Reader Question – How to Maximize Miles & Points

Delta jets at DCA

A member of my Facebook Group asked:

“We use AMEX for 90+% of all charges, but languishing with the green card. What would you recommend to maximize our mileage/points accumulation, as we intend to travel on Delta and/or from Atlanta fairly frequently?”

There are several ways to approach this question. The standard points and miles answer is to check your 5/24 status and start with Chase, but it’s not always so clear-cut. This reader has specific goals in mind related to travel from Atlanta and using Delta.

This was my response:
Unless you’re going for status with Delta, I wouldn’t bother with the Delta Amex Reserve as it’s $550 a year and the companion ticket isn’t always easy to use. The Amex Platinum has a huge bonus right now and even though it’s $695/year, I wrote about how it’s fairly easy to recoup that fee and then some. Is Amex Platinum Worth the Annual Fee? You get sky club access when flying Delta and other lounge access as well. Plus 5x on all airline spend. Amex points are better to earn than SkyMiles as they will give you more flexibility for international trips. For everyday spend, I would pair with an Amex Gold (4x on restaurants and groceries) and possibly an Amex Everyday Preferred if you and authorized users will spend at least 30 transactions per month (you’ll get 1.5x on all spend that way plus even more on groceries and gas). I say all this assuming you have a decent number of points built up already with your green card (which I would keep for its own bonus categories as well). If you want to start with Chase and you’re under 5/24, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has a great sign up bonus now as well. But I’m trying to keep it simple for you.

Sometimes it makes sense to keep things simple. Of course, if he is going for status with Delta and can spend a lot, then a Delta Reserve card or two (business and/or personal) might make sense so that he can spend for some bonus MQMs and hit the $25k waiver (or even $250k waiver) for Delta status. If he just wants to earn more points and miles from everyday spend and travel spend, keep the Amex Green and add the Amex Platinum & Gold to maximize points earned.

There is usually not a ‘one-size fits all’ way to earn points and miles. Keep that in mind whether you are just starting out or you have been racking up points and miles for years. Don’t give in to the latest trend (or sign-up bonus) just because everyone else is doing it.

If you enjoyed this post (or have questions), let me know in the comments or send me an email at emptynestermiles@gmail.com. If you are thinking about opening a new credit card, please use one of my links.

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