Americans have two favorite words. The first being bacon, and the close second is the word ‘free’.
If you have been dreaming of visiting the castles of Germany or the Alps of Switzerland, getting over there without spending thousands of dollars is entirely possible. Actually, getting over there without spending $100 is possible.
So what’s the secret?
A good investment of a travel credit card.
I know you may be thinking; “A credit card? No way, that’s all a scam and I would rather stay debt free.”
Well if that’s your opinion I am going to love proving you wrong (with my personal example of course).
Earlier this year when I got serious about travel blogging, I knew I was way overdue to invest in a travel credit card. Of course, I had my doubts. I had one credit card that was issued from my bank, which I rarely used and was skeptical of investing in another one. I mean, I mainly used my debit card and was afraid of stocking up on too much plastic in my wallet.
I finally decided to make the change after getting one of the many credit card offers from American Airlines in my mail. The package stated that if you signed up for the card with the specific code, you were eligible to receive up to 50,000 bonus miles. And for those of you who don’t know how airline miles work; round trip tickets in the U.S. cost about 25,000 miles and a round trip ticket to Europe is usually around 40,000 with American Airlines (These costs rise around peak flying times).
Of course the offer came with circumstances. The first 40,000 miles would only be incurred if you spent $1,500 in purchases in the first three months and the last 10,000 would be awarded if you spent $3,000 in the first year. The amount scared me for longest time and when I had received previous offers like this, it was the reason I always held back. However, I finally realized that it was entirely possible because I had always spent that much on my normal budget but never through credit.
With the offer I also got the first year fee waived. Normally credit cards with points have an annual fee, for the AAdvantage card I use it’s around $90, but with the deal my first 12 months were completely free.
So I got the card, stopped using my bank one and started purchasing everything on it. I didn’t care if it was a $2.00 bag of Candy or a $1,000 camera investment.
It’s also important to remember that every dollar you spend is also a point. $1,500 dollars in purchases is also 1,500 points toward an award ticket.
I started using the Citibank American Airlines AAdvantage card in February and now less than four months later, I’ve received my bonuses and incurred over 60,000 miles. Which is more than enough points for a round trip ticket to Ireland, or many other places around the world.
So when looking to start a travel credit card:
- Bonus points are key. The more being offered, the better. American Airlines usually gives out no less than 30,000 as a sign up bonus. These are going to be what gives you the ability for a fast free flight.
- Although this goes for any credit card, be careful with plastic. Pay off your bill in FULL every month. Don’t let the idea of a good deal sink you into debt. It’s not worth it.
- Pick the card that benefits you the most. There are dozens of credit cards that offer points and offers, for me, I used the card from American Airlines since I was already a member of their flyer mile points.
- Look for other point deals. Emails will come frequently stating something like “triple the points on purchases from ‘X’ company” or “Earn a bonus 3,000 points when renting a car from Hertz in the next month”. If any of them fit something you need, take advantage of the deal.
- Miles are also earned taking other flights. I earned 23,000 miles flying round trip to Australia, so other flights are a great way to add miles to your account. This was the first way I started in a mileage program and have gotten free domestic round-trip tickets just from flyer-miles alone.
- It usually takes a month or so for points to be updated on your account, they are not automatic. Also, points do not cover airline fees; which is the only thing you will have to pay for on your flight.
The concept is easier than you think, and as long as you have some bills or living expenses the spending catch is not as crazy as it may look in writing. Just make sure you commit to using to the card on every purchase. I’m a college student on a college budget and I managed, so you can too.
With the right tools travel expenses can be drastically reduced, you just have to be willing to work and find the ways. But of course, I’m here to make it a little easier on you.So start planning your dream trip! Once you decide where to go, research the card the suits your needs the best, collect your bonus miles and jet off on the trip of a lifetime! Life is all about finding opportunities and knowing how to take them. Happy Travels!