I’ve been so excited to write this post and also a little nervous. I’m not a money expert (yet) and this whole jam about how to use credit card sign up bonuses to travel for free falls a little outside the bounds of what I’d normally share about in terms of the healing path and spirituality.
However, as you may know, a lot of my healing over the past few years has had to do with the following topics: money, travel, freedom, wealth, luxury, exploration, the inner journey vs. the outer journey . . . so actually learning how to fly around the country (and the world) for free legitimately falls into all of those categories.
I’ve also been thinking about this one lately: either the spiritual path is everything or the spiritual path is nothing, and I choose that the spiritual path is everything.
So this topic is holy too. And exciting! Because free travel. It’s a real thing you can have!
I’ll say this right off the bat: I’m not a financial advisor and you shouldn’t go down this road if it’s not the correct move for you. If you are in credit card debt, I don’t recommend playing this game, but as always, you do you.
That said, here are my step by step suggestions for planning a trip with credit card bonus points so that you can travel for free.
How to choose between travel reward credit cards?
First off, where do you want to go?
If you’re trying to go somewhere very specific that only a few airlines fly to, look into credit card promotions from individual airlines because you might find a great deal there.
If you’re not 100% sure where you want to travel yet, or you know that one of the more popular airlines will take you to your destination, I recommend starting out with the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel reward card since there is a ton of flexibility with redeeming your points.
I’ve planned trips with a few different travel reward credit cards, but today I’m talking about the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel rewards credit card because it’s the one I used to travel for free on my most recent adventure between Baltimore, New Mexico, Florida, and New York.
I did not spend a penny on any of my flights.
How does the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel reward credit card work?
You get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months from your account opening. That translates to $625 in travel rewards when you redeem through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
My Recommendation: With this card you can do a 1:1 point transfer to many other frequent travel programs (i.e. 10,000 points transferred points from Chase to Southwest Airlines will still be 10,000 points), which I think is the best option because individual airlines tend to give a higher exchange rate on points when you book directly through their interfaces.
- You can get 5,000 additional points when you add another user to your card who makes a purchase in the first 3 months of the account opening.
$0 annual fee for the first year. Then you can cancel your card (mark your calendar!) or do the $95 for the annual fee following the first (free) year.
How to rack up the minimum spending to get the points bonus on a travel rewards credit card:
- Apply for a travel reward credit card when you know you have a big payment coming up like a digital course, tuition for a retreat, expensive plane tickets, etc.
- Buy large gift cards for services you use regularly like Whole Foods, your fav local business, or even amazon.com.
- Pay your rent on the credit card. Many rental companies will let you pay a nominal fee to use a credit card for these lump sum payments.
- Tax time? Pay the small fee to put part of your tax payment on a credit card.
Important: Only do this kind of spending when you have the money waiting in a savings or checking account to pay off the credit card immediately. This endeavor has nothing to do with getting into credit card debt of any kind. Be impeccable with your balance payments.
What should I do after I get my sign up bonus on a travel reward credit card?
Well done. Now go plan your fabulous soul-centered adventure!
After you hit the minimum spending on the card to earn your points, stop using that credit card and move on to another promotion.
Something to keep in mind with the specific card I’ve been talking about in this post is that it’s free for the first year but after that there is a $95 annual fee. You might want to cancel the card just before the year deadline to avoid that cost.
When there isn’t an annual fee, I don’t cancel credit card. My strategy is to keep one small recurring payment (utilities and subscriptions work well here) on any travel reward credit card that has already given me my bonus points. I put the monthly credit card payment on autopay with my checking account so that I can all but forget about the closed loop, while demonstrating to the powers that be that I have excellent credit.
Some travel reward credit cards will let you take advantage of the bonus promotion again every few years, but these terms seem to change pretty often. Check the fine print or get in touch with customer support.
Warnings about using travel reward credit cards to fly for free:
I’m not a financial advisor and everything in this post is based on my own experience. Make the choices that are correct for you and consult with a financial advisor who can help you make wise financial choices.
I only recommend going on this adventure if you can pay your credit card balance in full every month.
Ready for a (free!) adventure?
I LOVE the feeling of free travel and working with air miles from travel reward credit cards makes this a super simple reality for me.
If you decide that free travel is for you, I definitely recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred travel reward card.