Are you a college student looking to travel as much as possible without breaking the bank? Getting into the miles & points hobby will allow you to travel for less. And it’s easy to get started!
My name is Meghan and I write for Million Mile Secrets. I’ll show you how to build your credit and start earning miles and points, so you can make your travel dreams a reality. And visit family and friends back home!
Let's jump in and see how you can start traveling today!
Get Started On The Path To Big Travel
Earning and using travel rewards is one of the the best ways to travel for nearly free. In the last 2 years, I've visited multiple countries, including spots like Panama, Spain, France, Belize, and Mexico, all for a fraction of the cost thanks to miles & points.
Scott on our team used one credit card sign-up bonus to stay for free at a top-rated all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Learning a bit about miles and points might be your key to an amazing Spring Break trip.
And it can help you get free flights and hotels in Europe, Asia, and more. Joseph on our team recently used one credit card sign-up bonus to fly round-trip to Hawaii for an epic hiking adventure.
Here’s how you can do it, too – even on a college student's budget!
Start Building Your Credit
The best way to quickly earn miles & points is with credit card sign-up bonuses. Some are worth over $1,000 in travel!
But most rewards earning cards are geared to folks with a longer credit history. So you’ll likely need a decent amount of credit history to get a credit card that earns miles or points.
If you don't have a long credit history -- don't worry. Below I'll share my tips for building one quickly.
You need to show the banks you can be trusted with credit. That means paying your bills on-time and in full every month!
You should NOT get started with miles & points until you can pay off your credit cards each month. Because the interest you’ll pay by carrying a balance negates the value of any miles or points you’ll earn.
That said, if you handle your credit responsibly, it will help to boost your credit score.
Here are a few ways to help build your credit:
And check out Million Mile Secrets' guide to the best credit cards to boost your credit history and score.
Best Cards To Get Once You Have Credit
It's possible to get certain credit cards without a long credit history. For example, you can apply for the Chase Freedom card to start a good relationship with Chase. They have some of the best travel rewards credit cards out there!
Once you establish a good payment history, you can apply for cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve. If that sounds interesting, Check out cards like this here.
There's also the Citi ThankYou Preferred for College Students. And after you show you’re responsible with credit, you can apply for premium cards like Citi Prestige or Citi ThankYou Premier Card.
Tips For Meeting Minimum Spend Requirements
To unlock the valuable sign-up bonus, you'll have to put a certain amount of spending on the card. This can vary from $500 to $5,000+. Usually you have 3 months. And if you don't normally spend that much, we have tricks to help -- like making payments on tuition, rent, and your phone.
In fact, one of our readers (who described herself as having a modest salary) just shared her story and pictures with us of her $30,000+ trip to Asia that only cost her $500 out of pocket. She stayed at luxury hotels too!
Check out the Million Mile Secrets guide to 40+ ways to complete the minimum spending on your new cards.
Also, consider using your cards for ALL of your spending:
Put your spending on one of your credit cards instead of using cash or debit cards. Just make sure you can pay them in full at the end of each billing cycle!
If you live off-campus, consider paying your rent with a credit card through services like Plastiq.
Just keep in mind, you’ll pay a fee. So, this could be a good option to meet a card's minimum spending requirements. But it may NOT be the best strategy for regular rent payments.
It's important to run the numbers to make sure it’s worth it!
Paying Tuition With A Credit Card
If you attend a school that accepts credit cards for tuition, use a travel rewards or cash back-earning credit card!
Do the math if there are any fees involved, though. Because depending on how you want to use your miles, it may not be worth it to pay a fee to earn them.
Travel Within The US & Abroad Using Miles
Ready to learn more about the best ways to use the travel rewards you earn? Check out Million Mile Secrets' step-by-step guides. You'll find in-depth information about airline and hotel programs, setting travel goals, and trip reports.
And be sure to sign-up for our newsletter. It’s the best way to ensure you don’t miss out on amazing flight deals, big limited-time credit card sign-up bonuses, and any other important miles & points news!
Subscribers get exclusive access to benefits like miles & points e-courses sent to your inbox and chances to win airline miles & hotel points every week. 😉
The easiest way to make your travel dreams a reality (even on a college student's budget!) is to earn valuable sign-up bonuses with miles, points, and cash back-earning credit cards.
There are lots of great rewards credit cards college students can get to start building a credit history and developing relationships with banks.
Check out the Million Mile Secrets Beginner's Guide for other tips and tricks before you get started!
The key is to use your credit wisely. Along with your education, it’s one of your most valuable assets!
Have you ever travel hacked with credit cards before?
Meghan Hunter is a miles & points addict, writes for Million Mile Secrets, and has used travel rewards to go from one side of the globe to the other. Her travels have taken her to nearly all of South and Central America, including the Galapagos, and to other bucket-list destinations like the Seychelles, Italy, France, Thailand, and Hawaii.