When it comes to traveling you usually have 2 options; the easy getaway or the more complicated trip that requires planning and budgeting. With the help of some research and a big desire to travel, I found a way to turn a once-in-a-lifetime trip into a reality.
My goal with this blog, besides sharing my adventures with friends and family, is to show my readers that you don’t need to be rich in order to explore and go on adventures. You just have to be savvy and take advantage of a lot of available tools.
Did I really travel to London for free?
Yes. I did. It wasn’t a scheme and I’m not trying to sell you anything, so read up! I’m going to show you exactly what I did in order to prove that you can do it too.
Step 1: Research
I’m constantly looking for travel advice in posts, books, videos and friends. In my research I learned that a lot people go on amazing trips without breaking the bank by redeeming travel points from their credit cards. So I decided to start looking for credit cards and comparing their terms and conditions in order to see which ones had the best features for me. I ended up deciding on the credit card with the best promotion at the time, the Chase Sapphire which had the following sign-in promotion:
Up to 55,000 bonus points to be used for travel by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. You get 50,000 points for reaching the $4,000 goal and an additional 5,000 points if you take out a copy of your card for a friend or family member. Just so you know 55,000 points equals $687.50.
Since I don’t believe in having unnecessary debt, my first step consisted of doing a simple math exercise to determine if I could take advantage of this promotion without affecting my finances. So I did this:
- Listed of all my monthly payments and purchases
- Determined which of these purchases could be paid with a credit card
- Did the math. Could I reach $4,000 in 3 months?
This list included purchases and payments I already had to pay. We’re not trying to go crazy by buying things we don’t need in order to reach a goal. The trick is to use the credit card for things you already have to pay for so that you pay the balance off every month and avoid interest fees. My list consisted of:
- Car payment
- Phone bill
- Electrical bill
- Netflix / HBO bill
- Student loan
- Restaurants/ Fast foods
- Entertainment (movie rentals, movie theaters, cocktails)
- Ipsy / Birchbox monthly subscription
- Miscellaneous expenses (birthday gifts, online shopping, Airbnb)
- My income taxes (it was April and the IRS offered the option of paying by credit card)
**I couldn’t include my mortgage, water bill or health insurance in the list because they don’t accept credit card payments.
After doing some math I found out that I was going to be able to reach the $4,000 goal in the first three months so I went ahead and applied for the card.
Step 2: Apply for the card and be smart about reaching your goal
I applied for the credit card online and as soon as I got it in the mail, I ordered a copy for my husband (to get those 5,000 extra bonus points). Within 3 months I had already reached the goal of $4,000, so I was awarded the additional 50,000 points. By this point I already had 55,000 bonus points ($687.50) to buy tickets on any airline and that wasn’t even counting the 4,000+ points I had from my purchases.
Step 3: Redeeming your points
My heart was set on visiting London because even though I have visited before, it’s one of my favorite cities and I always feel like I don’t have enough time to see everything. Once I decided where to go, I set up travel alerts for London and waited patiently until the prices dropped.
On one glorious day the prices dropped from over $1,200 to $752. It was time to strike! My tickets are usually more expensive than in other cities because of where I currently live so I knew this was a deal I couldn’t pass up. Since a few months had passed by the time I made the purchase, I already had 68,000 points in my account (The 55,000 bonus points + additional points from my regular purchases).
How I redeemed my points:
My ticket cost 60,188 points (or $752.00). Since I had 68,000 available points ($862.03), my ticket came out to $0.00 and I still had some points left for my husband’s ticket. So instead of paying full price for his, we ended up paying $642. Not bad, right? Here’s the proof:
The funny thing is, with this credit card I get 2x the points for travel purchases so those $642 I ended up paying for my husband’s ticket will turn into 1,285 points for my next trip!
There are other ways to reach the $4,000 goal in the first 3 months but I decided to write that information on a different post. You can find it here.
Right now, Chase Sapphire has a “Refer-a-Friend” promotion where if I refer a person who applies for a card, we both get 10,000 points (That’s $125 for travel). So if you’re interested in applying, please let me know so I can refer you and that way we can both get 10,000 extra points!
Questions? Shoot me an email! firstname.lastname@example.org