Author Topic: Vacation Hack  (Read 1538 times)

JustGettingStarted1980

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Vacation Hack
« on: July 27, 2017, 01:20:53 PM »
So i signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card in early 2016 to try my hand at travel hacking.

For $450 yearly fee and a 4-5K spend need in 3 months, I got $300 x 2 in travel credits (both used already), 100,000 Ultimate Rewards Points that translates to $1500 in hotel or flight costs via their portal, and a myriad of travel insurance/car insurance benefits that I haven't needed to use yet.

So I forgot about this for 9 months because I though I would save it for international flight to Spain or Portugal or something similar. But who am I kidding? I have 3 kids under 7, one of which is less than 3 months old, I ain't doing no international travel.

So on a last minute lark I see what hotels are available for a trip to the beach I was thinking about taking in August.

I just got 7 nights at a decent Hotel for absolutely free! And I still got a third of my Ultimate Rewards points.

So that makes $1K in hotels, $600 in travel expenses compensated, for a total of $450. I'd say I'm way ahead at this point.

I just might try this travel hacking a little more in the future, hmmmmm

lexde

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2017, 08:08:50 AM »
Awesome! I could kick myself for not grabbing the CSR when it had the 100k offer. I got it in May and have already used the travel credit for this year and it has more than made up for the AF. Sounds like you made an ideal cash out of points!


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ketchup

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2017, 08:54:57 AM »
I didn't nab the CSR, but earlier this year, my GF and I did go a bit nuts with this and combined managed to get: Alaska Airlines (x2), Barclay AA (x2), Avianca Vuela, CSP, CFU, PRG, SPG, SPG Business, Merril+, Amex ED, BCP, and Citi AA, for a total of about half a million various points.  Plus a few new cashback cards without signup bonuses.

So far all I've redeemed is 60,000 Southwest miles (transferred from Chase) for a would-have-been-$900 last minute trip to Reno, and 8,000 SPG points for $400 total off four nights in a Four Points in Kalamazoo. Next up we'll probably be transferring some Amex MRs to British Airways during their 40% transfer bonus, for a trip to Europe next year.  Not sure what we'll be doing with the rest, but we've got plenty.

MasterStache

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2017, 09:52:15 AM »
Good work OP. Always nice to take a vaca on the cheap. We are already planning several trips over the next couple years using points. Some of them will coincide with kids out of town activities. It's easy to get hooked on travel hacking/churning.

JustGettingStarted1980

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2017, 10:16:52 AM »
I didn't nab the CSR, but earlier this year, my GF and I did go a bit nuts with this and combined managed to get: Alaska Airlines (x2), Barclay AA (x2), Avianca Vuela, CSP, CFU, PRG, SPG, SPG Business, Merril+, Amex ED, BCP, and Citi AA, for a total of about half a million various points.  Plus a few new cashback cards without signup bonuses.

So far all I've redeemed is 60,000 Southwest miles (transferred from Chase) for a would-have-been-$900 last minute trip to Reno, and 8,000 SPG points for $400 total off four nights in a Four Points in Kalamazoo. Next up we'll probably be transferring some Amex MRs to British Airways during their 40% transfer bonus, for a trip to Europe next year.  Not sure what we'll be doing with the rest, but we've got plenty.

Wholey Jesus! A million points! Okay I'm the amateur here, obviously.

I'm working on the Companion Pass for SW, and when that's complete I was looking at Marriot for further road trips with nice hotel stays.  Could you explain all those other cards a bit more, and what the benefit would be?

ketchup

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2017, 11:58:23 AM »
I didn't nab the CSR, but earlier this year, my GF and I did go a bit nuts with this and combined managed to get: Alaska Airlines (x2), Barclay AA (x2), Avianca Vuela, CSP, CFU, PRG, SPG, SPG Business, Merril+, Amex ED, BCP, and Citi AA, for a total of about half a million various points.  Plus a few new cashback cards without signup bonuses.

So far all I've redeemed is 60,000 Southwest miles (transferred from Chase) for a would-have-been-$900 last minute trip to Reno, and 8,000 SPG points for $400 total off four nights in a Four Points in Kalamazoo. Next up we'll probably be transferring some Amex MRs to British Airways during their 40% transfer bonus, for a trip to Europe next year.  Not sure what we'll be doing with the rest, but we've got plenty.

Wholey Jesus! A million points! Okay I'm the amateur here, obviously.

I'm working on the Companion Pass for SW, and when that's complete I was looking at Marriot for further road trips with nice hotel stays.  Could you explain all those other cards a bit more, and what the benefit would be?
Half a million, but yeah, still pretty nutty.  I went overboard.  I didn't really have a plan for most of them when I did it, so at the moment we're still sitting on most of the points.  My main strategy was along the lines of "Anything worth doing is worth over-doing."

The cards were (same order as above):
Alaska Airlines (x2): 1x miles base spend, 3x miles on Alaska flights, 30,000 bonus Alaska miles after $1000 in spend in the first 3mo.
Barclay AA Aviator (x2): 1x miles base spend, 2x miles on American flights, 40,000 AA bonus miles after first purchase (no minimum).
Avianca Vuela: 1x miles base spend, 2x miles on gas/groceries, 3x on Avianca flights, 60,000 bonus LifeMiles after first purchase (no minimum).
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1x base spend, 2x on dining and travel, 50,000 bonus Chase UR points after $4000 spend in 3mo. (additional 5,000 URs for adding an authorized user; I added my dog)
Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1.5x all spend, 15,000 bonus Chase UR points after $500 spend in 3mo. (additional 2,500 URs for adding an authorized user; I added my other dog)
Premiere Rewards Gold Amex: 1x base, 2x dining/gas/groceries, 3x airfare, 50,000 Amex MR points after $2000 spend in 3mo.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex: 1x base, 25,000 SPG points after $3000 in spend in first 3mo, 10,000 more after $2000 additional spend in the first six months total.
SPG Amex Business: 1x base, 25,000 SPG points after $5000 spend in first 3mo, 10,000 more after $3000 additional spend in the first six months total.
Merrill+: 1x base, 50,000 points (worth 1c or up to 2c towards flights) after $3,000 in spend in the first 3mo.
Amex EveryDay: 1x base, 2x groceries, 10,000 Amex MR points after $1000 in spend in first 3mo.
Amex BlueCash Preferred: 1% base cashback, 3% on gas, 6% on groceries, $150 statement credit after $1000 in spend.
Citi AAdvantage: 1x base, 2x American Airlines flights, 50,000 AA miles after $3000 in spend in first 3mo.

We had some large planned (and unplanned...) expenses the first half of this year that helped meet the minimums, plus a lot of it was business spending (girlfriend is self employed), with a dash of MS on the side.  All minimum spends have been met except the back half of the SPG Business card (still have about another 2k to go there).

Main only other benefits that I care about on some of these cards are primary damage waiver on rental car, trip delay and checked luggage insurance, and free checked bags and priority boarding on American (girlfriend flies a lot for work, and likes priority boarding so that she doesn't have to check her carryon with her fancy camera gear in it).

greenmimama

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Re: Vacation Hack
« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2017, 08:19:51 AM »
Yay for free trips, I used Brad and Alexis methods from Richmond savers and took my family of 5 to Disneyworld, flight, hotel and tickets and rental car for a total of $166.
We had a blast.