Once upon a time being a consumer was simple—you see something you want, you decide if you can afford it (if you’re my mother you negotiate until you get a good deal) you buy it and then you enjoy. The end. But these days, with the advent of air miles, there is so much more to shopping than just swiping your credit card. It’s not just about what you buy, but how you buy it and what perks you get in return. Credit card benefits are a huge part of how we buy, or at least they should be. According to TIME, “Rewards are the primary reason people pick one credit card over another, but many of us don’t really understand the rewards programs that are driving our choices.”
Think of the item you purchase as the cake, and the free miles as the frosting (and the sprinkles). Thankfully credit card miles won’t give you cavities, but they might get you a free trip to the Caribbean. We’re going to call that a win. It’s time to get smart about how you spend and to maximize your credit card points. That trip you thought you couldn’t afford? Think again, and start packing. Spending wisely is a talent that, when done right, can get you a lot more than a new pair of shoes. Here are 15 tips for using air miles to see the world. Spend now, travel tomorrow, and thank us later.
1. Research which credit card best fits your needs. Sure, you could just close your eyes, point and click to choose a credit card, but you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t research the card benefits. Finding a card that is right for your needs is a game changer—it will transform your spending from basic to beneficial. Do you want to travel? Earn free hotel stays? Get cash back? Get points for everyday purchases? Bankrate has an easy credit card comparison tool.
Read Related: Miles Ahead: 15 Unexpected Ways to Fly Cheaper