Author Topic: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?  (Read 1342 times)

LG89

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Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« on: January 29, 2019, 06:53:54 AM »
Hi everyone,

I have a milestone birthday coming up this year and 8k that will be spent on grad school tuition (side rant: last semester thank god, these instructors are so unprofessional I'm glad I'll be done soon). I have the cash to pay this off immediately but I'm wondering how best to go about optimizing this spending. Last semester I was able to put the 8k on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and combined with my prior bonus earning on the Chase Preferred I'll be able to almost entirely pay for a destination wedding plane tickets (value of $1500 which is great because tickets cost a little over that).

I'm a little commitment phobic and haven't figured out what I want to do, only that I'll be traveling solo as a woman. Ideas on the table: Japan, Ireland, Cruise, Kenya, South Africa, Montreal, Prince Edward Island (yes I was obsessed with Anne of Green Gables as a child), the list could probably go on.

So any idea on how I should optimize this 8k that I have to spend? Are there any good bonuses for hotel/resort stays? Any thoughts on the destinations (suggestions welcome)? I most likely will only have less than 5 days vacation to use so that probably rules out Asian and African countries. I have been to Greece, Italy, Peru and loved it. Italy was a bit too expensive for my taste but I definitely don't regret going.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2019, 06:32:06 PM by LG89 »

Captain FIRE

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2019, 07:23:20 AM »
I am confused.  Why do you *have to* spend the 8k?  Why not bank it/pay off the grad school loan?  This seems the wrong site to be talking about *having to* spend $8k on a vacation.

frugaldrummer

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2019, 07:52:23 AM »
I believe what she means is that she has to spend $8k on tuition and would like to travel hack that spending so that she gets something back like miles or cash back on a cc so that she can use the reward for travel.

Sugaree

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2019, 07:56:18 AM »
Can you split tuition between a couple of cards?  Most SUBs are in the $1-4k range, so if you can split it between cards, you can get more than one SUB.

NotJen

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2019, 09:08:19 AM »
Have you considered Iceland?  Shortish flight if you’re on the east coast, and easy to travel solo (though I used bus tours, which can get expensive).  Otherwise, Canada seems like a good idea with your limited timeframe.

I would try to split the charge onto 2 cards - one to get your airfare for free, and one to get the most free hotel nights possible.  Getting free hotel stays is harder for me - I usually use hotel card bonuses for single-night stays.  Look into Barclay Arrival+, Capital One Venture, Bank of America Premier Rewards, and American Express Member Rewards earning cards.  You should be able to get at least $500 off hotels that are bookable through their interface that way.

LG89

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2019, 01:50:54 PM »
I am confused.  Why do you *have to* spend the 8k?  Why not bank it/pay off the grad school loan?  This seems the wrong site to be talking about *having to* spend $8k on a vacation.

@Captain FIRE I don't have any grad school loans. I'm trying to maximize credit card rewards. I pay my school directly and my employer reimburses me. I have to spend 8k on tuition. Last semester I paid the 8k tuition and got enough points for a round trip flight for halfway across the world for a wedding.

Can you split tuition between a couple of cards?  Most SUBs are in the $1-4k range, so if you can split it between cards, you can get more than one SUB.

Yep, I definitely can. I had to look up SUB (sign up bonus) but that's probably the best thing to do. I've gotten the barclay's card, an amex one (long time ago I forget which one) and a discover card in the past.

Have you considered Iceland?  Shortish flight if you’re on the east coast, and easy to travel solo (though I used bus tours, which can get expensive).  Otherwise, Canada seems like a good idea with your limited timeframe.

I would try to split the charge onto 2 cards - one to get your airfare for free, and one to get the most free hotel nights possible.  Getting free hotel stays is harder for me - I usually use hotel card bonuses for single-night stays.  Look into Barclay Arrival+, Capital One Venture, Bank of America Premier Rewards, and American Express Member Rewards earning cards.  You should be able to get at least $500 off hotels that are bookable through their interface that way.

This is a good idea. I seem to always focus on miles and I've never incurred any hotel rewards. I've had the Cap1 Venture and Barclar's so I'm not sure if I'm going to be eligible. It was over a year ago though. I'm on the east coast and definitely have thought about Iceland but everyone has said it's super expensive so I'm not sure if I'll feel relaxed if I go, haha!



LG89

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2019, 12:46:58 PM »
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.

You could go with the Capital One Savor for one of the cards, and you'll have $500 toward travel expenses. 

https://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/savor-dining-rewards/?external_id=WWW_ZM761_ZZZ_ONL-SE_ZZZGO_T_SEM2_ZZZZ_c_Zg_65fca07e-8ce7-4517-9904-eaa666fc2696_287555129981_369673&target_id=kwd-435037179767&gclid=Cj0KCQiAkMDiBRDNARIsACKP1FHbD0TMEAGoHGgI-kibJFCHha1bky2izLvBRezLMYUfkDSNQ3aR7csaAu5EEALw_wcB

Oops somehow missed this recommendation. This might be a good option since I've already signed up for the Cap1 Venture card and may not get it a second time. Thanks!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 06:50:55 AM by LG89 »

Goldy

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2019, 01:38:09 PM »
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.

I have it and found the perks to be pretty good.  Free bags for everyone in your group plus a free companion ticket anywhere in the lower 48.  The only frustration I have is that companion fair doesn't seem to save you as much money as you would think and since we have a pile of points we have been doing more international trips so the companion fair has not been used as of yet.

I think I might have a referral to get you an extra 10k points which also gives me 10k points.  I'll see if I can find it and send you a PM.

LG89

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2019, 04:15:53 PM »
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.

I have it and found the perks to be pretty good.  Free bags for everyone in your group plus a free companion ticket anywhere in the lower 48.  The only frustration I have is that companion fair doesn't seem to save you as much money as you would think and since we have a pile of points we have been doing more international trips so the companion fair has not been used as of yet.

I think I might have a referral to get you an extra 10k points which also gives me 10k points.  I'll see if I can find it and send you a PM.

Thanks! I think we're talking about two different cards. The link you sent me is for the Delta Platinum card and the fee is only $195. The Platinum Card's fee is $550.

https://thepointsguy.com/guide/amex-platinum-review/

NotJen

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2019, 09:14:55 PM »
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.
The high fee makes it not worth it for me.  I have an Ameriprise Platinum with the fee waived the first year, but it doesn’t have a sign up bonus.  Also, how are you finding 60k MR to be worth $1.2k?  Oh - maybe if you include the airline incidentals, Saks, and Uber credit?  I use some of these credits, but generally not for things I would purchase anyway, so it wouldn’t offset the annual fee for me.

I think you might have trouble getting the Capital One or Barclays cards a second time.  Barclays got a lot stricter in terms of how many cards per year they find acceptable for you to get.  And Capital One gave me one card many years ago, but no more (I think my credit score may be too go for them).  I’d prioritize other cards before trying these, if possible.

Goldy

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2019, 09:24:22 PM »
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.

I have it and found the perks to be pretty good.  Free bags for everyone in your group plus a free companion ticket anywhere in the lower 48.  The only frustration I have is that companion fair doesn't seem to save you as much money as you would think and since we have a pile of points we have been doing more international trips so the companion fair has not been used as of yet.

I think I might have a referral to get you an extra 10k points which also gives me 10k points.  I'll see if I can find it and send you a PM.

Thanks! I think we're talking about two different cards. The link you sent me is for the Delta Platinum card and the fee is only $195. The Platinum Card's fee is $550.

https://thepointsguy.com/guide/amex-platinum-review/

Apologies, I misinterpreted that card.  The $550 fee is tough to swallow but if you take Uber at least once a month and are willing to pay cash for a flight instead of miles it brings the fee down to an effective $150.  I don’t take Uber that often so that card wouldn’t work very well for me.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 11:40:47 PM »
American holidays are insane, 5 days?!!  Ok, here’s what I’d do, leave on a Weds after work, stay for a week, returning the following Weds as late as possible.

Then, I’d look at the South of Spain. You could do Cadiz, Sevilla and Morocco (although I’d stick to Spain). Since it’s Sept, it should still be nice and warm then but not oppressive. There’s lots to see there and very affordable. Also, relatively close to the US so you won’t be flying forever. You could even pop into Portugal.

Have fun!

chasesfish

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2019, 05:20:50 AM »
Nice!  I actually have a blog post I wrote scheduled to go live because I "just" did this with my property taxes on four total cards.  In your situation I'd do this:

Barclay's Arrival Card and a Capital One Savior Card.

Put $3k on the Capital One Savior Card and they'll send you a cash back check for $530 including your spend + signup bonus.  Its the easiest money out there.

Barclay's has around $730 in flexible rewards for $5k in spend.   You can book airBNBs, rental cars, ect, then just offset the charge with their travel credit.

Both waive the first year's fee.  The capital one you should do, get your check, payoff, and cancel.

LG89

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Re: Need to Spend 8k - Travel Optimization?
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2019, 06:45:18 AM »
Edited 2/4/19

Finally got around to applying for two cards. I decided to give the Cap1 and Barclay's a shot and I get them both! Thanks everyone!
I think I'll be leaning towards PEI or Spain (cities suggested by MrThatsDifferent), or Iceland or... ugh can't really make up my mind I guess.

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Instantly approved
Bonus: 50k miles, spend $3k first three months.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
Pending, called and got approved (turns out last time I had this card was summer of '16 - so not that recent!)
Bonus: 70k bonus miles, spend $5k first three months

-----
Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.
The high fee makes it not worth it for me.  I have an Ameriprise Platinum with the fee waived the first year, but it doesn’t have a sign up bonus.  Also, how are you finding 60k MR to be worth $1.2k?  Oh - maybe if you include the airline incidentals, Saks, and Uber credit?  I use some of these credits, but generally not for things I would purchase anyway, so it wouldn’t offset the annual fee for me.

I think you might have trouble getting the Capital One or Barclays cards a second time.  Barclays got a lot stricter in terms of how many cards per year they find acceptable for you to get.  And Capital One gave me one card many years ago, but no more (I think my credit score may be too go for them).  I’d prioritize other cards before trying these, if possible.

I got the 1.2k number from this article, https://thepointsguy.com/guide/is-amex-platinum-worth-fee/:

"However, based on TPG’s current valuations, American Express Membership Rewards points are worth approximately 2 cents apiece. This makes the 60,000-point welcome bonus worth about $1,200."

Maybe things have changed and it's no longer worth that much. As for the Cap1 and Barclays I was thinking that could be an issue with getting the card again. I've actually held the Barclay's card twice already now too and the Cap1 Venture once.

Does anyone here have "The Platinum Card® from American Express"? There's a 60k SUB (spend 5k in 3mos) worth about $1.2k but there's an annual $550 fee which makes me question whether it's worth it despite all the nice perks/rewards of the card.

I have it and found the perks to be pretty good.  Free bags for everyone in your group plus a free companion ticket anywhere in the lower 48.  The only frustration I have is that companion fair doesn't seem to save you as much money as you would think and since we have a pile of points we have been doing more international trips so the companion fair has not been used as of yet.

I think I might have a referral to get you an extra 10k points which also gives me 10k points.  I'll see if I can find it and send you a PM.

Thanks! I think we're talking about two different cards. The link you sent me is for the Delta Platinum card and the fee is only $195. The Platinum Card's fee is $550.

https://thepointsguy.com/guide/amex-platinum-review/

Apologies, I misinterpreted that card.  The $550 fee is tough to swallow but if you take Uber at least once a month and are willing to pay cash for a flight instead of miles it brings the fee down to an effective $150.  I don’t take Uber that often so that card wouldn’t work very well for me.

No worries, appreciate the input. The uber perk IS very nice and something to consider..

American holidays are insane, 5 days?!!  Ok, here’s what I’d do, leave on a Weds after work, stay for a week, returning the following Weds as late as possible.

Then, I’d look at the South of Spain. You could do Cadiz, Sevilla and Morocco (although I’d stick to Spain). Since it’s Sept, it should still be nice and warm then but not oppressive. There’s lots to see there and very affordable. Also, relatively close to the US so you won’t be flying forever. You could even pop into Portugal.

Have fun!

Lol yea it's not great but I actually dont have it that bad! I'm switching jobs so I only get 24 days of vacation this year and about 11/12 will be going to the destination wedding. So I figure for my birthday 5 days isn't too terrible although I would really have loved to go to Thailand or Japan =[

I just saw some cheap flights to Spain so it's a wonderful coincidence to see your recommendation! Thanks!

Nice!  I actually have a blog post I wrote scheduled to go live because I "just" did this with my property taxes on four total cards.  In your situation I'd do this:

Barclay's Arrival Card and a Capital One Savior Card.

Put $3k on the Capital One Savior Card and they'll send you a cash back check for $530 including your spend + signup bonus.  Its the easiest money out there.

Barclay's has around $730 in flexible rewards for $5k in spend.   You can book airBNBs, rental cars, ect, then just offset the charge with their travel credit.

Both waive the first year's fee.  The capital one you should do, get your check, payoff, and cancel.

If I could get the cards this sounds like a solid plan! Link to your blog post once you post?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 08:13:20 PM by LG89 »