How Do I Use Points And Miles from a Rewards Credit Card?

Jul 27, 2014

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I received our “super-newbie question of the week” from TPG reader Jessica, via Facebook:

“I’m interested in getting a credit card for miles and points, but I’m not sure which one to choose. My main question is, how do you use the miles and points? Do they automatically come off your account when you pay, or do you have to call in?”

Naturally, Jessica is having a hard time choosing a miles and/or points earning credit card – there are a lot of choices out there! Take a look at our post on The Top 5 Credit Cards for Travel Rewards, which should help narrow the field.

Finding and using your miles and points is far easier. Once you choose, apply for, and get a credit card – such as the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard, which has a current sign-up bonus of 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership – and you hit your minimum spend (in this case, that $3,000), those miles will automatically show up in your American Airlines AAdvantage frequent flyer account. 

Be aware that when you get any co-branded credit card, if you don’t already have an account with that loyalty program, an account will be created for you. You’re the sole owner of that account, and the miles and points you earn through your credit card belong to you. Even down the line, if you choose to close a loyalty program’s credit card, the account, miles and points will still be yours to keep.

Once you choose a travel rewards credit card, finding and using your points and miles is the easy part.
Once you choose a travel rewards credit card, finding and using your points and miles is the easy part.

It’s a little trickier when you get bank credit cards from Chase and American Express, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (which earns Ultimate Rewards points) or the The Platinum Card® from American Express (which earns Membership Rewards). If you close these types of credit cards, you lose access to the points you earned, because they sit in central Chase and American Express accounts. The best course of action before closing out these cards, then, is to either transfer the points to a new credit card, or simply redeem them.

In general, it’s easy to use your points and miles from a credit card, as they go directly into an account that you can access – the key is learning how to leverage your points and miles once you have them. I welcome you to The Points Guy, and encourage you to read our Beginner’s Guide. Before you know it, you’re going to be a points and miles ninja like the rest of us!

If you have other questions, feel free to tweet me at @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook, or send me an email at 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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