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Friends Don't Let Friends Pay With Cash (or Debit Cards)

April 10, 2018
4 min read
Friends Don't Let Friends Pay With Cash (or Debit Cards)
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Incredible first-class flights. Luxurious hotel rooms. Flights plus eight nights in Europe for two for under $800 out of pocket. Even if you've only been collecting points and miles for a couple of years, you probably have your own success stories to share of how you're able to see the world for pennies on the dollar. And if you're anything like me, you love to tell your friends and family about how much you travel, how little you pay to do so and how they can do it, too.

It's thus infuriating when you go out to eat with those same individuals, those friends who are so quick to ask you about your most recent trip, those family members who longingly look at your vacation pictures, and they do the unthinkable: pull out a wad of cash (or a debit card) to pay for their portion of the bill.

(Momentary pause for everyone to shudder at the horror of this picture.)

If this mental image hits too close to home for you, then keep reading. It's time to save your loved ones from squandering the chance to do what you do. Well, maybe not to the level of carrying 15+ cards in their wallets, but you get the picture.

TPG readers...your mission, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:

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  1. Find at least one friend or family member in desperate need of help in this matter. The ideal subject is one who uses such phrases as, "Cash is king" or "My debit card is easier" or "I don't travel enough to make opening a travel rewards credit card worthwhile." These individuals need an intervention, and you're perfectly suited to do so. (If you need help making the case, share my article on how much someone throws away in just a year by not using a credit card.)
  2. Have him/her/them open a single new travel rewards credit card. While there's no single best card for everyone, there are several options that make great starter cards for those just getting into the business of earning points and miles. Have your loved one(s) select one of these cards to open and start using regularly, keeping in mind my Ten Commandments for Travel Rewards Credit Cards.
  3. Come back to share your success stories. Once these individuals have earned a sign-up bonus, have been weaned off paying with cash or their debit cards and have realized how simple (and lucrative) it is to use a travel rewards credit card, come back and tell us how you did it. You can either email your success story directly to me ( or visit the TPG Lounge on Facebook and post your story using the #pointsintervention. We'll feature several of these stories in an upcoming article later this year.

If you don't know which card would be best for your friend in need, I'd recommend going with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. This is what I always recommend as a perfect first card thanks to a variety of characteristics: low annual fee, large sign-up bonus, lucrative bonuses on travel and dining purchases and primary car rental coverage (to name a few). It's worth noting that every one of my friends and family members who started with this card did one of two things after the first year: 1) Kept the card thanks to the value they got from the Ultimate Rewards program, or 2) Upgraded the card to the Chase Sapphire Reserve to unlock even more perks.

If that isn't a good fit, check out our 7 Best Starter Travel Rewards Cards of 2019 for additional inspiration.

Bottom Line

TPG readers are passionate advocates for earning and redeeming points and miles, but it can be difficult to convey this passion to loved ones in a way that results in concrete action on their part. This is why we're throwing down the gauntlet and challenging you to save your friends and family members from their own worst instincts. Don't let them pay cash. Don't let them use debit cards. Unlock the world of possibilities by easing them into the world of travel rewards credit cards, and then come back and tell us all about it.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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