Welcome to 2022 Basic Travelers! 2021 sure was a whirling dervish of opportunities in the award travel hobby. We saw some of the largest offers to date and many folks utilized those rewards for bucket-list experiences around the world. Going into the new year on the right foot can make all of the difference and save many headaches down the road. Learn what I do to maximize my time and earnings below!
Tracking & Organization
This is my top and most important factor in the points & miles hobby!
- How long do I have to meet a spending requirement on a new credit card?
- What is the amount of the spend?
- Do I qualify for this particular card based on 5/24?
- Is there another bank rule that makes me ineligible?
- When did I last have this card open?
- How many points & miles am I suppose to earn?
All of these questions can lead to major headaches, I know I’ve had my fair share of them over the years. The answer is a simple excel or google sheet that includes all of this information for tracking purposes. I’d also suggest setting calendar alerts when getting close to those important dates, for example when an annual fee is going to be applied or when the final date for earning a welcome offer is.
Make a Plan
What is your goal? To earn more cashback or perhaps to fly first class to the Maldives. Whatever it may be, it’s important to go into this year with some solid goals and a plan to get there. Using the same spreadsheet system mentioned above, I list out at the bottom my potential plan for new cards and checking accounts in the future. Given that many credit cards and bank account bonuses limit the frequency to which a bonus can be earned – it’s simple enough to forecast the number of days until becoming eligible.
For example, I just received a checking account bonus offer in the mail yesterday for $600. Taking a look at my spreadsheet, I closed my last account with that bank back in August of 2021 and the eligibility is six months. Based on that research, I have to wait until mid-February to be eligible for this offer.
It can be tricky to figure out what to do first or what card to use when. At the beginning of the year and every month thereafter I review the various offers I have across all of my accounts. Some examples of this include:
- New Credit Card welcome offers
- Spending towards free hotel night certificates
- Quarterly 5%/5X spending opportunities
- Monthly Uber and dining credits
- Dell, Saks, and other annual credits
- Monthly purchase requirements (Like T-Mobile Money requiring 10 debit purchases each month to earn 3% on balances up to $3,000)
Many Airline, Hotel, and Casino elite statuses reset at the beginning of the new year. Now is a great time to reflect on which ones are worth it and which ones to go for in 2022. I know that I’ll be prioritizing Hyatt’s globalist again this year as we have an awesome experience with it last year. Don’t forget to complete all of the Status Matches in the Merry-go-round. Although, at the time of writing this, Wyndham Diamond has not expired which is technically the first step of the merry-go-round.
Is it all worth it?
Without a doubt this hobby is life-changing. I’ll provide two examples that I’m most proud of in 2021. First, I was able to accomplish a once-in-a-lifetime seven-week honeymoon this past summer that included 13 countries. This trip should have cost over $70,000. Instead, I used points and miles to cover the whole thing! Secondly, I earned $3,607.50 from trying out new checking & savings accounts in 2021. That’s a nice chunk of change that I used towards my travel fund for food and excursions.
Do you do any special to start off the new year on the right foot in this hobby?
I’d love to hear in the comments below or over in our 7,300+ Member Basic Travel Facebook Group!
More Basic Reading
- Top Credit Cards of the Month
- Learn how to utilize credit card points with our Basic Travel Course
- How to book an Overwater Bungalow at the Conrad Maldives for cheap!
- Seven Steps to utilize credit card reward points to Save Money
- 16 Side Hustles that can Qualify for a Small Business Credit Card
- Step-by-Step Guide to Completing a Small Business Credit Card Application