I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).
I learned a lesson a couple of years ago when I gave away 106 upgrades to AwardWallet Plus. I’ve updated this post on the first 2 things you should do when you’re new to the frequent flyer hobby with an unlimited number of free upgrades. See, these giveaways of premium AwardWallet membership were controversial because:
- This site has a lot more than 106 readers
- Some people who saw the offer first figured out they could apply lots of codes to their account — they would grab free premium service for a decade or more leaving other readers without
- There was no good way to track and show which codes had already been used
It turns out there is a solution for this, which I offered several months ago but want to make sure readers are aware of.
The First Two Things to Do in Miles and Points
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.
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 a $0 annual fee 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 some. 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 balances 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:
Instead of giving out unique upgrade codes, I asked AwardWallet for one code to use: ViewFromTheWing. It will work without limit for anyone that hasn’t had AwardWallet Plus before. So we won’t run out this time.
If you are registering a new account you will have an option to apply this coupon during the registration, if you already have an AwardWallet Plus and never had AwardWallet Plus before you can apply this coupon here.