Aaargh Mateys! Are you tired of being plundered for your gold and silver? Do you want to fight back against the evil mercenaries out there trying to steal our money sacks? Well, it’s time to join The Point Pirate’s crew. Like they say, we can’t do anything about the direction of the wind but we can trim our sails and steer our ship where ever we want to go. You don’t have to be the prettiest wench or the toughest old salt to sail with us, just follow a few simple rules of financial stability and The Points Pirate will teach you how to travel the 7 seas for almost free.
Rule #1 – No deadbeats allowed on this ship. You’ve got to be working and paying your bills. Debt and credit are a double-edged cutlass, it can slice you open and spill your guts on the deck or you can use the other side of the blade to plunder and score your own booty. You might need to change your way of thinking. Maybe when you were a wee lad or lass your parents told you that credit cards were bad or that you should only have one of them. Maybe you like using cash because it’s comfortable and easy to keep track of how much you have and how much you’re spending. Times have changed! We’ve got to be smarter than the average sailor to be successful out here on the high seas. Reduce your debt, keep at least a small emergency nest egg. PAY YOUR CREDIT CARD BILLS OFF COMPLETELY EVERY MONTH. That’s in capital letters because it’s the most important part of being a successful Points Pirate. The best rewards cards have really high interest rates and you don’t ever, ever want to pay interest. Let your credit card statement close first, that way the amount shows up on your credit report which helps your credit score, then pay off the statement balance ONLY before the due date. Never use a debit card, they are for scallywags. When the thieves skim your debit card, that’s YOUR money being stolen. When the thieves skim your credit card, it’s THE BANKS money being stolen.
Rule #2 – Put EVERYTHING on your credit card. All of your expenses. Every single one you possibly can. Even the $.99 small fries order. Don’t leave any points behind on the table. Cash is only for drugs and hookers (that’s a joke for you humorless landlubbers). Plan your big expenses in advance whenever possible and get a new card so you can use the expense to meet the sign up bonus spending requirement. We have even talked vendors that don’t take credit cards into starting to take cards (square app is easy for small business owners) just so we could make a minimum spend on a new credit card. Use the right card for the right spend. As you learn more you’ll see that you want one card for dining out, but you’ll buy your gas with a different card. It’s all about maximizing the rewards for every dollar you spend. Electric bill, water, sewer, phone, etc. Never write checks, always use your card.
Rule #3 – Partner up if at all possible. It takes a crew to sail a ship. Teamwork is critical. Enlist your spouse into this endeavor. Use your family and friends to help. Think of all the spending running through your entire household budget. That’s a lot of points! Take advantage of it. Have a business? Awesome, that’s a whole ‘nother set of credit cards and spending to use. Always thought about starting a small side business? Now’s the time! Cards like the Chase Ink Business Preferred offer great perks like 6% back on internet, cell phone spending, and even includes cell phone insurance when you pay your cell phone bill with the card.
Rule #4 – Always be thinking about how you can stack your rewards. Use shopping portals for all your online shopping where you can get huge rewards on top of your normal credit card spending rewards. Websites like http://evreward.com/store are great for finding those shopping portals. Use dining rewards programs for your favorite airlines to get miles for dining out on top of your regular rewards. https://www.rewardsnetwork.com/earn/ By choosing to eat at restaurants in the network we now get over 12% back when we eat at our favorite local restaurant ( 3 Chase UR points at $.021 each plus 5 Delta miles at $.012 each per dollar spent). A great dining card is the Chase Saphire Preferred Card. Plus your getting those rewards back on the tip too, so be kind to your servers, we try to be good Pirates not evil ones.
Rule #5 – Sign up for all of the hotel and airline reward programs. At least the ones you will be flying and staying at. That way every flight you take and pay for, every hotel you stay at and pay for will be earning you points/miles. Plus you’ll need to be a member to transfer your other valuable points to so that you can get those free flights and free hotel stays that we are working towards. Once you’re a member than you can start making progress toward elite status which can significantly add value to your free vacations. Some credit cards come with automatic status, some include a free checked bag like the Delta American Express card. Some programs even count your free stays toward the next status level, so we’ve moved up just from redeeming points for free stays. Now that’s plundering! Status can come with perks like free upgrades, free water, free breakfast, faster wi-fi, etc.
Rule #6 – Get the right credit cards in the right order. This can be tricky. It takes a lot of research and can be different for everybody depending on their circumstances, budget, and credit. In general, Chase has the best reward credit cards but they have a 5/24 rule meaning that you cannot get approved for more than 5 credit cards in a 24 month period or they will reject your application. I recommend making your first card the Chase Saphire Preferred which you can apply for through this referral link here.