So, you want to travel for free huh? Well I can’t teach you how to do that, but I can teach you about the next best thing. Travel hacking has made taking trips a lot more fun and a lot cheaper to go on! Keep reading if you want to know how you can make rewards cards work for you.
A little over a year ago I was desperate to get back out and see more of the world, but I had one problem. I was in massive student debt and couldn’t even dream of spending $1000 on a ticket across the Atlantic. So like any millennial does with their problems, I went to google and typed something like “How to Travel for Free” in the search bar. I came across all these posts referring me to different loyalty programs and different credit cards and I immediately was like NOPE. No more debt for me thanks!
I’m not here to promote racking up more debt just to get a free flight, that makes absolutely no sense. It’s about using credit cards like a debit card in order to gain points and use the rewards in a smart way. I pay it off before the end of the month every single time, and it has actually helped build my credit score!
So…what card do you choose? This was the most overwhelming part of the whole process to me. I ended up choosing the one I did because it had a high sign up reward, extra points on food and travel, no foreign transaction fees, and was just a very well rounded choice in my eyes. There are probably several good options out there, so definitely do your research on others as well!
The one general piece of advice I would give, however, is to not get an airline specific card. Having an airline specific credit card may be great if you travel once every few years or if you are loyal to one specific airline (don’t be), but if you’re serious about free travel and want to travel as often as you’d like, you should seriously look into cards with better benefits than a free checked bag.
Which Card Should You Get?
Chase Sapphire Preferred (APPLY HERE)
This is the card I went with in the end. It was when I watched this video explaining why this card was a good idea that I made my decision (I say this like it’s the biggest deal in the world 😂). But seriously, that video opened my eyes to the world of travel hacking. The annual fee is $95 and I think that is more than fair compared to a lot of other card fees I have seen.
American Express Platinum (APPLY HERE)
Now this is the card my boyfriend has and swears by. It has SO many benefits on top of the points being able to be used for travel. The only reason I don’t have it is because of the annual fee (which he gets waived for being in the military). While it is a hefty fee, the rewards are unreal. Access to lounges in airports, TSA Pre-check credit, yearly airline credit (hello free in-flight drinks?), monthly Uber credit, the list goes on. If you’re a more serious traveller you may want to check this one out!
There are so many other posts out there about different cards, but these are the only ones I have a little knowledge on. I have referred friends to the Chase Sapphire and they have been loving it just as much as me so far!
How to Meet Minimum Spend
Immediately I started thinking of ways I could hit that minimum spend without digging myself into a hole I couldn’t get out of. I had read about people paying rent with it but I just moved home for the summer, so that was out of the question. Instead, I resorted to explaining to my parents how beneficial those points would be to me since I’d be nonstop traveling for the next 7 months. I convinced my mom to buy all our groceries on that card and transfer me the money, and had my dad book part of the family vacation on there and do the same. I hit the minimum in no time and got the points the next month! Spending a little time figuring out ways to make it happen was completely worth it!
If you’re interested in living or working abroad check out:
Whichever card you choose, utilize the ability to transfer points to the FULLEST! It is by far the biggest benefit I have seen from any card on the market. If you have any tips or questions be sure to drop them in the comments down below, happy travel hacking!