Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Advertiser Disclosure: Travel Freedom has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Freedom and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.
Visit All Hawaiian Islands

To get started on your travel freedom journey, there are a few important things you’ll need to do.  This will involve a bit of research and preparation so that you are confident and efficient in your plan of attack.  Make sure you do these before diving in, so that you do this the right way.  Remember, your credit is important in life, so don’t use it for travel points and miles if you aren’t in the right place to do so.  

 

CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom 1

First of all, You’ll want to go check your credit score if you don’t already know what it is.  Credit Sesame is a good way to check your approximate score for free.  If your score is around 700, you’re in good shape to use your credit to earn thousands or millions of miles.  Also be sure that you are in a good place personally to use your credit for points and miles.  As I’ve said before, if you’re looking to take out a large loan in the near future, it is not a good time to apply for any credit cards.

 

CREATE A POINTS AND MILES WALLET

5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom 2Through your journey with Travel Freedom, you will be using many different types of miles and points from an array of service providers.  You may have miles with five different airlines, two banks, and 3 hotel groups at any given time.  You’ll want a way to organize these miles and points as well as the usernames and passwords used for each login.  The easiest way I’ve found to keep track of them all is to aggregate them all in one place – Award Wallet.  Here, you will create your own account, where you’ll input all of your account numbers so your logins, balances and expiration dates will be tracked.  

Their FREE version is fine to begin with, but as you have more accounts you may be interested in paying for their upgraded account that has a few more features.  If you will be using points and miles to travel along with your significant other, you will both want to make an account, and then link the two so you can see both while logged in.

 

REVIEW YOUR MONTHLY SPENDING BUDGET

Ok, now that you know your credit is in a good place, and you have a wallet to keep track of all your points and miles you’ll be accumulating, you’ll need to look at your monthly spending.  You’ll want to verify how much you spend that can be put on a new credit card per month.  This is because most credit card introductory bonuses are given to you after you spend a certain amount of money within the first few months of having the card.  You will need to know how much 5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom 3spend you’re able to put on the card so that you know if you can meet the minimum spend to release your introductory bonus.  

Once you know how much you spend monthly, you can calculate whether or not you can reach the introductory bonus of each card.  There are ways to get extra spend, to up this level if needed, which I will get into in another blog post.  A great resource to learn about meeting minimum spending limits, is at The Frequent Miler, travel blog.  Now you know what credit cards you can afford to meet the minimum spend for your bonus.

 

5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom 4PLAN WHERE YOU WANT TO VACATION FIRST

At this point, you could jump in and apply for the best credit card offer you can find, but I don’t believe that’s the best option.  I made the mistake of doing this and wish I had started out slightly different.  Before applying for anything, MAKE A PLAN.  Where do you want to travel to?  Do you want to get a flight with miles, or do you want to book a free hotel with points.  

You have some research and decisions ahead of you.  Once you find the location you’d like to travel to, you’ll need to research what airlines fly between your home airport and your destination.  Then which of those airlines has the lowest price in terms of miles to fly between the two.  Or, if you would rather get free hotel rooms during your stay, you’ll need to know what hotels are in the area and of those, which ones have a rewards program (most do!).  

Google will be your friend in this research, but here are a few other resources from our friends over at Million Mile Secrets – another travel blog:

Airline Award Charts

Hotel Award Charts

How to get to _______ – Guides

 

CHOOSE A CREDIT CARD OR CARDS5 Steps to Create Your Own Travel Freedom 5

Ok, final step!  Depending on all the research you’ve done in the above tasks, find a credit card or multiple credit cards that fit your travel plan.  There are credit cards that offer points and miles directly with hotels and airlines, and there are credit cards that offer their own points system.  Some of these bank reward systems such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Member Rewards, offer the ability to transfer to a multitude of airlines and hotels.  These are my favorite types of credit card bonuses because of the versatility of the points.  Remember, not all points are valued equally.  Some may be better for one vacation and another may be better for your next vacation.  

 

You’re so close to your first vacation using points and miles, you can probably smell it!  Let me know how it’s going.  I’m here to help you!

 

PS: If you’re interested in traveling more often or more luxuriously, check out our FREE 5-DAY MINI COURSE.

About Ryan

Ryan loves to travel. He learned the power of using points and miles for travel way back in 2012 and hasn't looked back. Ryan's favorite place to travel is to Hawaii, where he's explored each of the main islands. Travel has changed his life for the better and opened him up to new experiences!

Advertiser Disclosure: Travel Freedom has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel Freedom and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.