The Basics of Miles & Points

          I redeem hundreds of thousands of points each year since 2011.  Those points came almost exclusively through credit card sign up bonuses, getting bonuses for focused spending on those credit cards (sometimes manufacturing a spend), and spending through online portals which double/triple/quadruple my points per dollar.  Your future of travel and possibilities of adventure is about to get better and a whole lot more affordable.  The average family does not travel or at least does not travel far and extensively because of their budget.  I understand the pressures of life and the need to make every penny count.  This is another reason to keep focused on gaining and maintaining an EXCELLENT Credit Score. 
          The THREE things that are extremely HELPFUL to accumulate MEGA miles/points to have free hotel stays like this picture of our room in Venice, Italy, are: 1. A good to excellent credit score and 2. The knowledge of how to gather the correct points. (the do's and don'ts of requesting credit cards) and 3. How to maximize them within your vacation plans.  However, even with a "fair" credit report you can receive sizable bonuses.  One of my friends recently requested 5 credit cards, 2 he was denied for and 3 accepted him.  His credit score was between 650-675 with past negative delinquencies (but has paid on-time for past 12-14 months).  Those bonuses included $200 worth of Chase Ultimate Reward points, $300 worth of Citibank Thank You points, and ~$440 worth from Barclay Arrival miles...not bad. 
          Add to your knowledge how to create, rebuild, and/or maintain an excellent credit score. Just as important you need to know when and how to apply for the best bonuses. For instance, just knowing that the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards card offers a 50,000 point bonus 3 to 4 times a year will help you avoid applying for the usual 25,000 point offer. 
What must I do to start gathering points/miles if my credit score is good/excellent?
Before gathering points/miles there are few things that will really help if you want to be ready before applying for credit.

1. Get a new email address for all your points/miles programs that you will sign up for.  This will help keep your regular email from being flooded with offers/points updates.  

2. Sign up for as many points/miles programs as you are interested in and save those numbers (in a file) for reference and logging in purposes.  This includes Airlines, such as, American Airlines, Delta, Southwest, Alaska Airlines, and United.  Note: You do not need to sign up for all the partners in their alliances because often you just gather the points/miles on the main one you would use.  Do not forget hotels, such as, Hilton, SPG, and Hyatt.
3. Sign up for AwardWallet if you want a simple way to see all your points in one place as they update regularly.  Setting up each account might take a little time, but once it's done it will automatically monitor your reward programs for changes and expirations.  They estimate 20% of miles/points go unused or expire.  Keeping track of your points/miles will help.   You might think you will not have enough to worry about, give it a few months or a year and if you do this right you'll have more than you can remember in one sitting.  The basic membership is free, but the Plus costs $10 for 6 months.  However, if you invite 5 people and they join AwardWallet, then you are upgraded for free.  Clink on my link above and I will get a referral to help keep mine free, thank you for your help.  
Picture this, you at the Vatican in Rome, the 3rd most visited city in the world after London and Paris.  All three cities are bucket list items for most travelers.  These cities, especially London, can be expensive for USA citizens because of the exchange rates for dollars, euros, and pounds.  If you can get your hotel and flight almost free, then you feel much better about enjoying these cities attractions.  
View from the Colosseum, behind us is the Roman forum, which has many of the ancient ruins that need an audio guide, book guide, or personal guide to really appreciate the history of within those stones. To the right is a picture from the forum looking back at the Colosseum.  
This video will tell you the basics of staying at Hilton Hotels using their Gold Status upgrades and points to do it for free.  I have enjoyed this hotel for free almost every year and invited my other siblings and their families for free too! 

This is how credit scores are evaluated, so remember to focus on these aspects and improve your score.  NOTE: Applying for new credit only effects your score 10% of your total. 
Your discipline and knowledge will lead you to views like this with tips to skip lines, I show in another video how to "skip the lines" at the Colosseum in Rome. 
Took this picture on the island of Curacao after we went there on a whim using using American Express Membership points, Chase Ultimate Reward points and the Citi Hilton Reserve card for Hilton Gold Status.