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Jack McColl’s Ultimate Guide to Credit Card Rewards & Points

When it comes to business credit, having cards with 0% interest is a big bonus in maximizing your credit advantage.

Another big perk is the ability to get rewards and points depending on the card. I’ve talked a lot about which cards are the best to get for both 0% and reward points.

But what exactly does all of that mean?

Why are rewards and points such a big deal?

And how can you use them to your advantage?

In this guide, I’m going to be discussing the high points of getting and using credit card rewards, broken into these different sections:

  • Types of Rewards

  • Airline points

  • Hotel points

  • Car points

  • Strategies for getting the most out of rewards

Let’s get started by looking at what credit card reward points are.

What are the Different Types of Credit Card Rewards?

Many credit card companies will offer incentives for applying for their credit cards using rewards. The benefit is to have you use the card more.

The more you use the card, the more benefits – rewards or points – you get.

Credit Card Reward of Airport Lounge

When people talk about credit card rewards, they’re using talking about 3 different types:

  1. Cash back

  2. Points

  3. Miles

Cash Back Rewards

Cash rewards don’t actually result in physical dollars, but depending on the credit card, you can redeem these rewards as a credit on your account.

This can help reduce the balance on your card but doesn’t actually count as a payment on your account.

Depending on the card, you might be able to cash out the amount as a check or a direct deposit to your bank account; you can even get the reward in the form of a gift card.

Point Rewards

Point rewards are based on how much you spend on your card.

For instance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card gives you one point per dollar that you spend on purchases.

Several cards will give you points towards travel, restaurants, or even streaming services.

Travel Rewards

Travel rewards help to earn miles that can be redeemed towards airline tickets.

The specific number of miles varies between each card, as does how many miles are needed to purchase a ticket.

We’ll talk about travel in the next section, but in most cases, you have to redeem these through a specialized portal offered by the credit card company.

Now that we’ve looked at what rewards and points are, let’s look at how they can be used.

How to Use Airline Points

When people think about credit card points and rewards, airline points (also called airline miles) are probably what they’re thinking about.

Airline miles/points are treated differently by each credit card company and there are different types of points that can be given:

  • Passes

  • Companion

  • Lounges

  • Expedited security

  • Alliances

Let’s break a few of these down.

Airline Passes

An airline pass is a perk usually reserved for employees of an airline, but it allows them to add a friend or family member to that account.

Once on the account, you now have the unlimited ability to travel anywhere on that particular airline for a full year.

But Jack, what if I don’t know anyone that works for an airline?

No problem; you can actually pay an employee to add you to their account. This will place you on a standby status, but if there are seats available, then you have the choice of flying either first-class or coach.

This is a hack I personally use, where I’ve been able to build up relationships with different airline employees so I’m added to their account.

Some of the top airlines that have these passes are:

  • Delta

  • American

  • United

  • Alaska

  • Southwest

My favorites are American and United passes. Both are based on some sort of seat priority – United is based on the seniority of the employee, while American is based on time of check-in (usually 24 hours prior).

If you love to travel or you want to see the world, this is definitely something to invest in.

To find an airline employee, you can utilize:

  • Networking

  • Social media

  • Airports/hotels near airline hubs

Companion tickets

Similar to the above airline pass, companion tickets allow you to bring other people with you on your flight.

The differences are that you don’t need to be an airline employee and they have to be used on the same flight.

These tickets are either offered for free or at a huge discount and are obviously best used for couples, families, or people that travel together a few times a year.

A few credit cards offer the companion ticket as part of their annual membership perk, but you can also earn them when you spend a certain amount or you get certain bonus points.

Airline cards that offer these tickets include:

  • Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard

o 50% off

o Round-trip economy flight

  • British Airways Signature

o Spend $30,000 per year on the card

o Pass on any round-trip award ticket booked within the US

o Additional taxes and fees

  • Barclays Card Lufthansa Miles & More World Elite Mastercard

o Earned when you make your first purchase on the card

o Eligible on economy travel from US to Europe, Africa, Middle East, & Asia

o No ‘basic’ economy

  • Virgin Atlantic World Elite Mastercard

o Spend $25,000 in a given year

o Free companion ticket when original purchaser books an award ticket

And my top credit cards that offer companion tickets are:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa Signature

  • Delta Platinum Amex (both personal and business)

  • Delta Reserve Amex (both personal and business)


Have you ever gone through the airport and wondered what those secret lounges are?

Airport lounges can be in several different areas within an airport, depending on the location and available carriers.

These lounges are just a great place to hang out, eat and drink, use very nice bathrooms, get access to Wi-Fi, etc.

This is a better experience than the general area that most people have access to.

Different airlines have different lounge benefits, while different cards will give you access to one or all of these lounges.

Some of the best cards for lounge access:

  • American Express Platinum

  • American Express Business Platform

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Citi/AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard

  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve AMEX

  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business AMEX

  • United Club Infinite card

Some of these cards, like AMEX, will give you credit to use within their restaurants, while others are airline specific, such as Delta.

This means that you have to be flying on that particular airline in order to get access to their lounge.

In the next post, I’ll get into the different points for hotels and cars, as well as the strategies to use to make the best of your travel.

As always, if this is a helpful post or you want to learn more about credit card travel, sign up and see if Credit Stacking is for you.

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