If you trust the opinion of scientists, which what do they know, traveling is more rewarding than material possessions. Clearly, what they are getting at is traveling is pretty great! I wonder what they would say if I told them I've flown to places like Puerto Vallarta or Asia for free?!
My first year out of graduate school I was living in Grand Junction, Colorado and while booking a Southwest flight to visit my friends in NYC they had an offer to get their credit card and get 50,000 miles (woah!) and the first year annual fee waived. I had heard of people using the card and liking it and figured I’d give it a shot, it was free after all. With the money I would spend throughout the year, and the annual bonus, I averaged 1.5-2 flights a year and figured that was worth the annual $99 fee. It was saving me money on trips I would take normally. Not to shabby.
But, Grand Junction is a town of about 100k people and Southwest didn’t fly there so having their card was super inconvenient. I typically had to drive 4 hours to Denver, leave my car at a friends place, and bum a ride to the airport just to use my miles. Was it really worth it? I eventually got an American Airlines card, just in case, but only used the card until I got the bonus. This came in handy because when I went to Europe I used my Southwest miles to get to NYC, stayed there for a few days, then paid $180 to get to London, and used my American Airlines miles to get me home at the end of the trip. Going to Europe and back for $180 isn’t awful but I could do better!
When I started an LLC for my real estate properties I got a chase preferred business card with it. I chose to do the business card because it offered more miles (80,000) but came with an annual expense of $95. Over the course of the next year I just put all my business expenses on it and come the spring of 2019 I was able to book a round trip flight to shanghai for free! Nothing, zero, zilch, the ole bagel. Now this is something I could get into!
Around this time I was listening to the podcast which took my travel hacking to a whole new level. I learned Chase has a lot of good travel rewards cards but they put a limit on how fast you can churn through them. They limited it to 5 cards every 24 months (10 in 24 if you are married). I started making my own list of cards, with the best points, and going through them.
The first card I got was the Chase Sapphire personal card. With this card I was able to get 60,000 in points and then the Chase Preferred business card and got an additional 80,000. As of June 24th I was sitting at around 180,000 points which isn't awful, especially if getting to Shanghai and back was 93,000. I have roughly two free international trips whenever I need them.
The glorious thing about Chase ultimate rewards points is you can use them on flights, hotels or even transfer them to other rewards programs if I wanted.
The next step will be at the beginning of 2020 to get the holy grail of travel rewards. THE SOUTHWEST COMPANION PASS! With Southwest you get a companion pass (buy one get one free) when you reach 110,000 points in a calendar year and that lasts for the remainder of the year you got it and the one after as well. The trick is to get the personal Southwest card and get the sign on bonus for 50,000 and then get the business card and the 60,000 sign up bonus and at that point you have all the points you need and boom, you and your travel buddy are flying for the price of one.
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If you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out! Happy Free Traveling!
HELLO AND WELCOME!
I'm Jake, a dude interested in personal finance and travel creating the life I choose.
In 5 years I went from living in a basement with Craigslist roommates to paying off 90k of debt, backpacking 3 continents, getting a house for myself and 5 rental units.
Read my story in the about me section.
All photos on the blog are from my travels
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