I get asked this question all the time. If you don’t know us, I am a public educator and my husband works as a non-profit conservationist. Our budget isn’t super big when it comes to travel, but we still manage 3-4 trips a year including a longer one in the summer. And we could probably do more if not for my limited ability to travel during the school year.
People are always asking us how. So, I’m finally going to share it here. And it’s pretty simple. It’s all about credit card points.
We use the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s annual fee of $450 can seem daunting, but if you travel at least once a year, this should not stop you. Here is why:
- You immediately get $300 back as a travel credit. Book a flight, hotel, train, rental car, etc. and that will be erased immediately on your bill up to $300. That takes the cost down to $150.
- The card will cover your Global Entry fee ($100) which includes TSA Pre-Check ($85). Well, that’s the rest of the fee. If you use just those two perks, it balances out the whole fee. Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check will get you through security and customs much quicker!
- Chase’s website for booking flights is easy to use and comparable in prices. Using it allows your points to go farther AND then you earn even more points while purchasing. We flew to Europe for $75 total last summer, and this year we paid $190 total. Each of those flights were multiple stop and not round trip which are typically more expensive.
- Insurance! When we were looking into travel insurance, we learned our health insurance would reimburse most of what the travel insurance covered for healthcare (you would have to look into yours separately). Then, the CSR card covered many of the other parts of travel insurance such as canceled flights, lost bags, car rental insurance, etc. Due to this, we have never purchased travel insurance.
- Most importantly, we put EVERYTHING we can on our credit card. We pay it off monthly, but put about 90% of all our expenses on the card. Since we spend a lot of our money on eating out and travel, we needed a card that gave us max points for our big expenses. This card gives us TRIPLE points for both, so we are always earning as much as possible. It’s like a game, and I LOVE games. How can I earn more points 🙂
- While at the airport, the card comes with a membership to Priority Pass, so we can access certain lounges for free or at a discount. Not bad for those long layovers. We haven’t used this feature yet, but our friends did this year on their 38 (!) hour travel day to Africa and highly recommended using it in the future!
- Finally, this card also has one of the biggest starting bonuses. Currently, you get 50,000 if you spend a minimum of $4000 in the first three months. That translates to $750 in flights! You can use points for other things, but we always find their best value is in flights.
My motto is — If you have to spend money, you might as well make something back.
That’s what credit cards do for us. We are smart and committed to paying it off every month, so we aren’t losing those points to interest payments. Additionally, we are always looking for ways to add bills and other expenses to the card.
Before you go, another tip — we are always looking for other deals. Our friends told us about the Hyatt card, and it helped us earn four free nights at ANY level Hyatt in the world. We temporarily did not use our Chase Sapphire Reserve, and put all our expenses on the Hyatt cards until we earned the bonus, then switched back. In cases like these, both of us get a card to get the biggest bonus possible. It may seem like a lot of work, but when we earned four free nights at ANY level Hyatt in the world, it didn’t seem too bad. Which will come in very handy on our 18 day trip this summer 🙂
If I’ve convinced you, give it a try! No one has paid me for this. I just get asked this all the time, and I feel like sharing as it has created so many opportunities for my husband and I to see the world. If you do register, help me earn some points. You now know how much I love them 🙂 Here is my referral code.
I’ll be back soon to share about our latest travels. There are a lot of exciting stops coming in 2018!