TPG’s information to getting began with factors, miles and bank cards

Welcome to The Factors Man, your go-to supply for all issues journey, factors, miles, bank cards and extra.

If that is your first foray into the world of award journey, we all know it may be an thrilling mixture of limitless potentialities and an uneasy feeling of not understanding the place to start.

The excellent news: You got here to the correct place. We’ll assist get you in your method to unlocking unbelievable journey experiences. Factors and miles really can prevent a ton of cash on journey bills and make the unimaginable your actuality.

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Whether or not you’re dreaming of an overwater bungalow and first-class flights, or are in search of a method to go to your loved ones in the course of the holidays with out breaking the financial institution, TPG is right here to point out you easy methods to use factors and miles to make that occur.

On this “getting began” information, we’ll stroll you thru the fundamentals of factors, miles and rewards bank cards. We’ll level you in the correct course, masking the whole lot from phrases it’s essential know to inspiration for the place factors and miles can take you to easy methods to earn and redeem factors and miles. Buckle up as we take you on this journey exhibiting you ways this new method of touring can change your life.

What are factors and miles?

In the event you’re new to the factors and miles interest, there are a couple of phrases and types you’ll wish to familiarize your self with as you dive into a few of the fundamentals. We’ve a full glossary you may bookmark, however listed below are a few of the commonest phrases you will come throughout.

Now that you already know the essential phrases, it’s time to know the gamers within the factors and miles recreation. Let’s undergo the highest U.S. airways, lodge chains and bank card issuers that you just’ll wish to know.

That was a primary rundown of the principle phrases you’ll must know to get began in your factors and miles journey, however there’s at all times extra you may be taught. If you wish to preserve going, right here’s an A-to-Z breakdown of the journey phrases it’s essential know to profit from the factors and miles recreation with TPG’s Energy Tips about YouTube.

What are factors and miles price?

Now that you’ve got gotten a hold of the important thing phrases, it’s possible you’ll be questioning what worth you may get from factors and miles. The reality is, most loyalty program currencies will not be price a set quantity. The upside to that’s it’s potential to redeem factors and miles for lots of worth, however the draw back is that it may be complicated to determine whenever you’re getting the most effective deal.

TPG publishes our personal factors and miles valuations every month that assist our readers know the way a lot we worth sure airline, lodge and bank card factors and miles. We additionally present a calculator so you may evaluate the worth of utilizing miles or factors versus paying money for any particular journey you might have your eye on.

Our valuations are our evaluation of how a lot we worth every loyalty program forex, although how a lot worth you’ll get out of your factors and miles is dependent upon how you employ them. For instance, we at present worth Chase Final Rewards factors and American Categorical Membership Rewards factors at 2 cents per level (which is increased than most different loyalty program currencies, equivalent to American Airways AAdvantage miles or Marriott Bonvoy factors). Nevertheless, that doesn’t imply you’re assured 2 cents per level in worth whenever you use these rewards.

You would redeem your Chase factors for anyplace between 1 and 1.5 cents every by the Chase journey portal (relying on which bank cards from Chase you might have in your pockets), or you may switch American Categorical factors to an airline for business-class flights and find yourself getting 2.8 cents per level in worth.

We’ll define a few of the methods you may redeem your factors later on this information, and you may sustain with our newest articles to be taught extra about how TPG staffers and readers are utilizing their factors and miles for their very own travels.

What can I do with factors and miles?

This in all probability sounds excessive, however bank card rewards, lodge factors and airline miles actually can change your life. Factors and miles (and somewhat information) can open the door to flights, suites and journeys you by no means dreamed potential.

For some, meaning taking an worldwide flight in a lie-flat seat the place you may sip Champagne within the sky whereas in your method to an overwater villa on some far-flung island. That’s a 100% potential and reasonable purpose — and we are able to present you easy methods to make it occur.

Conrad Bora Bora booked with Hilton factors. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Nevertheless, that’s not all factors and miles can do. You can even use your factors and miles to go to Disney World, journey throughout Europe, jet off to Hawaii, go to New York Metropolis, keep at a lodge close to a nationwide park or take a trip together with your children and household.

And whereas journey normally offers the most important return to your factors, you may typically use them for different issues, too, like masking the price of present playing cards, buying and selling them for assertion credit or money again in your bank cards and even treating your self to dinner or merchandise.

The return you get to your factors does fluctuate based mostly on how you employ them — and we may also help you resolve whether or not to make use of factors or money — however there are not any inherently good or unhealthy methods to make use of rewards so long as they’re unlocking one thing you need.

Actual-world TPG reader success tales

It’s OK in case you are unsure what you will sooner or later wish to do together with your factors and miles. Listed below are some real-world examples of what another actual TPG group members did with theirs:

In the event you’d quite watch how this all works, right here’s one instance exhibiting how some TPG readers can use their factors and miles to get to Costa Rica.

First-timer collection from TPG staffers

Everybody was new to this at one level — even those that work at TPG — so listed below are some getting began guides from TPG writers who had been as soon as new to this manner of touring:

How can I earn factors and miles?

Opposite to fashionable perception, you don’t must be on the street each week with the intention to rack up sufficient factors and miles for an epic trip. That’s as a result of there are a number of methods you may earn rewards to make use of for journey with out stepping foot on a aircraft.

Bank cards


One of many best methods to earn factors and miles is thru spending on a bank card.

Actually, for many us, nearly all of the miles we earn today will not be by flying — they arrive from utilizing our bank cards. Not solely are you able to obtain a considerable head begin from the welcome bonus you may earn whenever you first get a card (relying on the cardboard, it may be price $1,000 or extra in journey!), however you too can accrue factors by charging on a regular basis purchases (assume: grocery runs, automotive insurance coverage funds, docs visits, cellphone payments, gasoline fill-ups and extra) to your playing cards.

We advocate utilizing a rewards-earning bank card for as many purchases as potential, as they’re going to do greater than offer you invaluable rewards. These playing cards additionally provide extra client fraud protections than debit playing cards. Plus, they show you how to construct your credit score rating. Simply be sure you’re paying off your invoice each month to keep away from curiosity costs. We’ll get again thus far in additional depth shortly.

If that is new to you and also you’re simply getting began with bank cards, listed below are a couple of guides to take a look at from TPG consultants:


Whereas touring is much from the one method to earn factors and miles, it’s a tried-and-true method to rack up rewards. Nearly each time you pay for a flight or lodge stick with a model you might have a free loyalty account with, you’ll earn factors or miles that you need to use towards future journey.

The extra you journey, the simpler it’s to earn elite standing with sure airways and lodge manufacturers. When you qualify for elite standing, you may earn factors and miles at an accelerated fee.

To begin your journey towards incomes elite standing, be sure you join the loyalty applications that you’ll use whereas away from dwelling. These embrace ones linked to accommodations and airways, plus different journey manufacturers.

Listed below are a couple of guides about a few of the hottest applications to get you began so you do not by accident miss out on any factors, miles and awards whereas in your subsequent journey:

Common airline loyalty applications:

Common lodge loyalty applications:

Buying portals

You may earn loads of journey rewards with out really touring. A method you may rack up rewards with out leaving house is to be strategic about the way you store on-line. You may earn factors and miles (even and not using a rewards bank card) simply by clicking by a buying portal.

Many main airways, lodge chains and card issuers have buying portals the place you may earn extra rewards to your on-line spending. You can even discover buying portals that earn money again in the event you’re extra fascinated with incomes these forms of rewards proper now.

The very best half? In the event you do have a bank card, you may double dip and earn factors and miles by each your bank card and a buying portal for a similar buy.

Right here’s easy methods to begin studying about incomes factors and miles whereas buying on-line:

Different methods to earn factors and miles

Bank cards, journey and buying portals are the simplest methods to earn factors and miles, however there are different choices, too. You may earn factors and miles from eating applications whereas consuming at eating places, utilizing ride-hailing providers like Uber and Lyft, and even taking surveys at dwelling.


Which bank card ought to I begin with?

As beforehand talked about, rewards-earning bank cards will not be the one method to earn factors and miles, however they’re one of many best methods to ramp up your incomes potential in a rush. That is very true when that first huge welcome bonus will get deposited in your account and also you all of the sudden go from having zero to tens (or lots of) of 1000’s of factors prepared to make use of for journeys.

What to know earlier than getting your first card

Earlier than including a rewards bank card to your pockets, there are some essential issues to remember.

First, know that these bank cards will not be for many who count on to wish to hold debt on the cardboard. If it’s essential park a big buy someplace for some time, go for a card with a low and even 0% rate of interest.

Bank card factors will completely value you actual cash ultimately in case you are paying curiosity or shopping for greater than you in any other case would to earn them. So, you will wish to be sure you repay your stability every month and benefit from the factors and buy protections you get by shifting your on a regular basis purchases to your shiny new card. Begin gradual by shifting a few of your on a regular basis bills or recurring month-to-month bills to playing cards that you already know you’ll simply repay every month.

Keep in mind, too, that it’s essential have fairly respectable credit score to get authorised for a few of the extra premium rewards bank cards. In case you are simply beginning to construct or rebuild your credit score, take into account these good “starter” bank cards.

Selecting your first bank card

Whereas each state of affairs is completely different, we sometimes advocate that those that are really model new to factors and miles begin with a bank card that comes with a superb welcome bonus, has an annual payment of round $100 or much less and has quite a lot of choices for when it comes time to redeem your factors.

In order for you some particular strategies, the Chase Sapphire Most popular Card is one among our most beneficial rewards bank cards to begin with.


That is one among our favourite playing cards for individuals to begin with as a result of it has a sub-$100 annual payment and earns 3 factors per greenback spent on eating, choose streaming providers and on-line grocery orders, plus 2 factors per greenback spent on journey and 1 level for many different costs. These factors can be utilized at 1.25 cents every towards journey or transferred to many various journey companions, equivalent to Hyatt, United Airways, Southwest Airways, British Airways and Marriott, amongst others.

Official utility hyperlink: Chase Sapphire Most popular Card with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 bonus factors after you spend $4,000 inside the first three months of account opening.

The Capital One Enterprise Rewards Credit score Card is one other nice alternative to your first rewards card. It additionally has an annual payment beneath $100 and a easy incomes construction of two miles per greenback spent on all purchases.


With this card, the miles you earn can be utilized at a worth of 1 cent every for journey or transferred to one among Capital One’s lodge and airline companions, equivalent to British Airways’ Avios, Air Canada’s Aeroplan and Singapore Airways’ KrisFlyer applications. By having this card, you additionally get a few annual passes to go to the Capital One airport lounges, which we’re huge followers of.

Official utility hyperlink: Capital One Enterprise Rewards Credit score Card with a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $4,000 inside the first three months of account opening.

Don’t fear in case you are not able to get a brand new rewards bank card simply but, because it’s not a required element of beginning to earn factors and miles — although it actually does assist. Once you’re prepared, right here’s extra info on discovering the correct card for you:

How can I redeem factors and miles?

We’ve checked out what factors and miles are and easy methods to earn them. Now let’s get to the nice half: how you can put them to make use of.

You don’t have to begin with a giant, fancy redemption. Actually, you don’t have to make use of them anytime quickly, particularly in case you are simply beginning your incomes journey. However, you’re going to be smarter about incomes rewards if in case you have an concept of how it’s possible you’ll use them down the street.

We promise that as quickly as you make even the smallest redemption, that rush of adrenaline can be sufficient to propel you to be taught much more and go greater subsequent time — if that’s your purpose.

Redeeming airline miles for flights

Whereas there are different choices, you might be normally finest off redeeming airline miles for flights.

When utilizing miles for flights, know that they will cowl a flight operated by the airline you earned your miles with or by one among its companions. For instance, in the event you earned miles with United MileagePlus, you may redeem them to fly on a United-operated flight or on one tied to a United companion, equivalent to Lufthansa, Singapore Airways, ANA or Aer Lingus, to call a couple of.

Lufthansa firstclass. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

On the most simple stage, you merely log into the airline frequent flyer program the place you might have miles, click on “redeem miles” and run a search such as you would for a paid ticket to redeem your earnings.

Whereas years in the past you typically needed to cope with award seats being offered out or not obtainable, that’s not normally the case today. More and more, airways worth their award seats in a method that’s no less than loosely tied to the money worth relating to their very own planes. Which means the worth will fluctuate (and will be excessive throughout peak instances), however seats are sometimes obtainable.

The information and tips to actually get probably the most out of your airline miles fluctuate by program. Listed below are a couple of guides to get you began:

And if you wish to jump-start your learnings, listed below are some errors to keep away from when redeeming your airline miles and some of our favourite makes use of of airline miles.

Redeeming lodge factors for stays

Like airline miles, your lodge factors are sometimes probably the most invaluable when used to e-book lodge stays with the chain you earned the factors with. Whereas accommodations don’t sometimes have companions obtainable on the similar scale because the airways, you do normally have loads of choices to e-book with numerous manufacturers inside that program.

For instance, your Marriott Bonvoy factors can get you award stays at the whole lot from a elaborate St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton property all the best way all the way down to a primary however conveniently situated SpringHill Suites or Fairfield Inn due to all of those manufacturers being a part of the Marriott household.

SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion Nationwide Park. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Some lodge applications nonetheless use award charts that permit you understand how many factors an evening will value upfront, assuming a room the lodge defines as commonplace is accessible. However more and more, lodge applications are charging you award charges that adjust nightly, similar to money charges. This will make it simpler to e-book a room however more durable to know upfront what number of factors it’ll value.

Right here’s how this all works based mostly on the lodge program:

When you accrue sufficient factors to cowl a free evening, know that some lodge applications, equivalent to World of Hyatt and Hilton Honors, have an added perk of redeeming factors. As an alternative of solely receiving the good thing about a room paid for with factors, you will even have resort charges waived on stays booked solely with lodge factors. That may prevent $50 (or extra) per evening at some properties. Know, although, that Marriott Bonvoy doesn’t waive resort charges, even on award stays.

To leap forward to expert-level redemptions, try these tales about errors to keep away from when redeeming lodge factors and easy methods to get the most effective worth out of your lodge factors.

Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort & Spa. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY

Redeeming bank card factors and miles for journey

Airline miles and lodge factors are unbelievable instruments, however there are some large benefits to focusing most of your effort on incomes extra versatile bank card factors and miles.

Bank card-based rewards applications embrace:

These will be much more invaluable than incomes factors or miles tied to particular applications like United or American Airways as a result of you might have extra choices when it comes time to money in these extra versatile factors and miles. Normally, bank card earnings can be utilized for journey in one among three principal methods:

  • The best choice is to make use of the factors to e-book journey through the bank card’s journey web site (which normally works equally to Expedia). Usually, the factors are price a hard and fast quantity when redeemed this manner, starting from 1 to 1.5 cents per level, relying on the cardboard and program.
  • With some applications, like Capital One, you may e-book journey on sure playing cards such as you usually would (straight with the journey supplier) after which use the rewards to offset the cost on the cardboard later. For instance, you may pay for a $150 lodge room straight with the property after which a couple of weeks later, you may log in to your account and use 15,000 Capital One miles to offset the cost.
  • We saved what could also be the most effective for final. You may switch your bank card factors to one of many program’s companion applications, equivalent to United MileagePlus or World of Hyatt, relying on this system. That is how factors and miles professionals actually get loads of worth from their rewards.

Whereas utilizing factors to e-book journey through a web site just like the Chase journey portal could be the best method to redeem your bank card factors or miles, you may typically get extra worth per level than only a mounted worth by transferring them to a lodge or airline program as soon as you discover the reward you need.

You need to use the TPG awards versus money calculator that will help you decode a few of the math behind one of the simplest ways to redeem your factors and miles.

In order for you somewhat break from studying, here’s a TPG video that can inform you extra about invaluable transferable factors. Whilst you’re there, you may subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you don’t miss a factor.

What’s subsequent? TPG’s ‘getting began’ guidelines

When you nail down the fundamentals of factors and miles, the world is your oyster to unlock.

You may journey to superb locations, lower your expenses on that yearly journey dwelling across the holidays, ditch economic system seats in favor of long-haul flights in enterprise class and a lot extra.

If you wish to get only one rewards-earning bank card and use these factors at about 1 cent every to cowl journey bills, you are doing nice and there is nothing in any respect fallacious with that strategy. However the studying doesn’t must cease right here. The extra you already know about factors and miles, the higher you may maximize your travels (and save much more cash).

To that finish, we’ve created a guidelines you need to use to information your method by the start of the factors and miles journey.

Step 1: Choose your first redemption purpose

The best possible method to be taught the factors and miles recreation is by incomes and redeeming factors. Now that you already know the fundamentals, it is time to decide a redemption purpose to aspire to.

Perhaps it is racking up sufficient factors to pay to your in-laws to remain at a lodge over the vacations. Or, perhaps it is incomes sufficient miles to e-book flights to Disney World. Maybe you wish to go to Paris or resolve to go all in and save up factors to go to the Maldives. The concept is to select an attainable purpose to work towards and encourage you to proceed studying about factors and miles.

Step 2: Join each main loyalty program

Subsequent, join the entire loyalty applications affiliated with the airways and accommodations you fly and stick with. Signing up for loyalty applications is free, so there is no hurt in becoming a member of them. Doing so will show you how to earn rewards each time you journey.

To enroll in the key U.S. airline frequent flyer applications, go to the next websites:

And for the key lodge loyalty applications, you may join right here:

Step 3: Apply to your first rewards bank card

Once you’re prepared, getting that first rewards bank card is an effective way to jumpstart your factors and miles earnings. In the event you hit your sign-up bonus, use your card to pay for on a regular basis purchases, ensuring to pay it off in full every month. Even only one card in your pockets could make a big effect in your factors and miles stability.

Try this information for all it’s essential find out about easy methods to really apply for a bank card.

Step 4: Be part of the TPG group

At TPG, a big a part of our mission is to make journey extra accessible to everybody utilizing factors and miles. As you begin incomes and redeeming factors and miles for journey, be sure you’re following TPG for all the newest info that will help you improve your journey experiences, develop your information and (most significantly) meet your journey objectives.

Observe TPG on social media and be part of a group of fellow journey lovers.

Step 5: Join TPG newsletters

By no means miss out on TPG information and recommendation from our consultants by signing up for one among our free newsletters.

Step 6: Obtain the TPG app

You can even try our TPG instruments that will help you determine the most effective methods to make use of your factors and miles based mostly in your objectives and pursuits.

Use the free TPG App that will help you curate your information feed, spend smarter on on a regular basis bills and observe your progress towards a dream journey redemption.

Step 7: Inform us all about your first redemption

Making that first journey redemption — regardless of how massive or small — is a serious accomplishment, and we wish to show you how to have a good time your first foray into the world of factors and miles.

Tag us in pictures of you having fun with your redemption, electronic mail us at to share your redemption success tales and do not hesitate to succeed in out on any of our platforms to point out us how TPG helps you earn and burn factors and miles. We’ll be with you each step of your journey.

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