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I love points and miles because it has allowed me and my husband to travel the world without paying full price. We’ve stayed at all inclusive resorts and booked business-class flights all for a fraction of the cost.

Points and miles can save you thousands of dollars on travel which is why there have been so many myths about the various techniques that people use to earn them. In turn, this can cause many people to miss out on all the amazing travel opportunities available!

Travel is not reserved for the wealthy or frequent business traveler. You deserve to make this investment in yourself through travel. Let’s debunk those myths!

Myth: Travel Rewards Credit Cards are the only option

While travel rewards credit cards are an excellent tool for earning rewards, they’re not the only option. There are many other ways to earn travel rewards. You’ve got loyalty programs, shopping portals, travel rewards apps, dining programs, and more!

I wrote about this in my post 7 strategies that don’t require credit cards.

Yes, travel rewards credit cards can be a fantastic way to quickly earn rewards. However, if you’re not ready to dive in and apply for new credit cards, that’s ok! There are plenty of other ways to start earning rewards and redeem them for meaningful travel experiences.

Before choosing a rewards strategy, think about your travel goals, travel style, spending habits, and preferred travel partners.

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Myth: Points and Miles with credit cards is unethical or illegal

Points and Miles with credit cards is the technique of maximizing loyalty programs to the fullest. It doesn’t go against the terms and conditions of these loyalty programs.

Loyalty programs are designed to incentivize customers to remain loyal to a particular airline, hotel, rental car company etc. and these programs are often very profitable for them. By offering rewards and perks to loyal customers, these programs encourage repeat business and foster customer loyalty. And loyalty is a powerful thing. They want you to take advantage of these programs.

The thing is, they know that most people won’t.

With that being said, there are always going to be some practices that can be unethical. That’s with anything, but most people follow the rules and use legitimate strategies to earn rewards and save money on travel.

If you are found to be breaking the rules or engaging in unethical practices this not only undermines the integrity of this practice, but can also result in negative consequences such as account closure, loss of rewards, or legal repercussions.

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide what strategies you’re comfortable with. But if you follow and read information from legitimate sources, points and miles with credit cards can be a great way to save money on travel!

A paper credit card application form on a wooden table, with options for different rewards highlighted, representing financial decisions in banking

Myth: It is risky and can harm your credit score

This misconception comes from opening new credit card accounts, which can temporarily lower your credit score. The keyword here is temporary.

But it’s also because people just don’t understand how credit scores work.

In reality, opening new credit cards alone will not harm your credit score in the long run. It can actually improve it. Credit scores are based on a variety of factors, including your payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, and new credit inquiries.

By using credit cards responsibly and paying your bills in full and on time, you can demonstrate to credit bureaus that you’re a responsible borrower and this can improve your credit score.

How it can improve your credit score:

  • Lower your credit utilization ratio – By opening multiple credit cards and increasing your available credit, you can lower your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of your available credit that you’re currently using. A lower credit utilization ratio can positively impact your credit score.
  • Diversify your credit mix – Credit mix refers to the variety of credit accounts that you have, including credit cards, loans, and lines of credit. By opening new credit cards and using them responsibly, you can demonstrate to lenders that you’re capable of managing multiple types of credit accounts, which can positively impact your credit score.
  • Demonstrates responsible credit management: As long as you use your credit cards responsibly and make your payments on time, having multiple credit cards can demonstrate to lenders that you are capable of managing credit responsibly. This can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Remember, it’s important to use credit cards responsibly and pay your bills on time in order to avoid negative impacts on your credit score. But when used responsibly, credit cards can actually benefit your credit score and help you save money on travel at the same time.

To help you get a handle on your credit score download and use free apps like Credit Karma or Experian Boost.

Myth: It is only for frequent travelers

Another myth is that people feel that they don’t travel enough to take advantage of these strategies. But that’s just baloney!

While frequent travelers can certainly benefit it’s a strategy that can be used by anyone who wants to save money on travel.

Many of those who are successful are occasional travelers or those who only travel once or twice a year. Credit card welcome bonuses can provide a significant boost to your rewards balance, even if you don’t use the card for everyday spending.

By signing up for a credit card with a large welcome bonus and using it to pay for your travel expenses, you can earn enough rewards to offset major costs of your trip without being a frequent traveler.

We earned enough points to stay at a luxury Hilton in Arizona for 7 nights for $0 without having even stayed in any Hilton Hotels for months. You can also earn enought mile to get almost free flights without even having to set foot on an airplane.

restaurant patron inserted their credit card into a portable credit card reader being held by the waiter.

Myth: It requires a lot of time and effort

Ok, can we all agree that anything worth while is going to take some time and effort? You’ll be hard pressed to find a hobby that can bring as much joy as traveling, that doesn’t require a lot of time and effort.

And once you start seeing the world and experiencing new cultures, all that effort will be totally worth it. What makes this a myth, is that if you don’t want to put in a lot of time and effort, you don’t have to.

The good news is that there are plenty of easy and straightforward strategies you can use to start earning rewards. For example, signing up for loyalty programs or clicking through a shopping portal can take just a few minutes of your time and can earn you valuable points or miles.

But the truth is, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. If you’re only interested in opening one credit card to snag the welcome bonus and then never looking at travel rewards credit cards again, that’s totally fine. It’s not a competition, and everyone’s travel goals and strategies are different.

You don’t need to become a points and miles mastermind and spend hours researching the best deals or stacking different rewards programs to maximize your savings. In fact, taking a more laid-back approach can be just as effective.

As long as you’re saving money on travel and having fun while doing it, that’s all that really matters. So go ahead and enjoy the journey, one reward point at a time!

Check out my post about apps you should download today so that you can keep organized and be less overwhelmed.

Myth: Travel rewards points always expire quickly

Yes, some programs have strict expiration policies that require you to use your rewards within a certain timeframe, but that’s why I love flexible points currencies like travel credit card rewards.

If you have a travel credit card with flexible points like Capital One Venture Miles, Citi ThankYou Points or Chase Ultimate Rewards which can be transferred to travel partners then you never have to worry about your points expiring for as long as you hold the credit card.

Some hotel and airline loyalty programs may offer points or miles that don’t expire as long as there is activity on the account within a certain timeframe, such as earning or redeeming rewards. If you have a co-branded airline or hotel credit card, making sure you have a some spend on those cards may be enough to keep your account active and your points from expiring.

Of course, make sure you read the terms and conditions for each program carefully to understand their expiration policies and requirements.

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Myth: It’s impossible to find award availability

It’s not impossible to find award availablity, but the key is to be flexible. If you’re flexible then you’ll be able to find a good amount of award availability if you look far enough in advance.

To increase your odds of find award availability, it’s best to plan ahead and book early. Many travel rewards programs release award availability up to a year in advance, so booking early can give you the best chance of finding the availability you need.

So, if you’re thinking about planning a fun summer vacation with your kids, it’s never too early to start planning ahead. In fact, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your travel plans at least a year in advance, especially if you want to make the most of your rewards.

One of the great things about award redemptions is that they’re usually pretty flexible and come with little or no penalty for cancellations or changes to your plans. So don’t be afraid to start booking early.

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Myth: It is only for international travel

While it’s true that many tend to focus on international flights and luxurious hotels (just look at Instagram) to get the most value out of their rewards, it’s important to remember that there are still plenty of ways to save and find value when it comes to redeeming rewards for domestic travel.

So don’t be discouraged if you’re not quite ready to take that big international trip just yet. There’s still plenty of adventure to be had closer to home, and you can still make your rewards work for you no matter where you choose to travel.

Final Thoughts

Understandably, you may want to have all the information before you dive into the world of earning points and miles with credit cards. However, don’t let these myths stand in the way of the almost free travel that you deserve!

Educate yourself and get the facts. I’ve spent years doing research and practicing these techniques so that you don’t have to. If you’re ready to learn more grab my Free Budget Travel 101 course and let’s get you traveling more for less!

Want to Travel More for Less?

Become a Budget Traveler! Head over to my start here page and grab my free budget travel cheat sheet  – it’s packed with valuable tips to help you create your own winning budget travel strategy.

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