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.
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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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