You can still rack up points without signing up for a credit card. The important part is to not put it off until you are ready to travel somewhere. It is best to start racking up points before you are ready to use them 🙂
The first step in racking up points by simply “spending money” is to choose one hotel and one airline that you plan to use your points on. If you earn small amounts spread across multiple loyalty accounts you likely won’t ever earn enough for redemption.
I recommend these hotels for their loyalty programs:
I recommend these airlines for their loyalty programs:
Okay, so you have landed on ONE loyalty program. Let’s discuss how to rack up some points. The simple way would be to stay a bunch of times at the hotel or fly a ton on one airline. Since you may not have a reason to stay or fly (like business) let’s talk about other ways to rack up some points.
You probably purchase things? Online? (maybe too often). You can earn points by shopping on the hotel or airlines’ “shopping portals”. There are 1,000’s of online stores that participate in these loyalty programs, but keep in mind that the amount you earn will vary greatly between stores. Best Buy may give you 2 points per dollar spent on Southwest but only 1 point per dollar spent on Delta. Fortunately there is a site that compiles this data for you!
The place to find what each store offers in each loyalty program check out cashbackmonitor.com. This site allows you to see store by category and also links you directly to each shopping portal. They key here is to try to be flexible with where you make your purchases so you can rack up as many points as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your friends to make their big purchases through your shopping portal. If you know they are going to buy a big flat screen for the NFL season, why not score some free points?
Let’s look at some examples in Cash Back Monitor:
You may have some back to school shopping to do, why not earn free points? If you are going to spend $175 per kid for school clothes, you have three kids, that is $525. Well, Kohl’s is offering 4 points per dollar via Southwest Airlines. If you spent $525 at Kohl’s online (remember, you can always exchange in person) you would earn 2,100 Southwest Airlines points. There is a secondary promotion for 1,500 points if you spend over $500 in the Southwest Shopping Portal. That means you will 3,600 points. Flights start as few as 1,900 points to get a FREE one-way flight on Southwest. Southwest points are worth about 1.5 cents each. So that makes the 3,600 points you would earn worth $54 in flights. Not bad for something you have to do regardless.
Earn the additional 1,500 points.
Let’s look at another scenario:
Planing on buying new furniture in the future? Southwest and Ashley Furniture will give you 15 points per dollar spent at Ashley.com. If you were going to purchase a $700 couch that would net you 10,500 Southwest points! Those points are worth $158 in flights. that is a really good return on $700. You should also be able to qualify for the additional 1,500 points even though it says it is only for “school shopping”. It appears there are no stipulations on what you buy, just that you shop before August 15th. So you could earn yourself a total of 12,000 points. That will get you a free round-trip if you stay on the west coast.
You can fly San Diego to Seattle for only 9,754, you would earn more than that for buying a couch!