Raise your hand if you like calling credit card companies. Seeing no hands, let me give you some tips to avoid a few calls.

If you’re a beginner to the miles-collecting game, signing up for airline and hotel loyalty programs before you apply for that program’s credit card can save you a few calls to the credit card companies.

Let me give an example.

When I applied for the Citi Hilton Reserve to get two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide plus free Gold status, I did not have a Hilton HHonors account.

When you apply for a co-branded card, you are prompted to give your account number on the credit card application, so that your points or free nights post to your account.

If you don’t have an account, you are told to leave the space on the application blank. A Hilton account will be created for you upon approval for the Citi Hilton Reserve if you leave the Hilton account number question blank.

The problem is that you don’t know what that account number is or how to access it, so you can’t use your miles or points.

When I reached my minimum spending requirement, I wanted to confirm that my nights had posted… but I had no account to log in to.

I called Citi, the bank that issues the Hilton Reserve card, and asked them what my Hilton loyalty program account number was–basically, what account were they depositing the nights and points I was earning into? They gave me the number, and I was able to go online to hilton.com and set up the rest of my account information.

I find it’s easier to call the bank than the airline or hotel. I also got the Frontier Airlines credit card from Barclay’s without having a Frontier account. When I called Frontier to get my account number, the agent couldn’t find it. But Barclay’s had no problem giving me my Frontier account number. It makes sense that the banks have easy access to your account number since they are depositing your miles or points earned directly into your airline or hotel account.

But to save yourself a call to anyone, take two minutes and sign up for the relevant hotel or airline program before applying for its co-branded card. Here are a list of some of the major airlines and hotels with links to their loyalty program’s sign up page.


AirTran (recently bought by Southwest, so joining unlocks a trick with Southwest points)

American Airlines

British Airways

Delta Airlines

Frontier Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines (if you had a Continental Onepass account, United automatically rolled that into a Mileage Plus account)

US Airways


Club Carlson




Priority Club


Once you’ve signed up for an account, save yourself the hassle of having to keep track of all your login information by putting it in AwardWallet, which is a service that helps you keep track of the miles and points you have collected in each program.

When you apply for a credit card that is co-branded with an airline or hotel, put your newly created account number in the blank that asks for it. Now you know where your points, nights, or miles are being deposited from your credit cards without having to make a phone call.

By the way…

Signing up for loyalty programs before applying for the relevant credit card is only pertinent for cards that are co-branded with an airline or hotel. You do not need to worry about signing up for a program if you have a credit cart that earns bank points, such as the American Express Platinum card that earns Membership Awards or the Chase Sapphire Preferred that earns Ultimate Awards. As these points are held in your account at the issuing bank, you do not need to set up an additional account for them to be transferred to.


Sign up for airline and hotel loyalty programs before you apply for co-branded credit cards. It only takes a few minutes to sign up for them all and will save you from having to call all of your credit card companies.

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