Michelle asked about…
strategy for choosing credit cards for sign up bonuses. Should I stick with one or two programs at first or diversify widely?
In general I think it’s a great idea to be strategic about where you acquire points.
- What award(s) are you most likely to want? Pick programs that will help you get those awards.
- Make sure you have enough points in the right accounts to get those awards.
- Then once you have enough points for the award you want in one program, move onto another program and start building points there.
- That way you wind up with enough points in more than one program for the awards you want — increasing your chances of getting the availability you need when it comes time to travel.
Here’s where one-way awards really come into play. It’s easier to build up points from credit card signup bonuses for a one-way award than it is for a roundtrip. Two people traveling together, earn enough United miles one-way for an award and then you can use American miles (for instance) for your return.
The other key ingredient here is transferable points, like Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints are especially useful. You can put the points into a variety of airline mileage programs, and you can choose where they go later based on the award you want to book or the account you need to top off.
It’s also useful that several transferable points programs even let you transfer points into the same places. For instance, Starwood, Chase, and American Express all let you transfer points to British Airways and they all let you transfer points to Singapore Airlines. That makes it really easy to earn those currencies.