In May of 2016 I received a question from one of my readers, Larry. He was interested in traveling to Spain with his girlfriend and daughter and wanted to do it for as cheap as possible. His question led to the following blog post where I tried to show Larry how he could do his trip on mostly credit card points. I honestly didn’t expect to hear from Larry again, but was thrilled to see on Facebook last month that he had in fact done his trip to Spain! I asked him to help me with the following blog post:
How did you first get into credit card points?
I stumbled across a post from The Points Preacher that I saw shared on Facebook. I reached out to RevDan and asked him if I could do an international trip on points. Within a day he had created a plan that showed me how to do a two week international trip for three for about $500! That was all I needed to see and I began my journey at that point…
What’s your favorite rewards card and why?
My favorite card so far has been the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I signed up for this card when they were offering 100,000 sign-up points. Their increased points on dining help curve the exchange rate while in Europe. The travel credits came in handy for short flights between countries. The flexibility of being able to transfer points to other rewards programs is another great perk of this card. I would definitely recommend the Sapphire Reserve OR the Sapphire Preferred Card.
Tell us about a memorable trip you were able to take on points and how you accomplished it.
As soon as I saw the plan RevDan crafted for me, I began signing up for credit cards. I signed up for the following cards over the next 6 months:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 100,000 points
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50,000 points
- United Mileage Plus Card: 50,000 points
- Chase Marriott Card: 80,000 points
After all of my sign-up bonuses plus my regular spending I had accrued 335,000 points across my four cards! The first thing I did was book three round trip tickets from OKC to Madrid, Spain using 180,000 United points (don’t forget that both Sapphire cards allow you to transfer points to your United rewards account!). Rather then bore you with the details of all of the legs of our travel, I’ll just give you some highlights:
I booked one way flights from Madrid to Jerez, Spain where we met up with some of our friends who joined us for the next week of our vacation. From Jerez we flew to Zurich, Switzerland.
After three nights in Milan we took a train to Venice.
After getting engaged, we moved on to Rome and stayed for two nights. We then flew from Rome to Paris where we stayed at the amazing Paris Marriott Opera Ambassador Hotel.
After two nights in Paris we began making our way back to Madrid for our return flight to OKC. All in all we accomplished a 16 day trip to 5 different countries, with 9 destinations, for 335,000 points and $1,984 out of pocket (including credit card annual fees). The retail cost of our trip had we paid all out of pocket would have been nearly $10,000! With one or two additional cards and a few less upgrades (that I paid out of pocket), we could have done this entire trip for less than $500!
If you could give our readers any points advice at all, what would it be?
If I had any advice, it would be, stay detailed with your renewal dates, extra fees, booking dates, etc. I made a few mistakes along the way that could have cost thousands. Most importantly: do not spend outside of your means and follow RevDan’s important rules for using credit cards.
Is there any parting advice or encouragement you’d like to leave our readers with?
Don’t let the complexity of it scare you away. There are thousands of dollars in free money waiting on the other side…
I want to say thank you to Larry for helping us out with today’s blog post and also want to congratulate him on his incredible trip and the ingenuity he used to get him there. Lastly, congratulations on your engagement, I know a guy who does weddings….