Maximizing Credit Cards to Become Points-Rich Without Spending a Ton

Jul 2, 2018

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There’s no question that it’s easy to amass a wealth of points and miles by using credit cards for all your spend. But what if you have low monthly expenses and don’t have the opportunity to earn travel rewards through work? Is it still possible to earn enough points for free travel?

This question has crossed every beginner’s mind and was recently asked by TPG reader Kim B. in our private Facebook group, the TPG Lounge. Well, the answer is yes, and fortunately, it’s quite easy to do so. 

Credit Card Welcome Bonuses

The easiest way to accumulate thousands of points and miles is by signing up for new credit cards and meeting the minimum spend requirements of their welcome bonuses.

With increasing competition among card issuers, welcome bonuses are becoming more lucrative than ever before. For instance, there are six cards currently offering 100,000-point welcome bonuses. Let that sink in for a moment — six cards alone can bring your balance up by over half a million points.

And that’s only the beginning; there are plenty more amazing bonuses out there. We regularly update our roundup of the best current sign-up offers in our Top Travel Rewards Cards guide, so that’s a good starting point if you need help finding a good card to pick. And there are plenty of ways to easily meet minimum spend requirements even if you have low monthly expenses, such as pre-paying some regular expenses like utilities.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card’s welcome bonus is enough for a one-way business-class flight to Europe on United.

Other Card Bonuses

You may even earn bonus points or miles by telling a bank that you’re thinking about canceling your credit card. Issuers pay a lot to acquire customers, so they’re typically willing to offer generous retention bonuses to dissuade you from closing your account.

Strategic Spending

If you want to maximize your return on spending, it’s crucial that you put as much of your daily spend as possible on your rewards-earning credit cards.

The key is to use cards that earn the most rewards for each particular spending category. There are many ways for you to get creative with your spending. For instance, you could pay rent and mortgages with a credit card and offer to pick up the tab when dining out with friends (and have them pay you back with cash or via a free online service like PayPal or Venmo). Plus, you can sometimes earn even more points by using programs like Amex Offers and online shopping portals like Shop through Chase.

Photo by @chibelek via Twenty20.

Bottom Line

You don’t need to have high monthly expenses to become points-rich. All it takes is some homework and a few new credit cards. The TPG Lounge is a great place to connect with other members and ask more advanced points and miles questions like this one. If you’re not a member of the Facebook group yet, you can join here.

Finally, if you don’t have the ability to spend a lot, keep in mind that there are plenty of airline, hotel and cash-back cards that offer welcome bonuses with low minimum spending requirements. And some only require one purchase to earn the welcome bonus. Take a look at those options at the links below:

And if you want to get more tips from our very own TPG readers, check out our story on “Low Spender, No Problem: Points and Miles Tips From TPG Readers for Anyone With a Credit Card.”

Featured image of Korean Air first class by Nick Ellis / The Points Guy.

2018 TPG Award Winner: Mid-Tier Card of the Year
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
17.99% - 24.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.