We’ve been very fortunate to take our kids around the world for nearly free. Many thanks to the miles and points we’ve earned from the different credit card bonuses we’ve signed up for. I get excited whenever we go on trips, and I’m even more excited to hear the successes from those who acknowledge that my family have somewhat inspired them to embark on a free trip of their own. This is exactly what happened with Maricar. For this latest Reader Success Tales, Maricar shared how she and her husband took their two kids on a summer vacation from Los Angeles to Orlando. Their four roundtrip tickets were all covered by points, along with their hotel stay for seven nights! How exactly? Let’s find out.
Hi! My name is Maricar, and I’ve been actively involved in the credit card points hobby for about two years. My high school friend Nancy and her husband Jason introduced me and my husband to the wonderful world of free vacations through points.
In the past, hubby and I have often used credit card points or online travel sites such as Expedia for free hotel stays, and we thought we were being really smart. That was, until I started following Jason’s blog, daddytravelsnow.com. After a lunch date with Nancy in July of 2016, hubby and I understood that it was really not complicated nor was it any riskier than applying for a new credit card for someone who has a solid credit history and sound financial habits.
Picking Chase Sapphire and Chase Ink
Hubby and I applied for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, which at that time was offering 50,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points if we spend $4,000 within three months. We also applied for the Chase Ink Business Preferred which gave us 80,000 Ultimate Rewards bonus points after meeting the minimum spend. We easily met the minimum amount for both cards through hubby’s business purchases, which were then reimbursed by his clients at the end of each month. We also signed up for the Chase Ink Cash which is another business card that earns 5 points per dollar when you purchase items from an office supply store. The points easily add up when we buy gift cards such as Amazon, gas gift cards, and grocery gift cards.
At this time, we didn’t have a plan yet of how or even when we were going to use the points. So, we just kept using CSP as our primary card, while points were accumulating beyond the bonuses we had already received. We would use some points here and there for short getaway trips to San Diego, or Santa Barbara, etc. But the big, fat points were staring right at us in the face, just waiting to be unleashed.
Florida it is!
Finally, we decided that it would be Florida for June 2018. We usually take a weeklong vacation in the summer (and we always make sure we never pay full price), but this would be the first time where the major expenses would be completely and totally FREE (thanks to our points)! I’m pretty sure the points we had would have had more bang for the buck if I did more extensive research (or maybe asked Jason do the research) – maybe I could have exchanged points for miles, or used hotel points, etc. But I didn’t have the time or energy for that and opted to go the easy route and booked our flight, hotel, and car rental through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which gives 25% more value per point. That’s an extra $250 for every $1,000 you have! Who doesn’t want free??
So Jason asked, “What did you learn about yourself and your way of preparing for this trip? How about lessons you learned about yourself?”
These questions required too much introspection. And after much deep reflection, I can honestly say: Hey, I never thought about that! But now that you asked, I realize that I really should be more mindful of lessons learned, not just for my kids, but for my own self development as well.
Seeing the world through my children’s eyes
This summer was our first venture into homeschooling, too! So even though we were on vacation, we tried to make each day an adventure in learning for the kids – whether it was learning about marine life at Sea World, snorkeling with fish and rays at Discovery Cove, and even seeing wildlife in the parking lot.
It’s exciting to see the world through your children’s eyes! Everything is new and wonderful and weird. And after every trip, I always come home with a better appreciation of my family and what I have at home. And this time around, it was with more cash in our pockets than our previous vacations.
No strings attached
So if you haven’t jumped on the miles and points hobby yet, I can only say: If you have a solid credit score and you’ve got sound financial habits, then consider those your assets and let those assets work for you! Who wouldn’t want a one week free trip to somewhere they’ve always wanted to go, with NO STRINGS attached? I’ve been on some company-sponsored-all-inclusive-trips, but let’s be honest here: I had to work really hard to be qualified for those trips, plus pay for our own airfare. On the other hand, by using points, it’s free. No hidden (or overt) agendas either.
The gift that keeps on giving
By the way, my mom is in town visiting. We were able to get her a roundtrip airfare ticket to Los Angeles from Manila. Free by way of points. As my friend Jason would say: “That’s what it’s all about!”
I feel very humbled and blessed whenever my friends, family, readers/followers come to me with their own success stories. As I had mentioned in the past, my main goal for documenting our travels was to give us a way to look back at the time and places we visited, what we did during those trips, what we ate, where we swam, etc. You get the picture. It never fails. On the days when I find a little me-time, a little alone time, I simply go back to my blog and reread our adventures. I laugh every now and then because there were many details that happened during those moments that I documented, and how much I had forgotten them. And thank God for blogging our adventures, otherwise, I would’ve easily forgotten those interesting details.
Reading Maricar’s summer adventure with her family in Florida hit me in many ways when she imparted the joy of seeing the world through her children’s eyes. That’s why I try my best to bring our kids on a trip whenever humanly possible. There is sincere purity when I see them appreciate every destination we’ve visited.
Lastly, I was also glad that Maricar touched on embarking on earning travel rewards so long as you have sound financial habits. I’ve talked to many folks, young and old alike, and the very first thing I tell them? This is not Jason trying to encourage you to open up all these credit cards irresponsibly. I don’t want you to rack up your bills monthly, and only pay $20 minimum monthly. NOPE! This travel-earning journey requires responsibility. If you charge $1,000 with a credit card, when the statement comes, and your statement balance shows that you owe $1,000, then you should pay $1,000 on or before the due date. During my chat with Maricar, she mentioned
“The miles and points game through credit cards takes discipline; you have to have a habit of paying off that credit card statement. Every. Single. Month. Otherwise the interest and/or fees will render all those accumulated points completely useless.”
She could not have said any better. Again, thank you, Maricar and family, for sharing your travels with us. Most of all, for trusting me by taking a leap of faith in this world of traveling for nearly free. I can’t wait to see what’s next in store for you and your family. Happy travels.
To those who follow and read my adventures at DaddyTravels, if you would like to share your success in traveling for nearly free, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow DaddyTravels on Facebook.