How many accounts should you open: It's free to open up miles and points accounts with airlines and hotels, and Kelly recommends opening all of them. As for credit cards, Kelly thinks you can open more than you'd expect:
"You're told it will destroy credit. It's not true. If you have a good credit score, there are people like myself who push it to limits. I got four credit cards two weeks ago and eight last year. If you're not running balances, opening cards will not have a negative impact." But again, you need to keep track of your spending.
Transferable-point credit cards: Not all points are equal. A 30,000-point reward ticket might be 100,000 points at a different airline. That's why Kelly recommends a transferable-point credit card that allows you to rack up points in a central location and use them anywhere. Also, a central pool of points gives you flexibility, particularly if you're getting rewards tickets for multiple people. Kelly recommends Chase Ultimate Rewards and the American Express Membership Rewards cards.
Know your cards: Kelly knows people who keep Post-it Notes on their cards so they know which one to use when spending on travel, gas, dining, etc. "Many categories give you double or triple miles on certain categories," Kelly says. "It pays to keep up with them."
Grab these cards: If you have excellent credit and are in need of a vacation, what's your excuse for not applying for a credit card that gives you 50,000 bonus points, enough for a free round-trip coach ticket to Europe? (British Airways Visa — read the fine print and sign up.) Kelly says StarAlliance points, which share miles among 27 carriers, are valuable, and so are British Airways points, which are interchangeable with American Airlines points. Look for these cards.