Getting Started in Miles & Points? Do These 2 Things First

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Last month I gave away 99 upgrades to AwardWalet Plus. I’ve updated this post on the first 2 things you should do when you’re new to the frequent flyer hobby with 106 more new free upgrade codes.

The first two things anyone interested in frequent flyer miles and travel should do is sign up for Award Wallet to track your points and get a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card to earn the most points in a highly flexible, valuable currency, quickly.

Don’t even think about them, take my word for it, just do. You’ll thank me.

Why Chase Sapphire Preferred is a Key Tool for Any Savvy Frequent Flyer

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. It has an Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95.

You can earn another 5,000 bonus points when you add your first authorized user to the account and make a purchase in the same 3 months from account opening. The card earns 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.

Points can be transferred to the program you want them to go to — you decide later which one (based on who has the award space you need) and in what quantities.

You can choose from United, Korean, Air France Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Southwest. That gets you all three major airline alliances, it gets you the extra award space offered to Singapore’s and Air France’s own members. And it gets you non-alliance airlines Virgin Atlantic and Southwest (which has no change for redeposit fees if you need to cancel a trip).


Singapore Airlines Suites

Points transfer to hotels as well, Hyatt is an especially good value but Marriott, Ritz-Carlton and IHG Rewards Club are options too.

Why Award Wallet is a Key Tool for Any Savvy Traveler

Regular readers of the blog know that I use Award Wallet to track my miles and points.

The free version of the service suffices for most. You enter your frequent flyer account numbers and passwords. Then you can update most of your account balances with a single click and see them on one page. You can log into your accounts with a single click.

When I first signed up I realized quickly I was happy to pay the minimum required for their premium membership that included expiration date tracking for many of my accounts.

To me signing up for an Award Wallet account is one of the very first steps to take getting started in this hobby. Not only does it help you manage your points, but it also notifies you of changes to your travel reservations. That’s saved me on several occasions. Sometimes it’s an aircraft change, or a seat assignment change, and I’m able to fix my booking in advance while there are plenty of options rather than finding out at the airport with slim pickings at best.

I also feel more confident that my miles are protected when I track them with AwardWallet. I see changes in my account balnaces right away, since I hit one button to update my accounts each morning. If someone was stealing my miles, I would know right away and probably before they actually traveled with them. AwardWallet also ensures I know when miles post, which helps in tracking down miles I am owed rather than earning miles and merely hoping they post.

Sign Up Free, Upgrade to Premium Free

Most benefits are provided free, however there are extras that come with the ‘Plus’ version of AwardWallet, like expiration tracking for the majority of your accounts. Here’s the comparison:

Here are 106 free upgrade links that will let you take your existing free account and give yourself premium service for 6 months.

They’re likely to go quickly, I apologize if they are gone by the time you try them. Hopefully readers may be willing to give away their own upgrade coupon links in the comments as well.

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Award Wallet
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Agree with the AwardWallet recommendation, but why recommend the Sapphire Preferred now with Reserve about to release on Monday? Particularly for those new to hobby without 5/24 problems.

  2. Signed up for Award Wallet a few weeks ago and one of the first things it did was show me that I had a free Marriott night expiring in two weeks that I had forgotten about. We booked a last minute weekend away, realized I had a cousin in the area I hadn’t seen in almost a decade so we had a great dinner with him and his family and all around had a great found weekend, all thanks to a simple reminder from Award Wallet. Great service!

  3. @Matt B – several reasons.

    1. Most people getting started aren’t going to be comfortable with a $450 fee, regardless of the argument, as their first card. The $0 fee the first year is a great way to ease them in.

    2. They should still get Sapphire Preferred, it has a generous bonus.

    3. And they should get it first because Chase isn’t super willing to give out cards to people that have applied for several over the past couple of years. Data points so far — during the brief period of time that the application was live early for Sapphire Reserve — is that they’re more liberal with that card. At least so far. So it could make sense to do Sapphire Preferred first and then Reserve later.

  4. @Brian, Thanks!

    Here’s one for someone else. I’ll add more if it give me a different code once this is used.

    free-gmgibg

  5. Id like to see a how-to for those of us who are delta hub-captive and Hilton centric. I live in Atlanta and my travel takes me to small towns where a decent Hampton inn can be easily found. I know that isn’t very aspirational but that’s my job for now. Thanks!

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