How We Still Travel for Cheap

I would never pay the cost of a full price business class ticket to Asia, about $4,000.  I would use 125,000 Chase points and around $200 in fees instead.  I am sure most of you have heard of “travel hacking”.  The art of collecting airline or hotel points to to get free flights and hotel stays, mostly through credit card sign up bonuses.  I do partake in it, but in a much lesser extent than what you may have read from other sites.  I think it’s a fear of crushing my credit score, or just messing up somehow.  We are always actively looking for good deals in the housing market now, so opening and closing multiple credit card accounts is a big red flag.  It’s quite daunting to sign up for 4-5 credit cards in a day.  I did this on a more realistic level.  I’ve only at most signed up for 2 cards at once.  Although I have multiple credit cards, I have acquired them over time, and have closed some accounts after receiving the bonus points. With that, I only choose the cards that I know will be beneficial for me, both for the large sign up bonus, and the perks from the cards afterwards, if I decide to keep it open.

My Cards Over the Years

Over the years these are the cards I signed up for and their bonuses.  I did not mention a few cards as they were before I knew anything about credit card churning.  Also I did not put down the Chase Unlimited or Freedom, as I did not collect a bonus for them, but they are part of my Chase Quadfecta in collecting points. Those are the cards I actually use most. I won’t get into detail about them, as I feel most people know about it.  If not please let me know, and I will explain in detail in a future post.

  • United Mileage Plus Explorer – 50,000 miles with $2,000 spent in the first 3 months. $95 yearly fee, waived the first year.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest –30,000 miles with $5,000 spent in the first 6 months. $65 yearly fee, waived the first year.
  • Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red – 50,000 miles after making your first purchase.  $95 yearly fee.
  • Southwest Rapids Rewards Premier – 50,000 miles with $2,000 spent in the first 3 months.  $99 yearly fee, but you receive 6,000 miles per year which offsets the annual fee.
  • Southwest Rapids Rewards Business – 50,000 miles with $3,000 spent in the first 3 months.  $99 yearly fee, but you receive 6,000 miles per year which offsets the annual fee.
  • US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards – 85,000 hotel points with $2,500 spent in the first 3 months. $75 yearly fee, but you receive 40,000 hotel points per year which offsets the annual fee.  Also a huge perk before the summer of 2015 was that with reward bookings you would get your last night stay free, so basically a buy one get one free on a 2 night stay.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points with $3,000 spent in the first 3 months.  $95 yearly fee, waived the first year.  Points can be transferred to partner airlines or hotels for lucrative redemptions.
  • Chase Ink Preferred – 80,000 points with $5,000 spent in the first 3 months.  $95 annual fee.  Points can be transferred to partner airlines or hotels for lucrative redemptions.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 100,000 points with $4,000 spent in first 3 months.  $450 yearly fee, but comes with $300 back in travel credit which is extremely easy to collect back.  Points can be transferred to partner airlines or hotels for lucrative redemptions.

These were pretty much all the credit cards I signed up for in the past 5 years, not including cards without bonuses, which I would say is around 5 more.  So all in all, I am at about 14 cards, plus or minus 2, which equates to about 3 cards per year.  This I feel is extremely with in reason.  I collected around 545,000 points from the bonuses alone, not including my wife’s bonuses, as I had her sign up for a few cards as well.  I would say we are around 900,000 points collected between the 2 of us.

I did not list the credit cards in order of when I received them, as it’s a bit hard for me to remember. The ones I signed up most recently, were the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Preferred.  As mentioned, opening multiple credit cards before taking out a large loan is a big red flag for loan officers, so we had to be very careful about this.

Future of Our Credit Cards

I know there are many other travel hacking bloggers out there who have churned out millions of points which is amazing, but that just isn’t something I can do.  The required spend amount can add up quickly, and credit card churning shouldn’t be done if you aren’t able to pay off your credit cards in full as the fees are extremely high.  Growing up, my family was extremely frugal, and like most Asian families, debt was the devil, and credit cards were never used, cash was always the preferred form of payment.  I don’t feel comfortable opening and closing so many credit cards, but I do see the value in it and understand completely if others do so.  With all the points you can amass so easily, you can travel in luxury for the fraction of the retail cost.  I’ll highlight some of the amazing trips my wife and I have been on with all the points we collected in another post.  I am sure I will be adding 1 or 2 credit cards to my collection soon so I will provide an update later on the card.  If you don’t know about travel hacking and want to learn more, please ask and I will create a new post showing how to do this.

Do you travel hack?

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