Points & Miles: Which Cards Are in My Wallet? (February 2019)
You guys may already know that I’m a big advocate for using points for travel. I mean who wouldn’t want to fly first class in one of the Qatar Airways Suites, stretched out on a lie-flat bed sipping a glass of the finest champagne, that tickles your nose when you sip. Flight attendants are at your seat with the push of a button, ready to provide whatever you need, be it caviar or a warm shower 32,000 ft in the air. Umm, Sorry! I was day dreaming.
Back to my reality which looks a little something like this. I enter the plane with our two little ones excitedly running ahead. I’m struggling to get my no-cost carry-on bag through the tight part of the aisle where the plane layout switches from 2x2 to 3x3, you know, the basic economy section. The kids turn back and yell, “Mom, is it this one?” And I respond in my loving mama voice,” No keep going, to the back. No no, not there, all the way to the back.” Our seats are on row 36 out of 39. Our boarding passes read 36A, B, C, D, and E, and there’s a older grumpy-looking guy already seated in 36F. You can see the anticipation on his face, and you can tell that he’s praying inside, don’t let them sit here, don’t let them sit here. We get seated and somebody whines, “Can I have a snack? I’m hungry.” Now, I dig into my backpack and pull out endless packets of cheesy crackers and fruit snacks.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m so happy to be here. I’m actually a little giddy inside that we will be arriving at our destination in a couple of hours, and it only cost 7.5K miles and $5.60 per person to get there! (Think coupon lady excitement) I used points earned from the sign-up bonus on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to pay for these flights. The Sapphire Preferred card is one of my absolute favorite credit cards. It may be because of the 50,000 sign up bonus you can earn after spending $3K in the first 90 days of card approval, or maybe it’s the primary rental car insurance you get with it that allows me to save so much money on purchasing rental car insurance. The benefits are exceptional, and over time, I’ve taken advantage of many of them.
While the first class experience sounds incredible, in reality, the single, carefree, well rested after his flight, first class passenger and I will be getting off at the same destination. In fact, both of us probably have the same credit cards in our wallet. The difference is that when you have a beautiful family of 5 that enjoy traveling too, you have to make your points go a little further. Our kids are getting to see the world and learn about other cultures all while not costing us very much to allow them to do so. They are soaking up all the knowledge that travel has gifted them. They are learning to embrace and accept other people’s differences. They also realize that even though they live in what may seem like completely different worlds, they have so much in common with other children that they meet on our journey.
We travel often, and the main way that our family affords to do this is by using points and miles for flights and hotels. I currently have 10 credit cards in my wallet, none of them with a balance on them. The key is to spend on the cards and pay them off entirely at the end of the month to avoid paying interest and fees. I use my credit cards, not only for large purchases, but also everyday items, like groceries, gas, and dining out. I do not use cash which also includes a debit card, unless is it absolutely necessary. Using credit cards for all of our purchases ensures that we have a steady supply of points to use for our next impromptu trip.
I currently have these cards in my wallet:
Chase Freedom (no annual fee)
Freedom Unlimited (no annual fee)
Citi AAdvantage MileUp
American Express Everyday (no annual fee)
Amex Business Simply Cash Plus (no annual fee)
Most of my cards, minus three, do not have an annual fee which means I pay nothing to have and use those cards and their benefits. The cards that do have a fee, offer benefits that are well worth the cost of the annual fee. I save more money by using those cards than the fee costs or I wouldn’t keep them. I rotate spending on each card, and make sure that I use the appropriate card for the right categories. For example I earn 3X the points on travel with the Citi Premier and Chase Ink Business Preferred cards, so I book all of my travel with those cards. In addition to that, there are travel benefits that you get with these cards like no foreign transaction fees and trip delay and cancellation insurance that protect you during your travel. My favorite no annual fee credit card is the Chase Freedom. It has quarterly rotating bonus categories that allow you to earn 5X the points. This quarter’s bonus categories are Gas Stations, Tolls, and Drugstores.
So, if you are wondering how we get to travel as often as we do, or how you can travel on a limited budget, points and miles are the way to go. If you need a little more inspiration, here are a few of the trips that we’ve taken using points and miles.
Dallas to Destin Florida: 15,000 miles roundtrip + $11.20
Los Angeles to Honolulu, Hawaii: 25,000 miles roundtrip + 11.20
Houston to Manchester, UK: 45,000 miles roundtrip + 121.00
Dallas to Cancun, Mexico: 15,000 miles roundtrip + $11.20 (fees have increased to $81.54)
Dallas to Boston, Massachusetts: 11,000 miles roundtrip + 11.20
Miami to Panama City, Panama: 20,000 miles roundtrip + 76.83
I hope that you are truly thinking of diving into the points and miles world. What’s stopping you? If you would like to learn more from us about POINTS & MILES or are confused about HOW TO GET STARTED, leave us a comment below.
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