Points Intervention: How to Start Earning

May 18, 2015

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Every week, I get a ton of reader e-mail from people asking for advice on how to maximize their points earning, whether it’s for personal or business use, or both. Today, we’re launching a new Points Intervention series where I help individuals and small-business owners get their awards earning on track. It’s Time for an Intervention

This week, we’re launching a new series appropriately entitled “Points Intervention.” The truth is, even though I’m trying as hard as I can to share the points and miles gospel, there are still lots of people out there who don’t know how to earn and use points — exactly the kind of people who can benefit from an intervention. (If you know someone who needs a points intervention, please share your detailed story at intervention@thepointsguy.com.)

So, to kick off the series, I’m working with small-business expert Carissa Reiniger. She’s an author and speaker, and a whiz at helping small businesses grow — yet she herself admits that she’s terrible at maximizing miles and points. In fact, Carissa doesn’t even have a points-earning credit card. Let the intervention begin.

What’s the Story?

Carissa’s company, Silver Lining Limited, works with small businesses that bring in from $100,000 to $2 million annually to help them increase revenue and profits. Through a program called SLAP (Silver Lining Action Plan), the company sets a goal for the customer, makes a plan and supports them for a year while they implement the strategies that will help them reach their goal.

While Carissa is clearly very knowledgeable about helping companies grow, she hasn’t yet focused on her own behind-the-scenes operation by using her frequent travel and purchases to her best advantage.

points intervention

(Almost) No Travel Loyalty Programs

Carissa’s company is based in New York. Because she is originally from Canada and her partner is Australian, she travels to both countries many times a year, and flies within the US two to three times a month. In addition, because her business is currently expanding, Carissa frequently travels to Africa and the Middle East.

She does have Platinum status with American Airlines, but she has no enrollment or points earnings for car rentals or hotels, both of which she uses 50-plus times a year.

No Credit Cards, No Rewards

Carissa doesn’t have a credit card — she doesn’t even know what her American credit profile looks like, but she is eligible to get an American credit card through her company, which is good news. Meanwhile, she’s been using a Visa debit card for purchases, accruing no points or miles in the process. Spending hundreds of thousands annually for her personal and business expenses, Carissa is leaving tons of free trips, hotel stays and premium experiences on the table.

No Strategy — Where Do We Start?

After I heard all of this, I took a deep breath. People like Carissa make me realize there is still much work to be done in spreading the wisdom of points and miles strategy. So where do we start?

My advice to Carissa is simple: Get a credit card. To start building her credit score, I recommend that she start with just one card from one of the big banks, such as American Express or Chase, which is currently offering a 60,000-point bonus with the Ink Plus Business card after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months. If you’re just starting out like Carissa, I’d spend some time learning the basics about credit cards and points earning.

The good news is that it’s really easy to get a credit card in America if your business has an employer identification number (EIN). And with credit card sign-up bonuses the highest they’ve ever been, now is the time for Carissa to get started.

What’s Next?

Look out for the next video in this series where I give Carissa tips on what airlines are best for her personal and business travel. If you or your small business need a Points Intervention, email intervention@thepointsguy.com.

Episode 2: Maximizing Your Miles
Episode 3: Choosing the Best Transferable Points Program
Episode 4: Personal vs. Business Credit Card
Episode 5: Maximizing Hotel Stays

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