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Points & Miles CheckList: Things to Do in 2018

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions and I’m not about to fake it for a blog post. But I do believe in planning and figuring out how to tackle goals. We all have them, right? Maybe you want to head to the magical beaches of The Maldives this year, visit ancient ruins in Tunisia, or check out the crab migration on Christmas Island. Regardless of what your travel goals are this year, you probably need points and miles to make it happen. Here’s a list of things you should add to your points and miles checklist in 2018:

Points and Miles Check List, Laptop, notepad

❑ Set your 2018 #Travelgoals. What are your 2018 travel goals and how will you make them happen? Now is the best time to sit down and strategize. Save yourself the headache of a last-minute trip and plan, earn, and book at least 3 months in advance. Headed to the Middle East? Learn about the cheapest way to fly to Dubai using miles. By planning in advance, you’ll not only have peace of mind but you’ll also save points because you’ll manage to research the cheapest all redemption options.

❑ Plan out your 2018 credit card churns. This falls into the travel goals bucket. Credit card churning is an important part of your point-earning strategy, so it pays off to strategize. Are you aiming for a Sapphire Reserve Card and trying to stay under 5/24? Do you want to get an Amex Platinum card but prefer to hold out for a 100,000 point bonus? After you’ve set your travel goals, make a list of credit cards that help you get most of the way there. Figure out what the highest sign-up bonuses are, when those usually come around, and time your churning schedule accordingly. If you’re applying for any of the following cards, consider using my referral link:

  • Discover It Miles Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express
  • Amex Everyday Preferred Card from American Express
  • The Platinum Card from American Express
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Chase Freedom

❑ Claim your Amex Airline Fee Credit. The deadline for changing your airline for the Amex Airline Fee credit is January 31, 2018. If you’re not happy with last year’s selection, be sure to change it before January 31. While you’re at it, I also wouldn’t wait too long to take advantage of that credit. It’s easy to lose track of this stuff as time passes. So do it ASAP and you’ll have less stuff to check off your list in December.

❑ Get a new Hilton American Express Card. I don’t know about you all, but I’m pretty excited about the new Hilton American Express credit cards. There are two new cards to choose from and applications will likely go live on January 31. Why is this such a big deal? For starters, American Express limits credit card sign-up bonuses to one per person. So it’s very possible that if your Citi Hilton Honors account transfers to American Express, you won’t be eligible for the new card’s sign-up bonus. This presents an opportunity to stock up on Hilton points, get Hilton Diamond status easily, along with a slew of brand new travel perks. I’m personally going to pick up the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card for its instant Diamond status benefit, free nights, and $250 resort credit. While you’re at it….

❑ Cancel your Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card. On January 30 Citi will transfer all Hilton Reserve credit cards over to American Express. My guess is that these new accountholders will receive the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Nice, right? Well, maybe not. You probably won’t get a sign-up bonus for the new card and cancelling/re-applying may still not make you eligible for a new bonus. My dad still has a Hilton Reserve card, so I’m going to cancel his account in the next few weeks (after some heavy manufactured spending) and getting him an Aspire card when the application goes live.

❑ Get a head start on annual spending bonuses. Did you miss out on all the great credit card annual spending bonuses last year? Don’t make the same mistake twice – get a head start on this year’s spending bonuses. I’m not saying put $100k+ on your Southwest Credit Card this month, but do get into the habit of knocking out at least 10% of your spending requirements every month. Starting with this one!

❑ Take Advantage of Amex Offers.  Amex Offers are how I off-set the annual fees on my Amex credit cards. I also use these periodically to resell merchant gift cards to The Plastic Merchant. It’s a great way to work in some normal spending. Aside from that, I also earn a good amount of cash back and bonus points on my regular spending every year. In 2018 I have a ton of great cash back and bonus mile offers from SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Be sure to check your Amex Offers frequently – you never know what awesome deal you might come across.

That’s all I’ve got. If you have any important activities you think people need to keep in mind for 2018, please share them in the comment section.

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13 Comments

  1. I have tried to cancel my 2 Hilton cards from Citi in December. They did not let me do it.
    If anybody have a way of doing it please post

  2. Ariana, I have a close friend whose daughter has just accepted a residency in a Denver hospital. She (the mother) wants to get starting earning points/miles to travel to visit with her daughter as often as possible. Her credit is very good. At this point, she has a bank issued credit card, but nothing earning a good return. She also owns a business with her husband. Which cards would you recommend I start her with. I would have started her with the CSP, because of the free year, but I read where you cannot receive the bonus for both the CSP and CSR cards anymore…bummer. So I just wanted to get your thoughts. Thanks!!

    • I’d consider an Ink card if she’s a business owner. The sign-up bonus is 80k right now (higher than CSR) and she might make good use of the bonus categories.

      • Good point. I know there used to be strategies about applying for two at one time and getting instantly approved for both. Is that still the case? (May have had to use two browsers….thats been a while).

  3. Curious about canceling the Hilton card. I’m already Diamond status and we’re planning a China trip later this year and looking at staying at Hilton properties. I would like to build up my points with the new cards Amex will offer but if I already have the Citi and I cancel it you’re saying that I may not get the new offer on the Aspire Amex card. What would you recommend?

    • I’d MS with the Citi card as much as you can to build up your balance. Then cancel the card before the January 30 transfer and apply for the Amex version when it comes out. That way, you know for sure you’ll qualify for a sign-up bonus while also generating (essentially) consequence-free ms.

  4. “My guess is that these new accountholders will receive the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card.” Did you mean to say that the Citi Hilton Reserve cards would be convert to the new Ascend cards?
    I’m thinking of letting my Citi Reserve card switch over just to keep the big credit line I have on it. Then I hope to apply for the Aspire card and offer to transfer that credit over. Not sure if this will work or not.

    • The Citi Hilton cards will definitely convert to Amex – I’m guessing the Reserve will become the Aspire since it seems to be the most similar. I don’t know if you’ll get the Aspire sign-up bonus if your Citi card converts to that card. Time will tell. That’s why I’m playing it safe and cancelling my dad’s Reserve card before the transfer.

  5. I like to cancel my Citi Hilton per recommendation and apply for Amex Hilton later for the bonus points but I booked a room with the certificate for later this month, do you know if I was the cancel the Citi Hilton now if that would affect the room I booked with the certificate? Thx

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