Do This Before Applying for Rewards Credit Cards
January 24, 2018
Are you thinking of applying for a rewards credit card soon? Do you keep reading about other people going on incredible journeys to exotic destinations for free and you want in on the action? Reward travel can be a great thing for your family, however, there are certain steps you should take before signing up for any card. Do these things before you take the next step of filling out credit card applications.
Make Sure Everyone is On Board
In order to be successful at the credit card rewards game, both you and your spouse need to be on board. I doesn’t take long into a marriage to figure out that things don’t go well when both partners have different ideas, agendas, and goals, especially when you are talking about money. Sit down and talk it out. Should you start slow? What’s too much? What are your travel goals for the upcoming year? Why do we want to start earning travel rewards? Don’t force your spouse into getting credit cards just because you think it’s a good idea. Explain your point of view, listen to theirs, and make a decision together. You’ll find that the more you talk about it and plan, the more exciting the thought of free travel becomes.
Have a Plan
Don’t just sign up for a card (or 5 cards) just because they are giving away tons of miles or points. Have a plan of attack. Know what kind of points or miles you need for the upcoming year and find the card or cards that are the right fit. There are always good deals out there, but that doesn’t mean you have to sign up for any or all of them. Be smart. Have a plan.
Write it Down
One thing I always do when signing up for a credit card is I gather as much information as possible about the card. How many points will I earn? What is the spending requirement and how long do I have to hit it? What date did I sign up for the card? What date was I approved? Nine months from now you will be trying to remember when your annual fee is coming and you won’t remember. Trust me. It is very easy to lose track of information like this so taking care of business on the front end is crucial. File your information somewhere you will remember or create a simple spreadsheet for tracking your credit card sign ups. We have done this and it’s been invaluable to us on our journey to free travel rewards.
Analyze Spending Requirements
One thing that is helpful up front is to figure out what spending you will do in order to hit a credit card’s spending requirements. If you research online ways to hit spending requirements, you will come across a myriad of ideas, some better than the others. For us, we keep things simple right now. We’ve found that just by using our card for weekly grocery shopping as well as for monthly bills that allow credit card payment, we usually have no problem hitting any requirements. Last year we had a large home improvement project and had the cash already to pay for it. Instead, we asked if they took credit card payments (they did). We were able to meet spending requirements for 3 cards with this one project alone. It earned our family free flights as well as several free nights at hotels on trips, all because we added the step of paying for the project on a credit card first and then paying those off with money we already had saved.
Earning travel rewards isn’t too difficult to figure out, but it’s also easy to lose track if you aren’t careful. Have a plan that everyone likes, track everything, and make sure you can hit your spending requirements. Spend and then watch the rewards pile up! Free travel will be coming your way soon enough.
How do you track your rewards credit cards and spending? Let us know in the comments below!
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Kevin Payne is the co-founder and budgeting and family travel enthusiast behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com.
Kevin is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and travel. He is a regular contributor to Forbes Advisor, MoneyGeek, CreditCards.com, Credit Karma, Money Under 30, and Student Loan Planner.