We love to travel, but travel can be really expensive! In 2017, we visited Florida to see Melissa's grandparents (twice), England to see Peter's family, Grand Cayman for our wedding anniversary, Boston to see Melissa's parents, Illinois for a wedding, and Costa Rica for Christmas. All of these have been possible by the use of points.
Along the way, we've had friends ask us how we have done it and have encouraged us to start a blog to share with others. This year, we've helped a few friends get the Southwest Companion Pass, the greatest travel companion pass in the US- every time you fly on Southwest, your designated companion pays just the government taxes (currently $5.60) to fly with you.
Travel is not free, but it can be greatly reduced by using points. Our main source for points has been credit card rewards. Since February 2013 when we opened our first travel rewards credit card, we have opened many other cards to help "fund" our travel. Oftentimes we'll cheers JP Morgan or American Express when we're lying on the beach or landing in a new country.
We realize that many people reading this may not be able to open credit cards for one or another reasons. Maybe you live abroad where rewards cards are not that common, maybe you have had a bad experience with credit card debt in the past and don't want to get caught in that again. We respect this and look forward to sharing other tips with you that we have encountered along the way.
If you are able to sign up for credit cards, first things first.
1. Check yourself. Do not apply for any cards if you do not have the funds to pay them off. We use credit cards like we would a debit card. It is not free money!! Make sure you already have the money to pay off the items you are buying BEFORE you purchase it.
2. Get organized. Make sure you have great credit. If you don't currently have a 700+, seek out help in repairing a damaged credit file before starting to apply for travel rewards card. Rewards cards are approved by the banks to people with great credit scores.
3. Get disciplined. Make sure that you are well versed in payment due dates, statement close dates. You do not want to ever miss a payment. Tips on how we manage our multiple cards here.