This is a new series on the blog about travel hacking beginners and the steps they’re taking to earn miles and points to redeem for free and nearly free travel. The people featured in this series are real people trying to learn more in order to achieve their travel goals.
A short time ago, I introduced you to Dave and Lori. They’re travel hacking beginners, working towards earning miles and points for their goal trip to Italy! If you haven’t read the first steps Dave and Lori took, you can catch up here.
Dave and Lori are not unlike many people. They’re married with 2 kids in college. They didn’t travel much when their kids were younger because of their busy schedules, as well as the expense. They want to travel more now, both as a couple and as a family with their grown kids.
They have every day expenses, a mortgage, and the cost of helping their kids pay for school. Dave and Lori also have travel goals, but aren’t sure how to make them a reality.
Back in the spring, Dave and Lori talked to me about wanting to go to Italy. After talking, they signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and met the minimum spend requirement with their everyday purchases and monthly bills to earn the 40k bonus points. They also took advantage of the “adding an authorized user” 5k bonus.
Dave and Lori also joined the United MileagePlus Dining Program to add to the miles they would earn by dining out at participating restaurants.
Feeling comfortable with these first steps, Dave and Lori moved forward.
In June, for a limited time, the Chase Freedom card doubled its sign-up bonus to 20k Chase Ultimate Rewards points or the equivalent of $200 cash back. With only a $500 minimum spend in 3 months and no annual fee, this card was a no-brainer.
This sign-up bonus is no longer available, but historically, Chase has doubled its Freedom sign-up bonus during the month of June.
Chase Freedom is also the perfect companion card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If you have both the Sapphire Preferred and the Freedom cards, you can transfer your Chase Freedom points to your Sapphire Preferred account to take advantage of Chase’s 11 airline, hotel, and railroad partners for booking award travel.
Dave and Lori were approved for the Chase Freedom card, and as with the Sapphire Preferred, met the minimum spend requirement and added an authorized user for 2.5k bonus points.
Between just the 2 Chase credit cards, Dave and Lori earned 67.5k Chase Ultimate Rewards points in sign-up bonuses!
One of the incredible perks of the Chase Freedom card is the lucrative 5x the points rotating bonus categories.
Dave and Lori got their Freedom card for the start of the 3rd bonus quarter, which includes 5x the points on gas and Kohls purchases through September 30th.
One of the biggest tricks in travel hacking is knowing which credit card to use for which purchases. It’s important to learn how to maximize your spending, instead of just spending more money.
Dave and Lori set up a system for paying some bills with their Chase Sapphire Preferred. They’re focusing on making sure they use their Sapphire card for dining purchases to earn 2x the points and their Freedom Card for gas purchases for 5x the points!
Even though Chase has decided not to continue its First Friday 3x the points on dining in 2016, Dave and Lori are taking advantage now by eating out at restaurants in the MileagePlus Dining Program and paying with their Sapphire card on the first Friday of every month.
By doing this, they earn 3x the points from the dining program AND 3x the points on Sapphire just for eating out on First Friday! Dave is learning (just like my husband did!) the fastest way to a girl’s heart is to earn 6x the points on a fun, romantic date night!
At last check, Dave and Lori have nearly 90k total Ultimate Rewards points! 90k UR points is not enough for Dave and Lori to fly round trip to Italy, but it’s close!
Here are a few ideas of how Dave and Lori could use with their 90k UR points for flights right now!
- 2 one-way economy tickets to Italy on United or a partner like Singapore Air for 60k points or less!
- 2 round trip economy tickets to Hawaii by booking a United flight through Singapore Air for as little as 70k points!
- 2 round trip off-peak economy tickets to South America for 80k points on American Airlines!
If Dave and Lori wanted to plan a trip with their 2 grown kids, they could book:
- 3 round trip economy tickets to Ireland to explore castles and have a Guiness in a real Irish Pub for 75k points by taking advantage of British Airways distance-based award chart!
- 3 round trip economy tickets for 75k points to Calgary on United to see the Canadian Rockies!
- 4 round trip economy tickets for 80k point to the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, or the Dominican Republic by using British Airways distance-based award chart!
Of course, all of these suggestions assumes award seats are available and don’t take into account the incredible number of booking possibilities with more complex itineraries, that include stopovers and open jaws!
The takeaway, though, is with only 2 credit cards, using a dining program, and maximizing their spending with bonus categories, Dave and Lori are well on their way to making their goal trip to Italy a reality!
I can’t wait to update you on their progress soon!
What is your travel goal? How are you earning miles and points for award travel?
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