|Money can't buy the thrill of the steal|
Then I started planning a long term trip. I knew I'd fly some long distances, and concluded airfare would be the largest single expense. That's when I started looking into points programs, and it was a quick hop to credit card rewards programs.
Just so we're all on the same page, these rewards program typically give you points for spending money on the associated credit card. The number of points per dollar spent depends on what and where you're buying. These points can then be redeemed for cash (1 point = $0.01) or spent on rewards, such as gift cards and electronics. For some credit cards, though, you're able to transfer those points directly to a frequent flyer airline program and redeem award tickets.
The reason you would opt for the transfer (and not just cash) is that points can end up being worth more than $0.01 upon redemption, particularly if you book international premium tickets. So while not necessary, I would definitely not turn down a first class flight across an ocean.
So how does the game work? I simply make all purchases through a specific credit card and earn points. There are also additional services, such as dining programs, that can earn additional points. Plus, the first time sign up bonuses can easily fund an entire ticket, but these require planning. I'll go into the strategy I've planned to earn my future airfare in a future post. For now, I'll finish with the most important rule of this game:
Pay off your balance every month!