10 tips for making award travel a multiplayer game
Many of us in the points and miles world love the thrill of earning and burning our rewards. However, our partners and spouses may not share the same thrill of the hunt as we do. While our "player twos" probably won't get as involved as we are, there are still plenty of simple ways to get them involved to maximize your rewards.
Let's take a look at a handful of ways you and your partner can make the most of award travel together.
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Make it easy for them to participate
One reason why player twos don't want to get involved is that earning and redeeming rewards can be complex — especially if you constantly try to maximize each bonus category.
They don't have to memorize reward charts or the bonus categories of each credit card to participate, though. You can start them off by giving them one all-purpose credit card that earns more than 1 point per dollar on all purchases, like the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited. Of course, they won't maximize bonus categories on every purchase, but they will earn points that contribute to the household's reward balances.
Alternatively, you can label each card with a label maker. For example, you can put a label for "Groceries" and "Dining" on your shared American Express® Gold Card and "Travel" on your Chase Sapphire Reserve, as these cards earn bonus points in those categories. Of course, this is more complicated than one catch-all card, but it's still straightforward.
Regardless of what you do, either strategy will ensure your partner earns points on everyday spending.
Create a dedicated email address for rewards
Your player two might get annoyed if their inbox overflows with a deluge of emails from loyalty programs and partners. Just think of all the promotions, credit card offers and other assorted emails you regularly get from your favorite loyalty programs.
Save them and you from a massive headache by creating a dedicated email address for their loyalty programs. You can even volunteer to manage this inbox and alert them when something important comes up.
Plus, if they're interested in learning more about miles and points, spending time together going through offers and promotions can be a valuable conversation. Limiting these conversations to 30 minutes once a week will keep them from getting overwhelmed.
Sign them up for loyalty programs
Once they have a second email address, sign up your player two for the major loyalty programs. Save the usernames and passwords in a password manager so that both of you can easily log into the accounts.
Having accounts with all major airlines and hotels opens up opportunities to double-dip on promotions and transfer points between accounts. Because some offers are targeted, this also doubles your chances of having an eligible account.
Plus, having shared access to these accounts makes it easier for you to book travel with their miles (if you have permission, of course). This is far easier than having to ask your player two for a username and password every time you go to book a family vacation or weekend getaway.
Pool rewards into one account
Your player two may not have that many points to begin with, but when you combine them with your balances, that may be what you need to book your next award stay or flight. Some programs allow you to pool points automatically or manually without a fee. These include Air Canada Aeroplan, JetBlue TrueBlue and Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Teach them to use shopping portals
Shopping online is quick and convenient. It's also one of the best ways to stack bonus points on top of credit card rewards.
You'll earn additional points at participating stores whenever you click through a shopping portal. Some stores earn cash back while others provide airline miles or flexible points. Holidays and special occasions generally offer even more bonus offers based on your spending levels.
While you may try to optimize rewards on every purchase through a shopping portal aggregator like Cashback Monitor, keep things simple for your player two.
Pick one shopping portal and make it a bookmark in their browser. Have your player two initiate every online purchase through that portal to earn cash back, miles or points. You can show them how many rewards they've earned and how that effort is getting you closer to your next vacation.
Many shopping portals have browser extensions that will automatically alert you when you can earn bonus points or cash back on a purchase. Consider installing one of these on player two's browser to make it effortless for them to earn bonus points on every online purchase they make.
Limit new credit card applications
Since your player two has a clean credit report, you may be tempted to have them apply for multiple credit cards. Resist the temptation. The last thing you want is to see their credit score drop by having multiple inquiries posted to their credit report in a short time frame.
Instead, limit their credit applications to one or two per year. Spread them out to every six months (or more) or limit their applications to times when banks offer huge bonuses that are out of the ordinary. This also gives them enough time to hit the minimum requirement organically without added stress or unnecessary spending.
Earn rewards for referring your player two
Many credit card companies offer bonuses to existing customers when you refer friends and family. When your player two is ready to apply for a new card, see if you're eligible for a referral bonus. This way, both of you will receive bonus rewards from their application. Just keep in mind that you may owe taxes on the bonus you receive for referring your player two.
In addition to referring your player two, consider referring other friends and family. They see your awesome vacation photos, so explain how they can create their own memories by earning miles and points with a card you refer them to.
Quick note: Make sure there's nothing in the card's terms and conditions that prevent you from referring your partner for a card.
Receive points for making them an authorized user
Some credit cards also issue bonus points when you make someone an authorized user on your account. This is an excellent way to earn points without applying for a new card and having a new credit inquiry on their credit report.
Generally, your player two needs to spend a certain amount on the card before you earn the bonus. Online shopping with their authorized user card is an easy way to meet those requirements.
In addition to the bonus, most authorized user credit cards receive the benefits of the primary credit card. These benefits can include rental car coverage, trip cancellation protection and airport lounge access.
Then, sign their cards up for additional rewards
You can maximize your player two's spending by signing up their credit cards for additional rewards programs. These programs are generally automatic and don't require any extra effort by you or your player two. Examples include Dosh, Drop, Bumped and airline dining rewards programs.
Dining rewards can be beneficial as they often offer new member bonuses. For example, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program currently provides new members a one-time First Step Bonus of up to 1,500 Rapid Rewards points when they dine and leave an online review. After that, your player two will continue to earn bonus points when dining at participating restaurants.
You can also enroll your player two's Mastercards in American SimplyMiles and add any applicable offers to their card. Using this program, your partner will earn AAdvantage miles on select purchases.
Further, if your player two uses ride-hailing services, make sure they're earning bonus points when they ride. For example, they can link their Uber account to Marriott Bonvoy and Lyft account to Hilton Honors or Delta SkyMiles to earn bonus points on rides.
Take advantage of shared finances
As a couple, you have multiple financial advantages that make it easier to earn rewards. Using your combined household income can make it easier to get approved for credit cards. This is especially true for a spouse that doesn't work or has a job with a relatively low income.
Additionally, charging household bills on credit cards can make it easy to hit minimum spending requirements. Those charges will also earn points and miles every time you swipe the credit card. Depending on which airline or hotel you're currently focused on, you can also shift your combined spending from one card to the next.
When you have a spouse or a relationship partner, it is possible to earn more rewards than a single person.
Many player twos are hesitant to get involved, so you have to take it slowly and make it simple for them to participate. Combining the rewards they earn with your accounts makes it easier to book your next award vacation. Hopefully, as they see how their efforts contribute to extraordinary redemptions, they'll be more motivated to learn and participate in your points strategy.
Feature photo by aridav/Shutterstock.com.