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How to maximize your travel points and miles | Travel Smart

Zach Griff from The Points Guy gives advice on how to get the most out of your travel rewards.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Many frequent travelers were not able to acquire or use their existing points last year due to the pandemic, so now may be a good time to reevaluate where you accumulate your points and miles. 

Experts say to maximize your travel benefits, it may make more sense to use a bank credit card that’s not affiliated with an airline or hotel chain. 

“So as people are starting to think about replenishing points, it’s important to take a look at your stash of cards and what you have in your wallet and make sure that you are earning points that are the most valuable for your redemptions,” Griff said.  

Zach Griff from The Points Guy recommends using a bank credit card rather than an airline credit card to build up flexible points. These points can be used for either a hotel stay or airfare. 

“You swipe your credit card, you earn your points, and then when it comes down to it, three months, six months, a year down the line, when you’re ready to redeem, you just send them directly from the credit card to the airline or hotel of your choosing,” Griff said.  

Many credit card companies are offering pandemic-era point bonuses to sign-up for their card. Some are offering as high as 100,000 points to sign-up. 

For frequent flyers wondering if your points are going to expire due to inactivity, you’re in luck. 

“Most points whether it’s an airline, hotel, credit card points, they actually don’t expire," Griff said. "In America, of the four largest airlines, we have American, Southwest, United, and Delta so the only airline there that has points that expire is American but they have paused all the expiration of points through the end of the year." 

Even though most do not expire, you do not want to keep them forever at risk of an airline or hotel devaluing them. If you’re worried your American Airlines points may expire after this year, Griff says there are a few things you can do to keep them active. 

First, join a dining rewards network. 

“Airlines and hotels have partnerships with different restaurant programs where you can join their loyalty program and as part of making a reservation through that program and then going to dine out, you’ll earn 1,000 or 1,500 miles for that meal that you ate,” Griff said.  

Second, do some online shopping. 

“All the major airlines have shopping portals and you just have to click through the airline website and you’ll be able to earn some points on that transaction,” Griff said. 

Finally, donate points. 

“You can donate points starting at about 1,000 with American Airlines and that will reset your counter for another 18 months,” Griff said. 

If you're new to the points and miles world, it is important to do your research on what the best credit card is for you and how you should redeem those points. 

To determine which credit card is the right one for you, check out The Points Guy for more information.

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