How to Travel for FREE

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If you want to learn how to travel for (nearly) free, then stick around! Below are my BEST simple tips 2 years into doing just this. This process involves opening a new credit card, and earning points at a rapid rate to travel with.

Some people get nervous about that (I was at first!) but I promise, once you figure out the system, you’ll wish you’d done this YEARS ago (I wish I did!) Please message me with ANY questions, I’m happy to help!

Make sure you read this entire post, especially the * at the bottom about applying!

How to Travel for Free

How to get credit card points to travel for free

Here’s how the (nearly) free travel works (in a nutshell):

  1. Apply for and open a new (specific) card with sign on bonus’
  2. Spend a certain amount of money in a certain amount of time (usually 3 months)
  3. Earn free travel points (for flights, hotel, car rental, etc.)

Let’s break it down.

How to apply for and open a new card:

There are a variety of cards you can open, with a variety of perks. Just start ONE at a time. I started with this * Chase Sapphire card 2 years ago. I just clicked on the link (when you click on my link right there, we BOTH get points, so I’d love if you do use my link!) and filled out an online application to apply for the card, and was approved in minutes! (Decent credit score helps). You then wait the 10 days for it to arrive in the mail, but I needed mine sooner (was about to drop some cash on a home project), so I called them, and they overnighted it to me and I had it within 2 days!

How do I earn points spending money?

Depending on which card you open, they have different “minimum spends” at different times of the year (think: sales at various times). The first card I got said that if I spend a minimum of $4000 (on literally ANYTHING) in 3 months, I’d earn the reward points, which is now 60,000 points (more on using points in the next section).

Now I don’t know about you, but spending $4000 in 3 months is not hard. I normally spend about $1500 a month on groceries and Amazon. Plus, I got the card in September, because I KNEW I’d be spending more with holiday shopping. Besides grocery bills, I wanted to make sure I was safe, so I did painstakingly go into our auto pay bills (netflix, hulu, internet, phone bill) and change to this card, but if I had just done my groceries (Walmart) and Amazon, I would have been golden to spend $4000 in 3 months. Once I spent the minimum, and paid it off, I saw those reward points show up in my online credit card portal.

How do I use travel points to travel?

I recently cashed in my points for flights to the Dominican Republic, and French owned islands in the Caribbean where my boys lived for a family trip. In the Chase portal, I used my points to transfer to Air France, United, and Jet Blue. I got tickets for all 6 in my family! I secured the tickets in November for July travel, I wanted to make sure I got them well in advance.

The points not only translate into airlines, but also hotels, even resorts! Sometimes the points transfer 1 to 1 (1 point per $1 dollar it is “worth”) and other times, points are worth 2 to 1, where it actually has a double/higher value than the dollar. So it’s to your benefit to use points no matter what, you definitely are not LOSING money!  There are quite a few resources of helpful accounts that have helped me and answered my questions, and I’m here to help YOU!!!

BONUS!!!!

When I signed up for my card a year ago, the bonus was actually the highest I’ve seen it (they change the sign-on bonus all the time, I haven’t seen it that high since). I knew I could reach the $4k goal with our family spending, easy. My husband rarely buys groceries (or anything) but we had a big home project (exterior home painting) which was $4000, so guess what we did?? I got the card in my name for our family spending, then I referred him to the Chase Sapphire card with my link (just as I did right there for you) and he signed up, and got his own Chase Sapphire card in his name NOT TIED TO MY CARD and BAM! We earned another DOUBLE points, plus a referral bonus!!! Right now, that would be 160,000 travel points for spending money we were already planning to spend (groceries and home project). We DO NOT spend the money just to get points, it’s already our normal spending or home projects we’ve been planning.

After he earned his points, we called and had them transfer his points to me to keep our points tidy all in one place.

So if you have any big home projects, it’s a NO BRAINER!!!! You can use it, pay it off, and let the points collect until you are ready to travel.

The Fine Print on nearly free travel + TIPS:
  • Most of these cards have an annual fee of $95-100. If you’re like us, you’ve always shy-ed away from annual fees. It’s annoying, but STILL WORTH!! Roughly, 80,000 points is equivalent to $800-$1000 in travel, either through flights or hotel, so you are still winning in the end. Also, there are often other perks with sign-on bonuses like hotel credits, airport lounge access, and when I got my first, it had a year free Door Dash service! Those perks are ever changing.
  • You HAVE to be in a habit of paying off your credit card monthly. This is not completely FREE when you aren’t paying off your bills each month and getting slapped with. YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE CASH IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT TO PAY IT OFF OR YOU DON’T EARN POINTS BY JUST PAYING OFF PART OF IT!!!
  • If you find you are almost to the end of the time period and haven’t spend enough, go to an office supply store (Staples) and buy Visa gift cards. You earn 5x point credits there, so spending $1000 on a visa gift card is often worth 5000 points!
  • Travel is free, but often taxes are required to pay (just like the Price is Right!) So on a free $200 flight, you may pay $5-10 in taxes). So my “free” in the title is minus taxes and the cards annual fee.

I created another blog post specific to Southwest Airlines travel and the companion pass (which I also earned and is AWESOME,) but you really need to choose one or the other FIRST, earn the points, then try for another.

There is more flexibility with the Chase card (so I’d start with THIS Chase CARD first) because you can use it for multiple airlines, resorts, and hotels, and after I got those bonus’ I went to Southwest. Also, with Southwest, you can’t use TWO people, but you utilize a personal card PLUS a business card for the same person. Just a different way to do it.

Do you (or your spouse) have a side (or full time) business? (Utilize this as step 2 after Chase Sapphire)

If you have a business of any kind (babysitting, selling digital designs on etsy, baking cookies to sell, dog walking) you qualify for business cards, and this is a GREAT way to earn even more points for travel. RIGHT NOW, the Chase Ink Business Cash cards is offering 90,000 points by spending $6,000 in under 3 months, which is HUGE (especially more doable during the holidays)! Run and grab it asap!!!

*Confused yet? Wrapping it up!*

  • If you click on the link from your phone or Instagram sent you here, you may get a notification that says to open in the chase app, ignore that and copy and paste this link into a new browser. Strangely, Chase “hates when people apply from Instagram” and won’t give me the referral credit.
  • this is the direct link:      https://my.travelfreely.com/card?id=7&ref=kdw
  • If you don’t have a business, get the Chase Sapphire Card now. (Then refer your spouse getting referral points, and have them also get the card after).
  • If you DO have a business, get the Chase Ink Business Card, if you feel you can spend $6k in 3 months.
  • THEN, in 6 months when you’ve earned those, go for the Southwest Cards!
  • Please reach out to ask any questions (IG  @KristenDukeChats or kristenduke @ gmail.com), I’ll help you along the way!

****If you already have a Chase Sapphire card, message me about the next step, I’m working on part 2 blog post!

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