We periodically get a question from readers: “Which points or miles should I collect if I don’t travel often?”

No single answer is best for everyone. For example, a cash-back rewards card might be best if you don’t travel much at all. However, if you have a particular airline or hotel loyalty program you strongly prefer, that will need to be considered.

For ease, I’ll assume you want to earn points and miles instead of cash-back rewards. With this assumption out of the way, let’s dive into some topics to help you decide which points and miles to collect.

Benefits of points and miles

If you’re reading this article, you may already know the benefits of points and miles. You can usually earn points and miles on your travel by signing up for loyalty programs and entering your loyalty number for the associated program when you book hotels, flights and car rental bookings.

These points are often an included perk of booking directly with a hotel program, renting a car or taking a flight. You can use points and miles to save on future travel, which may let you travel more frequently or comfortably.

There are multiple aspects to consider when deciding which points and miles to earn if you don’t travel frequently. First, let’s consider earning points and miles with one or more loyalty programs you like through rewards credit cards.

Travel rewards credit cards

If you don’t travel frequently, you may struggle to accrue enough rewards to make a redemption if you only earn rewards through your travel. This is where travel rewards credit cards can help.


If you have a few loyalty programs you prefer when you travel, consider getting a cobranded card with one or more of these programs, such as United MileagePlus for flights, World of Hyatt for hotels and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards for rental cars.

In this case, you might benefit from getting the United℠ Explorer Card or the World of Hyatt Credit Card to earn more rewards in a loyalty program you already use. Plus, both cards offer valuable perks to even occasional travelers. For example, the United Explorer card would give you and a companion a first checked bag free when flying United, and the World of Hyatt card would give you complimentary Discoverist status.

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Here are links to our guides about the airline credit cards that are best depending on which airline you prefer:

Likewise, here are links to our guides about the hotel credit cards that are best based on your preferred program:

These cobranded cards help you earn rewards with a specific loyalty program. But, as we’ll discuss in the next section, infrequent travelers may also benefit from earning transferable points.

Related: The best credit cards to reach elite status

Why you should earn transferable points

Earning transferable points can unlock redemptions with more hotel and airline loyalty programs.

Earlier in this story, we considered someone who prefers to fly with United, stay with Hyatt and rent cars with Hertz. Chase Ultimate Rewards might be the perfect transferable points currency for this person since you can transfer Chase points to United MileagePlus and World of Hyatt — among other airline and hotel loyalty programs.

If you don’t know which transferable points currency would be best for you, check out our guide to credit card transfer partners. The guide provides useful tables showing which loyalty programs are transfer partners of each transferable currency. The simplest approach is determining which transferable currency transfers to most programs you use or already have points or miles with.

Related: How to transfer credit card rewards to partner programs


However, a more complicated approach is to also consider programs through which you can book United, Delta and American flights (often for lower rates than the operating airline’s loyalty program would charge). See our domestic award sweet spots post if you want to take your flight redemptions to the next level, even as an infrequent traveler.

If you’ve found a transferable currency you think would be best for you, here are our guides for each program:

Transferable points add complexity over simply earning airline miles or hotel points on credit card purchases. However, transferable points are worth more than other rewards because you can access redemptions with multiple programs instead of just one.

Related: 10 no-annual-fee credit cards that earn transferable points

Bottom line

As you can see, the best rewards to collect if you don’t travel frequently depends on your preferences when you do travel and how simple or complicated you want to make your strategy.

Earning transferable points can provide higher value than hotel points or airline miles simply because you have options when it comes time to redeem. For example, there’s an argument to be made that Delta flyers should have a Membership Rewards card instead of (or in addition to) a Delta credit card.

But in the end, the best points or miles to earn as an infrequent traveler also depend on the rewards you’ll use. If transferable rewards seem too complicated, getting a cobranded hotel or airline credit card with your favorite program may be best.


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