Reader Question: "Can You Simplify How You Travel For Free (in one post)?"

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So you subscribed to the newsletter and you’re excited because 1tattedpassport is finally going to show you how to fly in business class and stay in luxury hotels for “free.”

However, you visited the blog and were a little confused because it was a foreign language. Miles..points…minimum spend…A350…credit score…credit cards…flights…lounges…cash back…shopping portals…what is he talking about??

I agree, it is a foreign language but the more time you spend with it, the more the puzzle pieces will fall into place. If you continue reading the blog, I can guarantee you’ll be able to check destinations off your bucket list!

I spent a lot of time writing the beginners guide but I get it…you don’t have time to read all that stuff and you just want someone to explain it to you in simple terms so you can do start tomorrow. Ok, let’s go…

THE BASICS

There are a million credit cards out there and many of them offer some great benefits. I focus on travel-related credit cards because that’s what I enjoy doing.

But here is a basic run-down of how this works…

  1. Apply for a credit card
  2. Rack up points
  3. Redeem points for travel

… too simple?

OK, THE BASICS EXPLAINED A LITTLE MORE…

When you apply for a credit card, they are going to approve or deny you. If you’re denied…YOU SHOULD START HERE. If you are approved, you will receive the card in about a week. Hopefully, you applied for a good card and there is a bonus attached to the card (e.g. points for meeting the “spend requirement” within a certain timeframe).

EXAMPLE

If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you are aware that I love examples. So, let’s start with a simple example.

One of my favorite credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. I consider it to be one of the most well-rounded cards on the market, and one of the best cards for beginners. It has a low annual fee, good return on spending, excellent perks, and has a generous welcome bonus.

CHASE SAPPHIRE PREFERRED (CSP)

At the moment, CSP has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards Points after spending $4,000 within three months (of approval of the card). In other words, if you are able to put $1,334 per month on this card DURING THE FIRST 3 MONTHS, you will be rewarded with 60,000 points.

IS 60,000 POINTS GOOD?

If you are new to points/miles, 60,000 points may not mean much to you so you’re probably asking yourself “what can I do with 60,000 points?”

Well, it depends on your travel goals but I’ve listed a few examples (below) to spark your imagination. So let’s see what we can do in the next month or so…

Anyone interested in flying from NYC to Paris 30 days from now? United Airlines is charging 30k for a one-way in economy…

Perhaps, you live on the west coast, Japan has always been on your bucket list, and you want to go on Bae-cation for Valentines Day…

..or would you rather spend Bae-cation on the beaches of Hawaii? Virgin Atlantic is charging…

Note: Did you know you can use Virgin Atlantic miles (a European Airline) to fly on Delta planes all around the world? If not, you may want to READ THIS.

Perhaps, you are not interested in flying those 10 hours from Atlanta to Honolulu and prefer a road trip to Miami, FL. Well, for 20,000 points per night, you can stay in the heart of South Beach. If you follow me on Instagram, you may remember that I did it…READ ABOUT MY EXPERIENCE.

IT GETS BETTER

CSP offers bonus points in two categories that I believe are useful to everyone. It offers 2x points per dollar on dining and travel purchases globally and 1x points on all other purchases.

In other words, if you eat at Chipotle tonight and spend $8 on a burrito, you’ll receive 16 points for making a “dining” purchase and paying with that card.

Another example…when you stay one night at a hotel that costs $100/night, you’ll receive 200 points for making a “travel” purchase and paying with that card.

Chase is very generous with the “travel” category. For example, airlines, airports, uber, lyft, car rental agencies, parking garages, cruise ships, hotels, motels, timeshares, trains, buses, taxis, ferries, tolls, etc. all qualify as travel.

Note: I always recommend getting a credit card that has bonus categories that match up with your spending profile. Some cards offer bonus categories on travel, dining, gas stations, supermarkets, etc., so pick the one that works best for you.

Search HERE and filter the cards by category.

…BUT WAIT…IT GETS BETTER

If you have ever had a flight delay / cancellation, or your bags did not arrive on the same flight as you, it can be very stressful. However, CSP offers quite a bit of valuable travel and purchase protection.

…BUT WAIT…IT GETS EVEN BETTER…

Call right now and for 3 low payments of…

I’m just kidding, CSP has a $95 annual fee that is charged to your card during the first credit card statement cycle. It is also worth noting that the $95 DOES NOT count towards your $4000 minimum spend.

FINAL STAMP

Once you obtain the points, you are able to transfer your points to various airlines and hotels and redeem them “free” flights or luxury stays.

CSP has a reasonable $95 annual fee. You can add authorized users to the card at no extra cost, and any spending they put on their card will contribute towards the points you earn.

But here is the bottom line…during the course of one month, there are things that you are going to purchase. For example, you’re going to purchase food (from the grocery store or from a restaurant), pay your cell phone bill, fill your car with gas, pay utilities, purchase something off of amazon, pay tuition, etc. Am I right?

The credit card does not require you to do anything extra besides put those purchases on your credit card. Why not be rewarded for doing things that you are already going to do?

CAVEAT: I will repeat this many times…pay your credit card in full every month! My rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t put a purchase on your debit card, don’t put it on your credit card.”

Who has a different outlook on points? What questions do you have?

P.S. Have you ever wondered how people afford to stay in overwater villas in the Maldives or stay at luxury hotels in the most expensive cities? If you have ~$1100 to spend on a hotel per night…go for it. But I prefer to spend 30,000 points per night. Amazing luxury for paying the bills that I was going to pay anyway (e.g.cell phone bill, rent/mortgage, groceries, amazon purchases, etc.) with my credit card? Count me in!!!

Park Hyatt Maldives
Park Hyatt New York City

If this post has intrigued you, READ THIS POST!

8 comments

  1. My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a home but soon as that is complete I will be looking into these cards! Thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience, and allowing us to travel thru your lense and experience!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. No, thank you for reading. p.s. something to think abt…this may be an ideal time to get a card for you. New home=new purchases. Area rug? End tables? New dishes? Every dollar counts toward that minimum spend and you’re going to buy those end tables anyway. No pressure of course but this is how you I think about points. I don’t make any purchase without getting points and those points add up fast.

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  3. It largely depends on your goals. For example, it’s silly for me to recommend the IHG card if you never stay with IHG properties. Although I have the Bonvoy card myself, it’s not the best card unless you stay at Marriott all the time (& even then it’s debatable). Personally, I love the Hyatt card and Hyatt properties. And take a look at the IHG card, it more than pays for itself. I think this is a great question so stay tuned. I will do a more in-depth post to answer your question. p.s. if you don’t stay in any particular brand hotel (e.g. IHG, Marriott, Hyatt, etc.), consider the Sapphire Preferred. Not only can you transfer your points to airlines but you can transfer to hotels too.

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  4. That “lil BOA travel rewards” is a good. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t increase your points and improve your strategy with another card. I have several cards and they all serve a specific purpose. As I said in the article, CSP is a good introductory card. Let me know if you have any questions.

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  5. Applied and APPROVED!!! Thanks so much for getting me started. I’m sure you will be hearing from me often for HELP!

    Like

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