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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard

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 (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 info@thepointsguy.com. 

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

The Points Guy Assessment:

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great pick for the beginner and the frequent traveler. The CSP has superb travel benefits, double points on certain purchases, and a 50,000 point sign up bonus. The $95 annual fee is waived the first year so this puts it as one of the less expensive cards, while still allowing you to earn one of the most valuable point currencies.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.74% - 24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.