After Ella turned two, going on trips got more expensive now that we had to purchase a seat on the plane for her. My obsession with collecting points kicked into high gear. I wanted to be able to travel without incurring this additional cost or have to wait longer than usual to earn enough points for the tickets. Over the last four years the three of us have flow all on points to Athens Greece, London England, Philadelphia, New York, San Francisco and back from Japan. All we had to pay for were the taxes required when using points.
Tips to help you get closer to your next free trip!
- Find a travel points credit card with bonus points for new sign-ups. I usually get around 25K per card which depending on where you are flying to can already be enough for one ticket.
- After you fulfill the requirement to receive the bonus points, sign-up for another card offering bonus points and cancel the previous card (unless you are interested in having more than one credit card at one time). Despite my constant cancelling and signing up for new credit cards several times a year, when we recently purchased our new home I found out that my credit score was excellent! Strangely enough as long as I paid my bills on time it didn’t negatively affect my credit score.
- Double your sign-up bonus points by applying for separate cards (not supplemental cards) for you and your spouse.
- Look for promotions on credit cards that waive the annual fee for the first year. Schedule a reminder to cancel the card before the annual fee is due. Often when you call to cancel if you state the reason for the cancellation is due to the annual fee, they will sometimes waive it for your for the next year.
- Accumulate points faster with cards that give you 1.5 to 2 times the regular points for purchases at drug and grocery stores and for gas.
- Charge all of your regular purchases or expenses to the credit card no matter how small as it can add up quickly. Think of how many coffees you purchase in a year.
- Always ask whether credit card payment is an option (we were surprised to find out that our car insurance allowed credit card payment).
- Double your points at gas stations and/or grocery stores who also give out travel points with purchase. You get points from the gas station or store for the purchase and additional points when you charge it to the credit card. The points start to add up fast when combined with #3 above.
- Check to see if the restaurants you dine at are partnered with a travel points program (ie. AAdvantage or Sky Miles Dining in the USA or Aeroplan in Canada). Dining programs require sign-up before your restaurant visit and/or require you to charge your bill to a specific credit card. Also, some offer additional bonus points on specific days.
- Depending on the travel points you are collecting, ensure you do not let your points expire. Some programs require activity on the account within a specified period to keep the points active.
In addition we try to travel in the off season which usually starts around middle of October to reduce the amount of points required for each plane ticket. This actually aligns with a down time at my work so it works out perfectly. Plus we find that the weather is still nice at this time to most destinations while avoiding the long line ups and crowds at popular tourist destinations.
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