner’s Guide, an introduction to the world of earning and using miles and points to help you travel the world and spend less money doing it. This Beginner’s Guide is meant to be short and sweet. It isn’t comprehensive. But throughout the guide I will point you to additional resources if you’d like to dive deeper. To read the rest of the Miles and Points Beginner’s Guide, follow the links below:
- Part 1 – Earning Miles and Points with Credit Cards
- Part 2 – Is Miles Chasing Right for Me?
- Part 3 – Leveraging Redemptions for the Best Value
- Part 4 – Coming Out On Top
Part 2 – Is Miles Chasing Right for Me?
The miles and points hobby isn’t for everyone, but I believe more people can take advantage of the opportunity than currently do. The question is to what scale? The spectrum of miles and points chasing is enormous. You might decide you only want to sign up for one new credit card a year to help make an annual vacation more affordable. Someone else might decide to jump in with both feet, earning millions of miles for a trip around the world, like we did. We will explore several factors you should consider as you find the right scale to meet your travel needs.
How much do you travel?
If you are someone who travels infrequently, perhaps you participate in this hobby on a small scale. Your goal might be to redeem miles or points for two domestic plane tickets per year. That’s great! You can easily earn enough points to travel for free. If you travel internationally multiple times per year you too can travel for free with miles and points. But you will need to invest more time and energy into the hobby. Note: when I use the word free, know that all airlines charge fees to redeem award tickets, some more than others. Hotels usually do not.
How organized are you?
This is an important consideration I don’t see others write about much. Chasing miles and points aggressively takes organization and discipline—and a spreadsheet. To earn credit card bonuses you need to meet minimum spending requirements (put x dollars on the card within x number of months), pay off your credit card balances every month on time, track the miles you earn so they don’t expire, and cancel cards before the annual fees trigger the following year. If you tend to forget to pay the bills you already have, think twice before participating in this hobby.
What is your financial situation?
If you’re currently in credit card debt, this hobby is not for you, at least not right now. A cornerstone of coming out on top is paying off your credit cards every month and avoiding fees. Otherwise the benefits you gain can be more than offset by the fees. Conversely, if your credit score is healthy, you’re good with budgets, and maybe you even consider yourself frugal, keep reading!
How much do you enjoy a good deal?
If you’ve read this far, you probably do. And that’s great, because deals (some of significant value) are certainly there to be had. I like to consider miles and points chasing my form of coupon-ing, the practice my mother taught me when I was growing up. We used to cut out coupons from the newspaper to save money on the grocery bill. I’ve simply replaced the groceries with travel. It was fun to save money back then and it is still fun now. On the flip side, if you feel embarrassed to use a coupon or hate asking for the waiter to correct your bill when they accidentally overcharge you, perhaps miles and points isn’t for you. Ultimately, hobbies are supposed to be fun.
To continue reading, check out Part 3 – Leveraging Redemptions for the Best Value
Leave your comments about your own reflections on joining the miles and points hobby