Best Ways to Earn Travel Rewards Fast
Maximizing free and discounted travel rewards takes diligent points and miles accumulation over time. But you can accelerate earning enough for dream vacations faster by leveraging the top strategies and being strategic with credit card usage, bonuses, transfers, and redemptions.
How Travel Rewards Credit Cards Work
Travel rewards credit cards convert spending into:
- Airline frequent flyer miles
- Hotel loyalty points
- General travel points
These rewards are redeemable for free flights, hotel stays, cruises, car rentals, and other travel experiences.
The fastest way to earn enough for free trips is through sign-up bonuses and ongoing card category spending bonuses.
Benefits of Travel Rewards Cards
Top benefits of travel rewards credit cards include:
- Earn rewards for free travel faster on everyday spending
- Gain access to airport lounges and other travel perks
- Flights, hotels, and rental cars for just the taxes and fees
- Higher end redemptions provide greater value per point
- Family and couple vacations become more affordable
Travel cards enhance earning potential on top of other mileage and points earned through paid travel.
Strategies to Earn Travel Rewards Quickly
Implement these tips to accelerate earning:
- Obtain sign-up and anniversary bonuses
- Spend in bonus categories like grocery, dining, or airfare
- Use airline and hotel co-branded cards for brand spending
- Buy points and miles during periodic bonus sale offers
- Participate in online shopping portals and surveys
- Transfer points between programs to top up accounts
- Refer friends and family to increase points through referrals
Proactive planning and diligent spending concentration accelerates rewards earnings.
Choosing Travel Credit Cards
Pick travel cards aligned to your goals:
Flexible Travel Points – If you want options to book flights, hotels, cruises, and more across providers.
Airline Co-Branded Card – If loyal to a specific airline and fly them frequently.
Hotel Co-Branded Card – If you frequently stay at one main hotel chain.
Transferable Points Card – If you want to transfer points between multiple airline/hotel programs.
Matching your card portfolio to your redemption goals makes the most of bonus earning opportunities.
New cardmember bonuses offer the fastest way to earn a large amount of points and miles quickly. For example:
- 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months
- 80,000 miles for spending $5,000 in 6 months
Be sure to pick a reasonable bonus offer you can accomplish organically.
Meeting Minimum Spend for Bonuses
Tips to quickly meet sign-up bonus requirements:
- Pay bills and taxes using your new card
- Use for planned large purchases like appliances
- Prepay insurance, utilities, or subscription plans
- Use for everyday spending you budget for already
- Consider manufactured spending only as a last resort
Aim to earn bonuses through normal spending without overextending your finances.
Annual Card Bonuses and Credits
Besides new cardmember offers, also leverage:
- Anniversary mile, point, or statement credits
- Airline fee credits reimbursing checked bags and inflight purchases
- Annual hotel night certificates redeemable worldwide
- Priority Pass lounge access through premium travel card annual fees
These ongoing benefits reward long-term card ownership.
Earning Points Through Referrals
Referring friends, family, and colleagues to open the same travel cards allows you to earn:
- 5,000-10,000 bonus miles or points per approved referral
- Waiver of annual fees through sufficient referrals
- Sign-up bonuses for others help fund your next redemption
Just ensure you only refer responsible credit users avoiding overextension.
Buying Points and Miles
When you’re nearly at an award threshold, some programs allow directly buying additional miles and points:
- Typically purchase bonuses offered like 25% extra miles
- Best value when topping up accounts for a specific redemption
Only recommended for a targeted top-up when you have an immediate redemption plan.
Partner Shopping Portals
Travel loyalty programs offer bonus miles and points for online shopping through partner portals like:
- American – AAdvantage eShopping
- United – MileagePlus Shopping
- Delta – SkyMiles Shopping
Register your credit card then shop and earn. Easy bonuses add up over time.
Surveys and Promotions
Loyalty programs offer quick rewards bumps for:
- Taking short member satisfaction surveys
- Watching partner commercials or dining at sponsored restaurants
- Testing promotional services through the travel brand
- Referring new businesses to the airline frequent flyer program
These quick activities provide simple point pickups over time.
Transferring Points Between Programs
Transfer flexible points from a premium travel card to a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program account to top up balances for an award redemption.
Leverage transfer bonuses to stretch your points further when available.
Award Ticket and Hotel Availability
Focus earning on:
- Airline and hotel programs with wide award availability
- Transferable points that map to multiple bookable programs
- Off-peak dates and destinations with frequent awards space
This avoids ending up with unusable points due to lack of award ticket and room availability.
Optimizing Award Ticket Redemptions
When booking award travel, consider:
- One-way awards can provide better value
- Include long layovers to maximize flights
- Only pay for the legs in each region you want to visit
- Add an open-jaw option to the return if allowed
- Take positioning flights on low-cost carriers you pay for to major hubs
Small optimizations dramatically increase the flights and trips your points provide access to.
Key Takeaways for Faster Earning
- Target sign-up bonuses that align with your natural spending
- Leverage category bonuses through strategic quarterly spending
- Refer friends and family to the same rewarding travel cards
- Purchase points only to top-off existing balances
- Transfer points between programs to accelerate goals
With proactive planning and diligent execution, your dream redemption can become reality faster than you think thanks to the outsized impact of bonuses, transfers, and smart redemptions.