How to start the New Year off points rich

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It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is quickly coming to an end. With just three short months left, frequent travelers are scurrying to requalify for elite status while points and miles newbies are trying to figure out how and where to begin. The good news for those who are new to the game is that now is the absolute perfect time to get started, here’s how you can start your new year off points rich.

Related: The beginners guide to points, miles, airlines and credit cards
Welcome bonuses
Your number one key to success in becoming points rich is to take advantage of credit card welcome bonuses. The reason why now is such a prime time to apply is because most credit card bonuses require you to reach your minimum spend in a three-month span, which just so happens to be how far we are from 2020. With the busy holiday season and the shopping craziness that is Black Friday around the corner, you’re also more likely to be able to hit the minimum spend much faster than in other parts of the year.

Here’s a few credit cards you may want to consider:
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The CSP is currently offering 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. TPG values that bonus alone at $1,200. As for earning, you can expect 2x points on all travel and dining spend and 1x points on all other expenses. This is a great card for those just getting into travel rewards as the bonus offer is generous and there are 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners to chose from, making it all the more valuable.
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card 

TPG values the current 50,000 bonus miles at $700* (after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months), which can easily be applied to various travel expenses charged on the card. Those miles can also be be transferred to 15 airlines. The Venture card is great for those who don’t want to think too hard about what they should and shouldn’t be using their card for because it earns a flat 2x miles on everything, but it also earns a bonus 10x miles on bookings booked via through January 2020.

*Bonus value based on TPG valuation and not provided by issuer
The Platinum Card® from American Express 

The Platinum card is geared more toward those with a longer credit history and more rewards experience, but it’s worth mentioning that its generous 60,000 welcome bonus points (after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months) are valued by TPG at $1,200. Beyond the points, this card also offers a whole lot of perks such as Centurion and Delta Sky Club lounge access, up to $200 airline credit, Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit (up to $100) and complimentary Hilton and Marriott Gold status, just to name a few.

If you’re looking for a card that earns points in specific categories or you’re not sure which card is best for your age, check out some of these helpful guides we’ve put together:
Best travel credit cards Best cash back credit cards Best credit cards for gas Best credit cards for everyday spending Best small business credit cards The best first credit cards Credit cards every 30-year-old should consider 3 Credit cards every 40-year-olds should have 5 Credit cards every 50-year-old should consider Shopping Portals
I am a shopping portal fiend. I can’t stress enough just how many extra points you can rack up by shopping online and simply activating the portal of your choice. You can also double your earnings by double dipping with a points-earning credit card and voila! You just earned points via a portal and a credit card. A lot of stores often run bonus points/miles promos around the holidays, which can also help you come out on top in the new year. Ultimately, your holiday shopping could help your land your next vacation via points.

Related: The beginners guide to airline shopping portals, Maximizing online shopping portals
Link your cards to loyalty programs
Another effortless way to earn points and miles without putting any thought into it is by linking your credit card to dining and ride share loyalty programs.

When it comes to dining loyalty programs, you can’t link your card to multiple ones. Instead, you’ll have to pick one and stick with that. These programs are available across all the major airline and hotel chains, and the sign-up process is super simple. Once you’ve signed up, all you have to do to earn points is use your card at participating restaurants.

As for ride share program, Lyft currently has partnerships with Delta and Hilton. The difference with this program is that you can simultaneously earn points for both partners on all rides. To incentivize users to link their Hilton and Lyft accounts, Hilton is currently offering 1,000 bonus Hilton Honors points for users who sign-up and book a ride from now until Nov. 15.

Related: Maximizing dining rewards programs, Maximizing points and miles with Lyft partnerships 
Gift cards (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
You’ll hear this recommendation from points-and-miles veterans time and time again and there’s a reason it’s a fan favorite — bonus points. Many issuers have cracked down on gift card spend in bulk, but if you’re reasonable with your gift card purchases then this could be a lucrative tactic. The way this works is you usually have to be targeted for a special offer, like this 2,500 bonus Membership Rewards when you spend $100 or more at Staples. You may not have not have a need for $100 worth of office supplies, but do you know what else they sell at Staples? That’s right, gift cards.

Gift cards can make for great gifts to employees, bosses or even family. They can also help you reach your minimum spend much faster while also earning bonus points.
Sign up for Rocketmiles
If you don’t stay in hotels often enough to really rack up your points or if you prefer home share services like Airbnb, consider using Rocketmiles for when you do stay in a hotel. This service allows infrequent hotel visitors to credit their stays to their airline of choice instead of with a hotel brand they may not frequent again in future. TPG Reporter Katherine Fan used this service to help her re-qualify for her coveted Companion Pass last year.

Depending on where you’re trying to earn your loyalty, this could be a helpful tool in earning you more airline points when you may not have otherwise.

Related: Last-minute ways to renew your Companion Pass, Using Rocketmiles to earn points and miles on hotel stays
Q4 bonus categories
For those who have or plan to get a card with rotating bonus categories, Q4 is an awesome time to do it as card issuers typically focus the bonus categories around the holidays towards gift shoppers. Here are all the cards you can earn 5% cash back on your shopping:

Chase Freedom: You can earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases each quarter you activate at numerous department stores or by using ChasePay or PayPal.

Discover it® Cash Back: Enroll every quarter to earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in various categories throughout the year (like Amazon, Walmart and Target the current Q4 2019 quarter bonus categories).

Citi Dividend: You can earn 5% back on up to $2,000 at Best Buy and select department stores.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature Card: You can earn 5% back on up to $2,000 on a pre-selected category ranging from TV, Internet and streaming services, utilities, select clothing stores, cell phone providers, gyms, fast food, ground transport, sporting goods, department stores, furniture stores and movie theaters.

Related: Activate your Q4 categories to earn 5% cash back on upcoming holiday shopping
Bottom line
As you can see, there’s plenty of ways you can get started on earning points and miles so that you enter the year points rich. If you follow these tactics, we’re confident you can reach whatever points goal you set your mind to. So go forth and collect those points!

(Featured photo courtesy of Getty Images.)
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