*Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
If you’re here reading this article, chances are there’s probably a pair of you looking to learn how you both can benefit the most in the miles and points world. I’m talking about couples, families, friends, (strangers? 🤔).
What if I told you that by working together as a team of two or three (or four or five or six plus), you could score free or significantly discounted flights and hotels to a dream destination?
…and that your seats on those flights could be in the oh-so-coveted business class. And that your hotel could be a 5-star resort 😱
It seems too good to be true, right? But the greatest news EVER is that it’s not!
In the miles and points world, we like to call the idea of maximizing this travel currency via card referrals as “two-player mode.” Or three-player, four-player, fi— you get the idea.
If you’re eager to learn how to play, keep reading 😎
Two-Player Mode is the Mario Kart of Travel Rewards and Redemptions
If you’re an 80s or 90s baby, then you should know the famous Nintendo 64 Mario Kart video game that I speak of. If you don’t, then you should stop reading this and go launch yourself off the Rainbow Road course that still gives me anxiety 20 years later.
ANYWAY. In my self-professed, Nintendo-loving, points and miles world, I often refer to the idea of “playing” with another cardholder as two-player mode, which I mentioned earlier.
We’ll aptly call this 2P, 3P, 4P, etc. just for extra giggles. But we do actually use these terms in real life.
And just like any good game of Mario Kart is best enjoyed with two, three, or four players, so is the travel credit card world.
So, how do you play the game? Well, first you’ll have to source out a vintage Nintendo 64…
Oh, you meant the credit card thing.
A big part of it comes down to referring others to get their own travel credit card in order to earn additional bonus points and miles from these referrals. You then work together as a team (like Toad 🍄 and Yoshi 🐢) to build your points and miles empire.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Earning and Burning as a Pair
We’re going to go through some specific scenarios here to detail how signing up for travel credit cards as a pair (or more) will maximize the perks you can get out of them.
I’m going to use the example of a couple doing this whole process, but remember, your P2 (or P3) can be anyone.
This card is stuffed full of perks and benefits — we’re talking as many perks as there were banana peels and tortoise shells in Mario Kart. Except wiping out from a tortoise shell hurling through the air really wasn’t perky at all.
Some of these actual perks include car rental and travel accident insurance, one-year-long discounts with DoorDash (if activated by 12/31/24), 5x points on travel purchases made through Chase, 3x points on dining, and 2x points on all other travel purchases.
Plus, the card has no foreign transaction fees and will only cost you $95 for its annual fee. I probably spent more than $95 a year as a child buying Nintendo games.
Double plus, Chase is known for having some of the best transfer partners (e.g. Emirates, Singapore Airlines, United, Marriott, and Hyatt… just to name a few).
Okay, you’ve got the card, now get to work meeting that minimum spending requirement (which is usually around a few thousand dollars within the first few months depending on the current deal).
Put everything on that card.
We’re talking everything from groceries, to gas, to that zen kitty litter box (what?). Any purchases you would normally be making anyway (but maybe just using a debit card for), swap it for your travel credit card.
Let’s say you made purchases on a mix of dining (3x points), and other everyday purchases (1x points) for a total of 10,000 points earned.
Once you hit your spending limit, reign it in and stop spending.
Here’s what you’ve earned:
60,000-ish miles welcome bonus, depending on current welcome offer, and after meeting your spending requirement
10,000 additional miles (from everyday purchases)
Total earned: 70,000 miles
Those of us who are really into this miles and points thing are, like, really into it.
If you’ve memorized reward charts and know things off the top of your head like which cards earn 3x points on this, and 2x points on that… then you’re one of us.
But not everyone is into it. It’s complex, and it’s even overwhelming at times. It can get exhausting keeping up with the newest and greatest deals and knowing how to best maximize your different cards.
But the value of having a Luigi or Princess Peach to your Mario is worth the effort! Especially if you help your designated P2 out who may be less than thrilled (but ask them if they still aren’t thrilled once you’ve booked them a free trip to the Maldives using your pooled points 😏).
Here are some tips to starting the journey as P1 and P2, ground pounding their way over the Whomp minions of Bowser, hand-in-hand together ❤️
Limit New Credit Card Apps
Resist the temptation to sign up for all the cards, all the time. You’re more likely to have your P2’s credit score drop by having multiple, big-hit inquiries close together. And, you’ll probably end up with some card app’s rejected.
Limit their credit card applications to every six months or so, or hold out until you see a mega deal on a card that is out of the norm.
By pacing yourself (via your P2), you’ll both reap the best rewards down the road. Plus, your P2 will have a chance to make purchases organically over time to rack up those points.
Introduce Them to Online Shopping Portals
I can’t remember the last time I went into a physical store to buy something.
I told a teenager not long ago that we used to drive to a store to rent videos for a night, and after she lifted her jaw off of the floor, I felt myself crumble into ancient dust at the steps of an abandoned Blockbuster.
ANYWAY. My point is, is that you can buy literally anything online. We all do it, every day.
Online shopping portals are a great resource for maximizing points from purchases you would make online anyway. By going to the retailer’s site via the shopping portal, you and your P2 could be rolling in the bonus points depending on what deals are available.
Each reward program usually has its own shopping portal, like you can see with United’s below.
Pool Your Rewards
The point of working together as a team is to maximize your joint benefits. One way to do this is to pool your points together into one account. This makes sense if you’re trying to book flights or hotels and need the larger, total amount of points in one place.
Some programs will even let you join your accounts without any sort of fee, and one of those programs happens to be Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Refer, Refer, Refer
Alright, your soon-to-be P2 is on board with this whole thing. But don’t have them just sign up on their own, refer them with your own code.
By doing this, you’ll get a fat stack of bonus points for the referral on top of your P2 hitting their own welcome bonus.
Let’s walk through the referral process.
You know the saying, “two is better than one”? Well, it definitely applies here.
Once you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, you’ll receive a personal referral link that you can send to anyone.
If someone uses your link to sign up for the card, you’ll get 15,000 miles as the referral bonus if they’re approved for the card 🎉
Send that referral link straight to your P2. Go do it!
They’ll go through the same process (e.g. reach the minimum spend on purchases they would already be making, score the welcome bonus, and add the extra miles spent to your joint total).
Here’s what your P2 earned:
60,000-ish miles welcome bonus, depending on current offer (and after meeting your spending requirement)
10,000 additional miles (from additional spending)
Total earned: 70,000 miles
And here’s your new total after referring your partner:
70,000 miles + 15,000 referral miles = 85,000 miles
The two of you together now have 155,000 miles.
Simply combine your miles by transferring them into one of your accounts (by calling the number on the back of your card), so you’ll have that lump sum in one place.
Did I mention that these 155,000 miles are worth $1,937.5 in free travel?! That’s because Chase Sapphire Preferred points are valued around 1.25 cents a piece 👌
Hold up. You want me to sign up for a second credit card? Well, yes...
However, if you’re not comfortable with that, then make the best decision for yourself. We’re simply helping you be most informed about how to maximize these travel hacking skills.
Pro Tip: Remember, wait at least 90 days (if not longer) after signing up for your first card before you sign up for a second one.
And really, the possibilities are nearly endless. You could each sign up and refer each other to different cards to diversify the perks, elite status, and other benefits of different rewards programs.
Let’s look at another solid travel credit card that we like known as the American Express® Gold Card. You’ll really feel like you’ve collected all the gold coins on that one super-hard Mario Kart race with this one 😎
Here’s why. You’ll currently earn 60,000 bonus points once you spend $4,000 on purchases within six months of opening your account. The Amex Gold has loads of other perks like 4x points at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points on flights booked through Amex Travel, and 1x points on everything else.
You’ll also score up to $120 in Uber Cash annually ($10 monthly), up to a $120 dining credit ($10 monthly), and up to a $100 credit to be used at The Hotel Collection via Amex Travel. With no foreign transaction fees, it’s a great card to have in your pocket no matter where you are in the world.
It does have a $250 annual fee (see Rates and Fees), but with some of the perks I just mentioned, the fee is almost canceled out entirely.
At this point, we’re basically washing, rinsing, and repeating. You know the drill.
Hit your minimum expenditure on purchases you would already be making, earn your welcome bonus, and refer your P2.
Let’s say you made purchases on a mix of dining and groceries (4x points) and other everyday purchases (1x points) for a total of 12,000 points earned.
Remember, you also referred your P2 to the card.
Here’s what you’ve earned:
60,000 points welcome bonus
12,000 additional spending points
10,000 points referral bonus
Total earned: 82,000 points
Once your P2 gets approved for the card, they also meet the minimum spend and make purchases that earn around 12,000 additional points.
Here’s what your partner earned:
60,000 points welcome bonus
12,000 additional spending points
Total earned: 72,000 points
🎉 CONGRATULATIONS, you have a combined 154,000 Amex points.
In summary, you’ve now got 309,000 total points (between your four cards) that can be used for free travel expenses.
Before we learn how to reap your hard-earned rewards, I wanted to briefly mention one more way you could maximize these referrals even more.
Remember when I said the more the merrier with Mario Kart? Instead of getting only two referrals out of four cards, there’s actually a way to get three referrals…
If you’ve got the Amex Gold card, you can still refer your P2 to this card. Your P2 could then refer YOU to the Amex Hilton card using their Amex Gold referral link. Then, use YOUR Amex Hilton referral link so they can also get the Amex Hilton card.
I know, I know. You may feel a bit like you’re spinning out on one of those dang banana peels right now.
Just know that this triple-referral is out there, and if you choose the right cards, you can maximize your points even more!
The most important thing to know, especially about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold cards is that you can transfer their miles and points to tons of different travel partners (like airlines and hotels).
Pro Tip: Using points and miles with travel partners will almost always have more benefit than the cash value.
I’m not going to get into all the specific details of transferring your miles and points to specific travel partners, but if you want to get into the details, you can read our helpful transfer partner guide.
Let’s say you’ve been fancying some pizza and pasta. You should obviously head to Italy.
Fortunately, United is one of the travel partners that you can transfer your Chase points to at a 1:1 ratio.
There are direct flights to both Rome and Milan from a handful of U.S. cities.
For example, this deal shows tickets from Newark to Milan for 30,000 United miles + just $5.60 in taxes and fees. I also checked, and this same point value is available for the flight home (so 60K for each of you).
Since you’re booking for your P2 as well 😉, you snag two roundtrip seats costing you 120K of your Chase points (that you transferred to United), plus a whopping $22.40.
A flight like this could easily cost upwards of $1500 each, so paying under $23 for the both of you is a mere fraction of the cost.
Pro Tip: If your travel dates are flexible, we recommend signing up for FareDrop to get custom deals on flights whose fares drop significantly. You could score an even better deal than the one we just mentioned!
Lucky for you, you both used our travel hacks to get a total of 309,000 points! Even after your roundtrip flights, you’ve still got 189,000 miles to use.
And hey, maybe you want to splurge on business class seats instead. You’ve definitely got the wiggle room to do so 🤭
Now I’ll be the first to tell you that Milan is one of the most expensive cities in the world. So what better way to save some cash by using points?
Using either your Chase or your Amex points (or both), you can transfer some of these to one of their partner hotels, Marriott, for example.
A great perk that is offered by Marriott is its fifth-night free policy. This means that if you book four nights using reward points, you’ll get the fifth night completely free 🎉
To stay at the Westin Palace just on the outskirts of downtown Milan, it would cost you 181,600 points to stay five nights, even though you’re only using four nights’ worth of points. In the end, you don’t pay a dime!
Remember, as a newly-certified, travel-guru (and Mario Kart pro player), you always want to do your research to scope out the best deals to maximize your points. Some deals will be better than others, so you’ve just gotta put in the effort to find ‘em.
Let’s calculate all this. To fly to Milan and back and to stay there in luxury for five nights, it cost you $22.40 + 301,600 points.
You can see that working as P1 and P2 brought you all of the perks we just walked through. Imagine how much crazier this trip could be if you had more than two players working to earn points… 🤗
See? Despite what you’ve probably been told all your life, credit cards are not scary! Just use them responsibly, and you’ll gain so many more travel benefits than if you didn’t have them.
At this point, there’s nothing left to do but grab your P2 and head for the finish line!