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.
I want to introduce Dave and Lori.
Dave and Lori are 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.
Like a lot of people, they have everyday expenses, a mortgage, and the cost of helping their kids pay for school. Dave and Lori have travel goals but aren’t sure how to make them a reality.
They approached me in March to talk miles and points, my favorite topic! They asked me about some of the trips I had taken using miles and points before explaining their goals. Here is a piece of our conversation.
What is your travel goal?
Our first goal is definitely Italy for sure! Not being seasoned world travelers, we’re sure there are many places in Europe we would like and would learn about different ways of life. In general, we just want to travel more! We would also love to visit Caribbean islands, like Turks and Caicos.
Why do you want to go to Italy?
We have seen pictures of Italy and have fallen in love with the sights and landscape. We love Italian food and wine and want to eat lots of Italian food! We would love to visit some relatives in Campobasso and see a different way of life. Our daughter, Bre has always wanted to go to Italy. She won the Italian World Award in school and took Italian classes. We would love to make her dream of riding on a gondola in Venice come true!
Dave and Lori were ready to jump in and start earning miles and points but were unsure about how to begin. Not unlike a lot of people, though, they were worried about applying for tons of credit cards.
They expressed wanting to move slowly, work towards earning for their travel goal, and make sure they felt comfortable with each decision they made.
This is the best way to begin earning miles and points to redeem for award travel.
One of the most common mistakes people make is applying for too many credit cards in a short window of time. Without a plan, this can feel like a nightmare when trying to meet the minimum spend requirements for each card, to manage to spend in order to maximize each card’s value, and to be sure to pay each bill off on time.
Dave and Lori wanted to apply for a credit card that came with a sign-up bonus, but also was a solid all-purpose card to accumulate points that would be good for a variety of airlines and hotels. In other words, they were looking for a credit card to keep in their wallet long term.
After our conversation, they decided to apply for the (not an affiliate) Chase Sapphire Preferred. The card usually offers 40k Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4k in 3 months. By adding Dave as an authorized user, they earned an additional 5k points.
They used their bills and everyday spending to meet the minimum spend requirement. Remember, this is money they would have already been spending. It would have come from their bank account and earned them nothing more than the satisfaction of knowing they paid their bills on time.
With the sign-up bonus earned, Dave and Lori plan to use the Chase Sapphire to pay for their bills and everyday expenses. Lori has worked out a system between their bank accounts to show how much money has been spent using the Chase Sapphire, in order to pay off their bill in full at the end of each month. The money appears as if it has been spent when it is actually “hiding” in a different account.
Dave and Lori also didn’t know about the different “non-flying” ways to earn miles and points.
They signed up for a MileagePlus account and, with their MileagePlus membership, they joined the MileagePlus Dining program. There are several participating restaurants in their area where they can earn United miles. They registered their Chase Sapphire and, when they dine at one of these participating restaurants, they are earning 2x the Chase points for dining PLUS 3x the miles from the MileagePlus Dining program.
On a recent Friday night out, Dave text me saying,
“I’m trying to understand this whole concept, but I’m just banging martinis and getting points. I’m in…”
Exactly! Earning miles and points is so much easier than many people realize. Taking simple steps can earn you award travel!
Dave and Lori have taken the first steps to realizing their travel goal. In just a short time, their Chase Ultimate Rewards points are up over 50k and growing.
I’ll be updating you on their progress and what next steps they are taking to get themselves closer to Italy!
Getting started with miles and points is easier than you think! Check out why I travel hack and why you should, too.
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