It has been entirely too long since I last wrote a points report featuring one of our readers! Today’s guest blogger is someone near and dear to my heart, my sister, Kristin. Long before I started this blog, I would excitedly text my sister anytime I got a great credit card rewards offer. She and I have enjoyed swapping credit card points stories over the years and even a few trips together!
How did you first get into credit card points?
I’ve been doing this so long, I can’t remember when I started. I’m sure I got a bonus when applying for a credit card and realized that the bonus was way more valuable to me then the ongoing $1 per point that you get. I think I got Daniel into flipping credit cards as his older and wiser sister but he might disagree.
What’s your favorite rewards card and why?
My favorite is the Chase Sapphire because of the versatility. I’ve booked travel directly on the sapphire website, transferred points to United, Marriott and Southwest. My other favorite is United because my husband books 3-4 international plane tickets a year for work and can do it on a personal card. You get 2 points per $1 spent. We usually earn a free domestic airfare ticket each year just from buying his business plane tickets on the United credit card. I also love my Banana Republic credit card. There was not a big bonus at the beginning, but it’s a great day-to-day card. You get 5% back on purchases at Old Navy, Gap, Athleta, and Banana Republic. We are a family of four and buy a lot of clothes from there. Every year I hit Luxe status (buy $800 or more of clothes from their stores) which allows me to get free shipping on any order. I’ve bought one set of $4 socks from them before and it shipped for free. I also get special discounts and coupons emailed to me because I have the card. They often run specials where you get 5% back if you use it for dining, groceries or gas.
Tell us about a memorable trip you were able to take on points and how you accomplished it?2016 was an amazing year of travel for us! We had been sitting on some points from various credit cards and we greatly utilized them last year. We also attained the Southwest Companion Pass which made travel even easier and cheaper!January: Two free airline tickets with United miles, five nights free stay at the Marriott in Aruba. This was a fantastic 15 year anniversary trip with my husband.February: I took my 5 year old son to visit his Uncle RevDan in Oklahoma. He traveled for free on the Southwest companion pass and my flight was booked using Southwest points.April: I took my 5 and 7 year old to Texas to visit my parents. My son flew for free on his companion pass and my daughter and I flew for free with Southwest points.May: Disney World in Orlando, FL. We stayed for 5 nights free at the Disney Swan hotel (a Disney resort owned by Starwood) using Starwood points. Logan flew for free and my daughter and husband flew for free with Southwest points.July: The four of us went to Kentucky for a week to visit my mother-in-law. My 7 year old daughter flew for free on the Southwest Companion pass. My five year old had a free ticket with Southwest points. We bought my ticket and we booked my husband’s ticket using chase sapphire points using a combination of points and money.
September: I took my 7 year old daughter to Houston to visit my older brother. She flew for free on the companion pass and my ticket was free with Southwest points.October: I flew to Texas for my high school class reunion. Another free ticket with southwest points!November/December: We surprised the kids and my mother-in-law with a trip to DisneyLand. We drove down and stayed for 3 nights at a Marriott resort using Marriott points and a little bit of cash to upgrade to the 2 bedroom/2 bath suite.
What do you know now about collecting miles and points that you wish you had known years ago?That it doesn’t hurt your credit and that you should have one card you never cancel to show long term credit history. Flipping cards actually helps your credit. I just checked my husband’s credit score as I was about to order a new card for him, and his score is 815! In the beginning I didn’t flip as regularly as I do now because I was worried it would hurt my credit. My Banana Republic credit card is my long term card and it shows I have long term credit history.
If you could give our readers any points advice at all, what would it be?Know how many cards you can handle!! You have to be detail oriented and know when payments are due and how much you need to spend to get your bonus. Be sure and check out RevDan’s Six Musts to flipping credit cards. I have a system I use in Quicken and keep very close watch over all of it. I have never missed a payment on a card. If you know you aren’t that detail oriented, then you need to have just one card at a time and potentially be slower to flip to the next.
Is there any parting advice or encouragement you’d like to leave us with?It’s a big world out there and it’s so much fun to explore. It’s even more fun when you do it for free!