…of credit cards, that is.
While I was doing some end of the year cleaning at work last June, I stumbled upon a book called The Cheapskate’s Guide to Vacations by Stephen Tanenbaum. The word “cheapskate” immediately peaked my interest so… I took it. The book didn’t disappoint – Chapter 2 is entitled “Better than Cheap: Free Travel.” In it, Tanenbaum describes how he figured out and conquered the credit card game in order to obtain free travel to many exotic locations.
This morning, ST and I booked our flights to Dallas to watch a Cowboys game with tío Ruben. We booked via Southwest so we used the 50,000 points we banked for signing up for their Rapid Rewards Card. Plus, we had 711 points added for recent purchases on the card. The trip cost us 30,960 points and $15 (for taxes). We still have 19,751 points, plus another 250 that ST got for starting a Rapid Rewards account. Essentially, we’re flying to Dallas and back for $15. Your tío is a Cowboys season ticket holder so our tickets are free :-D The hotel will cost something like $65 per night so this will be an affordable trip.
Side note: Our experience with Southwest has been very pleasant thus far (famous last words?). I accidentally booked our return flight for the wrong date (I’ve been known to do this) and the lovely representative immediately canceled our flights and refunded our points so we could rebook for the correct times.
This made me feel immensely satisfied.
It also got me thinking about being a travel cheapskate. There are so many credit card offers these days that lure new customers with tens of thousands and even hundreds of thousands of points for the initial sign-up and spending minimum. Sometimes the annual fee is even waived for a year. Am I savvy enough to get in this game?
A quick Google search brought me to The Points Guy. Within one year, he signed up for 7 new credit cards, earned 553,500 travel points, logged $545 in fees, and must spend $15,000 within a few months to bank those points. After reading this entry and comments, I don’t want to have any part in this crazy game.
In the words of Admiral Akbar – “It’s a trap!”
Some people commented about their credit cards “sprees” and discussed how they’d have to keep track of their spending and which card had to be canceled before incurring an annual fee. Just reading all that stuff gave me a headache. Not to mention the $15,000 of debt that makes you eligible for those points. That doesn’t sound so savvy to me.
We have two credit cards that we use for all household expenses – the Chase Freedom (we’re going to cancel this at the end of the year and switch it to the free Amex Blue Cash) and Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa. The Southwest card comes with a hefty $99 annual fee but we feel it’s worth it for all the incentives. That’s enough for us.
I think that means I just beat the game :-D