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This is the ninth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flier miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go. Previously Best Practices for Your Rewards Card Applications.

Credit cards are the way you will earn the majority of your miles. Credit cards are a free way to get the miles necessary to be able to travel anywhere you want for just the cost of the taxes of an award ticket.

But applying for a credit card requires careful consideration.

Make sure you’ve read all of Free First Class Next Month up to this point before jumping on these offers. Definitely read:

Best Practices for Your Rewards Card Applications

Why I Open Business Credit Cards

And absolutely positively don’t apply for credit cards if they cause you to spend beyond your means, if you can’t pay them in full each month, or you are applying for a major loan in the near future.

Your credit is very valuable and your responsibility. Read the terms and conditions of the offers carefully, and consult a financial professional if necessary. Most people in this hobby are using credit to their advantage to take extra and more luxurious trips. But if you don’t stay on top of your cards and balances, they will stay on top of you.

The Best Two Cards

I recommend beginners start with two cards that are very different: the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is awesome because its sign up bonus is worth $400on any flights on ay airline any time without blackouts. And the card earns 2.22% in travel rewards on all purchases without limit that can also be used on any flight, any time.

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that’s enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
  • Chip card technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
  • 0% introductory APR for 12 months for each Balance Transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, currently 16.24% or 20.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Complimentary online FICO® Credit Score access for Barclaycard Arrival cardmembers

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is awesome because it comes with 40,000 Ultimate Rewards as a sign up bonus. Ultimate Rewards are a very valuable transferable point that can be transferred 1:1 to United, British Airways, Korean, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.  If there’s award space out there, you can usually get it with a smart Ultimate Rewards transfer. Plus the card earns Ultimate Rewards on all purchases and double Ultimate Rewards on travel and dining.

Application Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred

These two cards allow beginners to earn two very different types of points. They allow beginners to establish relationships with Chase and Barclay’s, to work on multiple minimum spending requirements at once, and to dip their toes into the rewards waters to see whether rewards cards are right for them.

Other Cards

There are a ton of other great cards. I just don’t recommend beginners bite off more than they can chew on their first applications. Click here to see a bigger list of the Best Current Card Offers.


If you have one of the cards listed here and want a substitute recommendation or you have a specific trip in mind and want a suggestion for the right card for the trip, I offer Free Credit Card Consultations.

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.

Just getting started in the world of points and miles? The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best card for you to start with.

With a bonus of 60,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months, 5x points on travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal and 3x points on restaurants, streaming services, and online groceries (excluding Target, Walmart, and wholesale clubs), this card truly cannot be beat for getting started!

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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