Credit Cards The Basics

Running With Miles 101

Welcome to Running With Miles 101! A few people have mentioned to me recently how they enjoy reading the blog and are able to learn some things from it but at the same time get lost sometimes with the different things I mention. I do NOT want people to get lost! People that know me know that I love all things that have to do with numbers and I love to crunch numbers. That means I can get on a roll when I am talking about points/miles accrual! The same goes for running real miles as well. My running partners who have done ultras with me know I will be giving pace breakdowns and “what-if” pace scenarios the whole time. 🙂

Anyway, I have covered a lot of the basics before, but things change so often and we have a lot of new readers now so I wanted to revisit some of the basics by taking you through step-by-step. There are many travel blogs and all of them have a particular group that benefits from them – there are newbie blogs, road-warrior blogs, special interest blogs, travel hacking blogs – you name it, they are out there. I realize this blog is somewhat different since it addresses a specific nature of using the miles (while still trying to be relevant to non-runners) and those that read it run the spectrum from travel newbies to veteran road-warriors. So, those of you veterans, feel free to add your expertise along the way of this series. I hope everyone will find it useful!

We will cover applying for one card to one airline and one card for one hotel chain. After we cover both of those and how to do it for the best success with your applications, we will look at how to redeem them. The point with this is to help you go from having no points/miles and not being in the game yet to earning enough with 2 simple applications that allow you to go someplace for free.

Step 1

Before you begin signing up for credit cards, it is best to have a sense of what your credit looks like. You should use one of the free trials available from credit checking services so that you know where you stand.

  • Credit Sesame – Free Credit Score
  • Credit Karma – Free Credit Information
  • Credit Secure – 3 Credit Bureau Reporting and Detailed Report ($1 for the first 30 days, $14.99 per month after)
  • Annual Credit Report – Your state gives you a free credit report each year (not a score but an overall report of your credit details)
  • Understanding Credit Scores – A previous blog post detailing the facts that make up your credit score

Step 2

I have included two cards here. The first would be the primary card for our step-by-step instructions. If you already have a few credit cards and a good credit score, you will want to apply for the first card (the Chase Sapphire Preferred). If you only have 1 or 2 cards or you have not had your cards all that long, you may want to skip the Chase card and apply instead of the secondary card (the Delta Skymiles American Express Gold card). If you want to be on the more cautious side of getting approved, go with the Delta card. If you feel that you are in a good position to make the minimum spending for the Chase card and you have a fairly good credit score, go for the Chase card.

Primary Application – Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This is one of the premier point credit cards. It does require a minimum of $5,000 credit line, so you should only apply for this card if you have a decent score (something over the high 600s). The bonus offer is 40,000 Ultimate Reward Points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. They can be transferred to a multitude of travel partners (see the link below for the details).

  • Details about this card (note that the bonus mentioned in the post refers to the old bonus amount) – Link
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Chase Visa Application – Link (I do not receive a commission for this card)

Secondary Application – If you do not have that high of a credit score or are not comfortable with a spending threshold of that amount ($3,000 in 3 months), try the American Express Delta Skymiles Gold card. It gives you 30,000 Skymiles after spending $500 in the first 3 months.

  • Details about this card –
  • American Express Gold Delta Skymiles –  (I receive a commission if you are approved using this link)

Make sure that you do not apply for both of these cards together (as in, if you are denied on the first one, you apply for the other on the same day). This is taking things easily and making sure that we begin racking up points/miles in an efficient fashion. I do not want you to feel overextended so we will do a little at a time. Next installment will be what to do with your application after you have submitted it followed by applying for hotel cards.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.