As a couple we have always loved to travel but finances didn’t always agree. Neither Saidah nor I grew up in a household where our parents owned their home so buying a house was an accomplishment for us. On top of wanting to be homeowners, we were a family of six (us and our four children). Having a large family was good for the soul but not so good on the wallet. We struggled for years trying to balance schedules and monthly bills which left us feeling broke at times. However, being broke didn’t kill our dream of traveling and seeing the world.
We started seeking out information to help us better manage our money and after finding the Dave Ramsey radio show, everything began to turn around. With time, we got our finances in order, but still didn’t have money to travel like we wanted to until last year. That’s when Saidah introduced me to the idea of using credit card points for travel.
To say that I was hesitant was an understatement. We spent years under the idea that credit cards were to be avoided at all costs. Saidah had been reading up on the F.I.R.E. community (Financial Independence Retire Early) so she was open to the idea of credit cards before I was. So after finally listening and researching I was ready to take the plunge.
My first card that I opened was a Chase Sapphire Preferred. (This is our referral link) The fee for it is $95 a year and the perks greatly outweigh the cost. When I opened the card I received a 100,000 sign up bonus (or S.U.B. for short) for spending $4000 in the first 3 months. There are more perks for opening this particular card but I want to highlight the points aspect. To reach the $4000 spend required, we used the card to pay our monthly bills instead of using cash or a debit card. Once the charges were due on the card, we’d use our bill fund budget to pay off the card. We were sure to avoid spending anything beyond our budget because that would defeat the purpose.
That brings me back to two points that I forgot. The first is that I would highly recommend a written budget. The second is that the credit card balance should be paid off every month. No exceptions.
Since we were new to the idea, I needed to see the proof that this was worth it. After meeting the requirements and receiving the points I transferred 16,000 points to my World of Hyatt account and booked a weekend in downtown Greenville SC. It wasn’t overly extravagant but it was definitely a nice couples’ weekend getaway for $0 out of pocket.
After that we were on our way to this new life. Keep in mind that we used only 16,000 of the 100,000. We then began to see how we can stay in higher category hotels and maybe take a few flights. Since then, we have been to multiple places and been on multiple airlines (a few on this card and a few on others). We’ve shared several travel reviews for you on our YouTube channel.
If I had to make a quick estimate I think we have saved at least $5000 in travel cost this year alone. Now, I don’t recommend travel hacking with points and miles for everyone. If you are not currently budgeting, have a 3-6 month emergency fund and are consumer debt free, I recommend starting with a budget. We have some downloadable budget sheets for you here.
But for anyone who has their finances under control and wants to travel hack you can start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You will earn 60,000 bonus pints for signing up using our referral link. That’s enough points to book a few FREE night stay at many hotels in the U.S.
I will give updates on our journey and as I do, feel free to ask questions or join us as we share more information.