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Traveling for FREE with Credit Card Offers!

I didn’t realize it at first but I discovered that I LOVE traveling. I blame it on my childhood. We moved around a lot. I went to three high schools for example. Naturally, I’m just curious though. I enjoy discovering things that are unknown (to me). Reading books on historic places is cool, but what’s amazing is getting to actually see these places and hearing stories from the locals who live near them.

International travel isn’t cheap, but thanks to a few banks it can be. One method to gain free travel besides being a commercial pilot’s child is to signup for credit cards for their bonus miles offers.

Warning: If you’re planning on a large purchase such as a house in the next year, I wouldn’t recommend doing this. Also you should have a decently high credit score (700+).

I signed up for two from Chase. The Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer cards.

The MileagePlus Explorer card came with 50,000 bonus miles and a $50 statement credit after spending $2,000 in the first three months and 5,000 extra miles for adding someone else on your account and making a single purchase. The miles accumulated with this card can only be used for United’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program. You get 1 mile for every dollar spent and 2 miles for every dollar spent on United flights purchased. There is no foreign transaction fee which is amazing and there is a $95 annual fee. You also get priority boarding, 2 United Club passes each year (I haven’t used them yet) and your first checked bag is free. When it’s all said and done, I’ll be closing this account before the first year is up.

My favored card of the two is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. You get 2 points for every dollar spent on dining and travel (plane, train, bus tickets, Airbnb, uber, taxi’s, etc). If you book your plane tickets and hotels at Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Store, then you get an extra point on top of that. No foreign transaction fees, you get a person as soon as you call the number on the back of the card. The bonus for this card is 40,000 miles after $3,000 spend within 3 months and an extra 5,000 if you add an authorized user and they make a purchase. There is a $95 annual fee, but I don’t mind. You can take the points and transfer them to many different airline mileage programs including United, Korean Air, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and others. You could use your points in the Chase Ultimate Rewards Store, but you get much more value by transferring them. Each point is pretty much valued at $0.01 in the store. So here’s an example:

My favorite destinations right now are in Europe. For $1,076, I can fly round-trip from Los Angeles to London on United Airlines. If I use my points in Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Store, I will need 107,600 points, but If I transfer 60,000 points to United’s MileagePlus program, then I can take that same trip saving 47,600 points.

If you are interested in the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can apply here (Disclaimer: I get 5,000 points if you are approved so let me know if you use this link. I’d be grateful).

Both of these cards are Visa Signature cards, so they come with a suite of purchase protections and insurance when you use them including auto rental collision, trip cancellation, travel accident, lost luggage, and more.

Later this month, I will be applying for Chase’s Ink Cash card for business and using it to remodel my condo. This card only has a 20,000 bonus right now and isn’t included in the Ultimate Rewards, but since I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, I can transfer these points into Ultimate Rewards points :) I originally planned to apply for the Ink Plus, but this is a purchase that I won’t be paying for in full and the Ink Cash comes with 12 months of 0% interest so I can rent out my condo and take my time paying it down after it is remodeled. I’ll get the Ink Plus later for another bonus :) After I’m done with Chase, I’ll probably move on to Citi or Barclays. Stay tuned on that one.

How does this affect your credit?

You’ll see a slight dip in your credit score initially, and it should rebound within a couple of months. You get dinged for the credit pulls. It rebounds because it increases the amount of credit available to you and the more accounts you have the better your credit profile looks (it’ll seem like you can handle more credit without any issues). Your average age of account will cause your score to go down a couple of points, but this is a very minor factor on your score overall. Since June when I applied for both cards, I lost 12 points and gained 8 back as of today.

You really shouldn’t do this if you don’t plan on paying off the balance immediately. You’ll end up negating the value of the points you earn simply by paying interest on a balance. Some might consider this as gaming the banks, but if you live in America, then you should know the banks have gamed the general public for a very long time – so call it payback. I did however, open a checking account with Chase so it doesn’t make it look so bad (there was a $300 bonus for setting one up… why not).

If you need help monitoring your credit, you can do so at Credit Karma for FREE.

I have to give credit to Million Mile SecretsTravel Sort, The Points Guy, and Nerd Wallet for cluing me in on this tactic in much more detail.

If you have any tips for free travel outside of getting a sugar daddy/mama, then by all means feel free to drop me a line and share.

Any thoughts?