How I Earned Over 100,000 Points In My First Year

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Allow me to introduce myself…

My name is McKay, and I started as an intern with Daily Drop back in September 2022. I upgraded to the fancier title of “Content Specialist” about a month ago after graduating college in December. Nice to meet y’all! 👋

Today, I’m going to explain how I went from 0-100 in the world of miles and points. 

Maybe you’re new to this side of travel? Maybe you’re in college or a fresh grad like me?

Or maybe you’ve been reading Daily Drop for a year and have been too overwhelmed to get started? 

Well, friend — that was me only a year ago.

And now…

I’m planning a three-week trip to the U.K. for essentially nothing!

So here’s my personal timeline, some of my beginner strategies, and the overall moral of the story… Let’s get into it!

My Personal Timeline

  • July 2023: Literal credit virgin

  • Aug. 2023: Applied for the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select®
    World Elite Mastercard®. Was initially denied. Called and requested a reconsideration. Pleaded my case. Was accepted. 👊

  • Nov. 2023: Within three months, met the $3,000 minimum spend and earned my first welcome offer of 50,000 AA points with a credit score of 720.

  • Jan. 2024: Credit score of 736. Slowly but surely… These things take time.

  • (Also) Jan. 2024: Applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and was initially denied. Called for reconsideration and the application was approved. Maybe I should’ve gone to law school 🤷‍♀️

    Side note: The Sapphire Preferred was my goal from the beginning, mainly because of their massive transfer partners list.

  • Feb. 23, 2024: Credit score dropped to 726 (but not to worry, these things are normal) AND it was worth it because…

    I was now the proud owner of the coveted CSP only a year after having my very first credit card!

    One. year.

  • Later in Feb. 2024: Same credit score. Applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card ...and was initially denied. Called for re-consideration. Was still denied. 😎 

    This makes total sense. Chase had given me a $5,000 line of credit just a month ago... I just reeaaaallly wanted that Companion Pass. But I digress.

Phewwww… There you have it. 

If you read that whole timeline, you’re a real one.

So in less than a year, I am sitting on 57,712 AAdvantage points and 67,216 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a total of 124,928 points to use at my pleasure. 

Actual video of me celebrating with my brand-spanking new travel points

Coming from a newbie, I should advise you to take my advice with a grain of salt.

These are just the things that worked for me (but hopefully, they could work for you, too).

Basic Beginner Strategies

  1. Plan your credit card application around large expenses. And, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    For instance, I planned my first credit card around the time I moved apartments, which naturally came with expenses. And, we all have friends out there who aren’t into miles and points.

    Moment of silence for sympathy…

    ….moving on.

    If you can’t think of ways to reach that $3,000 limit, ask your friends and family to help you reach your minimum spend.

    It might feel weird at first, but most people don’t have a problem with it, especially with tech like Venmo and Zelle.

    It’s super easy for someone to attach your card to their Amazon account to help you chip away at those expenses (ahem… thanks Mom). ❤️ 

  2. When you’re denied a credit card, you should always call and plead your case.

    This is especially true if it’s your first time having a credit card, or if you don’t have multiple open accounts. More often than not, these companies want to help you get started.

    You just need to find someone willing to take a chance. 

  3. Be intentional with your spending.

    This one feels obvious, but this is where soooo many people miss out on free points.

    Know what cards have the best points back on gas, and use that card (and ONLY that card for gas).

    Know what cards earn the best points on groceries and use that card for groceries…

    You get the point.

    I actually keep a list on my phone of which card to use for each purchase. That way, if I’m out and can’t remember, I’ll just check my notes. 

  4. Get creative with your points earnings.

    Guys… PLEASE use online shopping portals when you can. They are seriously so awesome. Drink the Kool-Aid.

    Screenshot showing the homepage of Chase's shopping portal

    And, find random ways to earn points like MilesforOpinions.

    Anytime I have a free moment (so when I’m not working, writing, watching Game of Thrones, or perusing the NYC streets looking for a $7 almond croissant)…

    I’m taking surveys.

    MilesforOpinions basically rewards AA points for taking like 5-minute surveys. Is it a lot of points?

    No. But do they add up over time?


    Screenshot of Miles for Opinions to earn AA miles

    Trust me… There are tons of weird side gigs like this that will help you reach your miles and points goal.

    And that brings me to my last point…

  5. Have a goal/trip planned and decide how many points you need to take that trip.

    For example, my husband and I have been wanting to take a Scotland, Wales, and Ireland trip for a while.

    So, at the beginning of this whole miles and points thing, I planned out about how many points it would take for flights, accommodation, etc.

    By doing this, you’ll feel more motivated to do things like use shopping portals, take random surveys, and whatever else to reach your goal. 

Moral of the Story

The moral of the story is — have fun with it! 

And, don’t be afraid to make mistakes or ask questions (shameless plug for our Facebook group, the Daily Drop Lounge, for all your community support).

When I signed up for my first card, there were some shipping delays. Because of this, my “3-month spending period,” my time was cut short by almost a month.

Not good.

So, I called Citi, explained the situation, and they were more than willing to offer a short extension.

Always call. The worst they can say is “no,” but more often than not, I’ve encountered people who want to help.

The world of miles and points can be intimidating at times, but tons of people take advantage of these deals daily…

So why not you???

Two resources that changed the game for me were:

  1. Miles and Points 101, by Nate and Mike

  2. Our new free Miles and Points course, by Megan

Shameless plug, I know.

But, these articles/courses break down everything from cards and credit scores to earning and redeeming, all of which were once big, scary words. 

So for all the newbies out there — there is never a better time to start than now. 😊

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