Posted at 8:00 AM on Mar 16, 2015 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
This is a guest post from Brad Barrett. He is a Certified Public Accountant, husband, and father to two lovely little girls. He is an avid traveler and through his site RichmondSavers.com he helps teach people to travel the world using rewards miles and points.
Before you read this, you will want to read my post on how I got two free tickets to see my sister overseas this summer. He also can teach you how to travel to disney for free.
Here is Brad…
My wife and I absolutely love to travel, but as I’m sure you know, it is incredibly expensive to take a family of four on a significant vacation.
We knew if we wanted our girls to really experience the world that we’d have to come up with the most cost effective way possible, and after a lot of research we found the answer:
No, that’s not a misprint, I really said credit cards!
Before you think Lauren has gone crazy letting me guest post on ‘I am THAT Lady,’ let me explain:
The major credit card companies offer huge bonuses (often 50,000 miles/points!) to consumers to sign-up for one of their top rewards credit cards. Each of these bonuses can be turned into, on average, $500-$1,000 of free travel!
We found that if we opened up a few new credit cards each year and put our normal everyday spending on them that we could fulfill the bonus requirements for each card and earn a number of lucrative signup bonuses. We could then take those large signup bonuses and turn them into nearly free travel for our entire family!
Each card has a “minimum spending requirement” that you have to hit in order to earn the bonus. A general example would be to “Spend $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months from account opening.”
In this case you would:
- Open the travel rewards credit card (see below for my top recommendations)
- Use this card to pay for your normal expenses until you spend over $3,000 in total. Pay the credit card off in full each month.
- Get the bonus points automatically credited to you after spending the required $3,000.
- Set your travel plans and redeem your points!
Since you’re paying it off on time and in full every month, there is no interest expense at all. The annual fee is waived the first year on most of these cards, so you really can earn these bonuses for $0 out of pocket.
Keep in mind – This is credit card related so it is NOT for everyone.
My wife Laura and I are both CPAs, so you know we did a ton of research on this topic before we even considered jumping into it. We determined it made sense for our family because we already used our credit cards for our normal everyday spending and paid them off on time and in full every single month. We were only getting 1% “rewards” on those cards and we just weren’t satisfied with that.
After doing this for nearly 4 years we have earned over 1,000,000 frequent flier miles and hotel points that we estimate are worth nearly $20,000 of free travel.
That’s $20,000 of free travel just for being smart about which credit cards we used to pay for groceries, gas, restaurants and all our other normal spending.
How can you beat that?
So – How do I travel to Disney for free?
Our family of four took a nearly free trip to Walt Disney World using points and miles and saved $4,000 in the process. You can get free Disney tickets, stay at the Walt Disney World Hotel, and fly for almost free!
Laura and I took a four night luxury trip to Bermuda (in a $1,000 per night suite no less!), and we are currently planning our 10th anniversary trip to Europe for later this year – all with points and miles from credit card signups.
So we know this works.
Okay, so if you think this might be good for your family, how would you get started?
There are lots of card options and it can be a little overwhelming at first, so here are my top two cards for those starting out:
Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®:
This card offers you a bonus of 40,000 Arrival Miles when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months the account is open. You also earn 2 miles for every dollar you spend, so you end up with 46,000 Arrival miles.
This is worth $460 of completely free and flexible travel.
People love this card because it is so easy to use and understand: You just pay for your normal travel expense with your Arrival Plus credit card and after the fact you log into your account and redeem your miles to effectively erase that purchase off your credit card bill.
So you don’t have to change anything at all with your travel planning as there are no “blackout dates” or limits to worry about. It’s just $460 off your normal travel expenses.
These include anything coded by the credit card company as travel, which includes: airline tickets, hotels, trains, car rentals, cruises, tour agencies and tour operators (including the major online sites like Expedia, Travelocity, etc.).
Barclays also gives you 10% of your redeemed miles back as a “dividend,” so that gives you another $46 of free travel for a future redemption for a total of $506.
Chase Sapphire Preferred:
This card offers you a bonus of 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months the account is open. You earn an additional 5,000 bonus UR points if you add an authorized user who makes at least one purchase in the first 3 months. When added to the 4,000 points you earn for your spending, this is worth a total of 49,000 Chase UR points.
There are 3 ways to redeem these points, which I’ll list in increasing order of potential value:
- You can immediately cash them in for $490 of actual cash. $490 free in your pocket just for opening this card and hitting the spending requirement!
- You can book travel through the Chase UR online portal worth $612.50.
- You can transfer the points to one of their 11 airline and hotel partners including Southwest, United, Hyatt and British Airways. This is the most complicated option, but the one with the most potential value. We were able to turn 45,000 of these points into five round-trip flights between Richmond and New York City, each worth $400+. That’s $2,000 of value from one credit card signup! There are many redemption options, but a few more examples would be $700 of flights on Southwest Airlines or up to 9 nights at a Category 1 Hyatt hotel.
These are just two of many rewards credit card options for you to choose from, but the two that I recommend most frequently to those starting out.
If you could use a little help getting started with travel rewards, I offer a completely free 1-on-1 coaching service through my site, so visit this page I created for ‘I am THAT Lady’ readers and we’ll get you started!
On a personal note, I asked Brad to write this up for you all because he is the one that helped me get my free tickets to see my sister.
I would highly recommend that you sign up for his free 1-on-1 coaching service to help you get started. But PLEASE – I urge you to not start using credit cards and get into debt doing this. This is only for people who have a manage on their finances and can handle paying your bills off in full every month!
Posted at 12:30 PM on Aug 24, 2012 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
As you are reading this Mark and I are headed on our first real vacation in our 10 years of marriage! We have never taken our family on a ‘real’ vacation because it just wans’t in our budget, so this is something new for us! We have traveled almost every weekend this summer, so our children are great travelers, but we really wanted to make sure that this trip went as smooth as possible. We have a beach house in the Carolina’s that we are sharing with my sister, brother in law, and my niece and nephew, and we are going to LOVE being away and being unplugged for the week.
We have a budget that we took out as cash and are trying our best to eat out as little as possible. Since we rented a beach house, we have our own kitchen so we are bringing most of our own food and shopping when we get down there. The drive is going to be 14 hours (split up between 2 days) and I have prepared meals ahead of time for my kids that we can eat in the car with very little mess.
I put everything in little ziploc bags due to portion sizes, and all of this should give them lunch and 3 snacks. I even cut up the grapes for my youngest who is too young to eat them whole yet. Once of my least favorite things when traveling is having to stop to eat when everyone is in a good mood, so we like to eat in the car while we are still driving. When they get tired of sitting still, we find a local park or playground and let them run around for 30 minutes. This makes the trip a lot more fun for them and for me!
I made my own uncrustables PB&J sandwiches (use a measuring cup upside down to create these), they are easy for the kids to grab and eat too!
We have our packed car bag – complete with movies, headphones, extra pacifiers for my 16 month old (a MUST!), coloring books, books, and a few more toys. This goes between my two older children so they can reach their toys themselves.
I am SO excited to take this vacation, since I started I am THAT Lady 2 years ago this is the first time (beside after I had my last baby) that I have taken time away from the blog! I will post some pictures while I am gone, but plan on spending most of the time away from the internet and getting a refreshing time away! My assistant Sarah and my other girls Katherine, Laura, Andrea, and Charla will hold down the fort while I am gone so things will be exactly the same!
What are some ways that you save on vacations? I look forward to seeing your answers when I get back!
Posted at 7:16 PM on May 09, 2012 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
Head on over to print off the $1.00 off any adidas Deodorant Product coupon – this is printing off with no size restrictions.
You may be able to find travel sized Adidas products at Walmart and Target for $0.97 – making them FREE after this coupon!
Posted at 7:16 PM on Mar 01, 2012 by I am THAT Lady: Lauren
Today you can get a Custom Travel Mug for only $2.00 + $5.99 shipping! If you went to purchase a travel mug at Walmart you would pay more than this, plus you get to customize it!