How to be a Practical Points Traveler

This blog is designed to help you become a Practical Points Traveler.

“Job” Requirements

Anybody with a desire to travel, a moderate level of skill and interest in the internet, some basic math and organizational skills, and a decent credit rating can be a successful Practical Points Traveler.   The more interest and/or skill that you have in each of the above, the better you will be.

Desire to Travel —  I assume that anybody who is reading this blog is here because they either travel, want to travel, want to travel more, want to travel in something other than coach class, or wants to live vicariously through other people’s travel reports.  If you don’t care about traveling, what are you doing here?  Go find another blog, you are wasting your time here.  (But thanks for stopping by, I love the clicks. Come back soon, y’all.)

Moderate Internet Interest and Skills —  If you’ve found this blog, you probably have at least some basic skills on the internet.  Congratulations!  And the other good news is that it’s easy to get better at your internet skills – it just takes some practice, and some willingness to explore and experiment.   The bigger question is:  Do you like to spend time on the internet?   Some people get no joy from it.  Others have heard too many tales of cyber hacking, and are afraid of exploring it.  Those folks will probably never be very good at this little hobby – though they can still get some enjoyment from it.

If you are the kind of person who consults their smart phone from bed, already has a twitter account, and feels lost if you haven’t been able to connect on line in more than 20 minutes – go to the head of the class.  You are going to do very well at this.

The vast majority of people will fall between those two extremes, and will be successful Practical Points Travelers.  There is a ton of information “out there” on the internet.  if you can spend an hour or two a week monitoring blogs (hopefully including this one), and checking in on other websites, you will be able to develop the knowledge and skills needed to travel the world in comfort at a reasonable cost.

Hint:  My tip for surfing the internet at your leisure:  do it while you’re watching TV.   Multi-task.  You don’t really need to use your full brain capacity watching the Real Housewives of Wherever, do you?

Basic Math/Organization  Skills —  Wait!  Don’t run away now!  I said BASIC skills.  As in, do you know how to count?  Can you make a list?  Can you operate a calculator? (Hint:  There’s an app for that on your smart phone.)    There is nothing overly complicated.  But to be successful at this hobby, you need to be able to keep track of things like:  How many points/miles do you have?   How many points/miles do you need to get that reward you want?  When is the due date for your credit card payment?  There are tools available for all of this.  But you have to start with some basic math and organizational skills.

Decent Credit Rating — A major key to being able to travel in comfort (ie, fly in business class or first class) at a reasonable price is the ability to leverage credit card travel rewards.  That is, you apply for credit cards that reward you with tens of thousands of frequent flier miles/points.   If you have a decent credit rating, you will be surprised (make that very surprised) at how many rewards you can get this way.   If you have a FICO credit score of about 750 or more, you should qualify for most offers.   Even with a lower score, you can get started – and by doing so, you should actually be able to eventually bring up your credit score.   Many people with little or no credit history, or some dings on their credit report, will find that they can sometimes get approved for rewards cards – and again, can start improving their credit record.

The MOST IMPORTANT things to remember about leveraging credit card rewards are:

  • DON’T try this if you can’t pay off your credit card balance in full every month.  If you carry a balance, you should be looking for a low interest credit card.  You will spend more in fees than you earn in rewards if you don’t pay off the balance every month.
  • DON’T spend more than you can afford.
  • DONT GO CRAZY with credit card applications — eventually, you will probably apply for a lot of cards, but start slow to make sure you can keep track of things.