Collecting travel points and miles on your own can be rewarding. However, you can potentially double your earning power — and opportunities to get cheaper hotel rooms and flights — by entering two-player mode.
Whether you’re just getting started or trying to level up your strategy, here are seven tips for how couples can work together to earn points and miles.
1. Set goals from the start
If you’re reading this, odds are that you’re more excited about points and miles than your spouse. If that’s the case, don’t start by handing them a stack of credit cards with instructions on which card to use and where. Instead, start by talking with your partner about your shared travel goals.
It could be planning a family vacation together, taking that Instagram-worthy anniversary trip or simply traveling to see friends without breaking the bank. Once you can show them how points and miles can help you achieve your goals, working toward them together is much easier.
2. Keep it simple for inexperienced partners
Does your partner wince at the idea of juggling a bunch of credit cards? If you want their buy-in, make it as simple as possible to start and then ramp up from there.
For your first credit card, get a travel credit card that earns rewards on everyday spending, too. Look for cards that offer bonuses for common categories such as restaurants, gas or groceries. A card that earns transferable points (points you can transfer to airline or hotel partners) often offers the most flexibility.
3. Get out of credit card debt
While this may seem obvious, it’s often glossed over in discussions of earning rewards. The first step to any points and miles strategy is to pay off outstanding credit card debt.
Even if you don’t combine finances, talk honestly about your financial situation with your partner. A recent NerdWallet survey conducted by The Harris Poll found that 34% of married Americans with credit card debt say their partners don’t know how much they owe on their cards. If you want to collaborate on a points-and-mile-earning strategy, you need to break the silence.
If either of you is carrying a credit card balance, now’s probably not the time to explore rewards credit cards. Instead, develop a plan to pay off your outstanding balances first. Then focus on rewards cards.
4. Celebrate an early win
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of taking a nearly free trip. Keep your motivation going by booking a trip early in your points and miles journey.
“Sometimes you just need to take your first flight and experience the benefits of earning credit card points yourself, rather than reading or listening about them secondhand,” recommends Brighton Lui and Mila Temnyalova of the @themilescouple on Instagram.
This may not be the trip of your dreams quite yet. However, even a short trip can confirm that the hassle is worth it. Just make sure that this trip won’t hold you back from your larger goals.
5. Be deliberate about when you add authorized user cards
Don’t automatically add your spouse as an authorized user when you apply for a new card. It may make them ineligible to open new cards if they’ve already opened several new cards over the past two years.
Instead, carefully consider when you should add an authorized user — whether that’s to meet the spending requirement for a bonus or for the perks.
If you and your partner will have no problem meeting the spending requirement, a better option is to use your personal referral code to refer your spouse. You’ll receive bonus points for the referral and your spouse will be able to earn the sign-up bonus separately, doubling the amount of points you’ll have in that program.
6. Focus on earning points that either partner can use
Airline and hotel rewards credit cards can offer lucrative bonuses and cardholder perks. However, hotel points and airline miles generally can’t be transferred to another member — at least without prohibitively expensive fees.
Meanwhile, most credit card rewards programs (e.g., AmEx Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards®) let you transfer credit card points from the primary cardholder to authorized users or another cardholder in the same household. This gives you more flexibility when it comes time to redeem your points and miles.
7. Align with existing perks and elite status
Lean into existing strengths when deciding which partner should hold which card. Say you often fly Delta for work travel. Consider getting a Delta co-branded card that you can use to earn bonus elite miles and earn a spending waiver toward Delta elite status.
Meanwhile, your partner could get a credit card that grants hotel elite status.
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