Author Topic: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?  (Read 2078 times)

StacheyStache

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Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« on: January 08, 2017, 05:25:18 AM »
So I'm venturing into the world of travel hacking.  My credit score, much to my shock, is 786 (I thought it would be a lot lower due to a fairly short history and limited credit).  I started with a small BoA cash rewards card that gives me a firm 30 dollars each quarter for paying my bill on time.  Paid everything on time each month and have no debt but I know I can do better rewards wise.

Two months ago I was approved for a Chase Freedom Unlimited card.  Seeing my credit score is higher than I thought, I'd like to apply for some of the premium travel cards.  Where should I start? 

In case it matters, stuff about me:

I have a low monthly spend of 900 a month average if I put everything on the card including bf's half of the groceries (which he pays me back for in cash).  Rent unfortunately can't be paid via credit card.  Occasionally I have a one off higher month (dental work, booking a vacation etc) but 900 is about average.  I put a very small purchase on the BoA card once a month to continue to get the 120 bucks a year.

I'm not a frequent flyer.  I don't travel for business except for maybe two weekend a year to a nearby city and I've been on a plane exactly once but I'd like to change this and start traveling more.  I go on vacation about once a year.  Destinations I'm eyeing in the near future are Japan and Hawaii.

My income is around 55k including sidehustles and before taxes deductions retirement etc so I'm also not a super high earner.

I was looking at the Chase Sapphire Preferred but now that I hear the Reserve bonus offer is going away and my score is higher than I thought, should I try for that?  If I sign up now do I still have to meet the minimum spend before the offer goes away in a few days?  If I've missed out on that one,, what should I do next?

Thank you all!!

StacheyStache

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Re: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2017, 05:30:27 AM »
Also I think I know why my credit score is so high despite a short credit history...I checked my credit report for the first time and saw I apparently have been an authorized user on a card since 2004 that's never missed a payment.  I would have been in my first years of high school then and I strongly suspect this is my parents' card.  Well...I mean I would have liked to been told about that but thanks mom and dad...

MoonLiteNite

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Re: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2017, 05:35:28 AM »
Funny, i just posted something like this 3mins before you did :D

Basically same question, how is it even worth it?
If you spent 900$/mo on your card, you earn say, 1000 points, cause you get that x3 points for eating out now and then. That 1000 points is worth 10$ in flyer points.... so over 12 months, 120$.
The fee for the Sapphire reserve is 150$/yr IF you use up the travel credit, if not you are basically paying 450$/yr to save 120$, and get the fancy club thing.


I think just signing up for FREE cards, claiming the bonus by spending tons real quick, then closing the card is the only real way to gain the system. Unless you fly a ton and can rack up that x3 points (3%) then you are better off with a free 1.5-5% cashback card

Catbert

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Re: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2017, 12:46:32 PM »

cluelesswithcash

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Re: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2017, 02:07:01 PM »
Not sure a travel card will be worth it for you in the long haul since you don't travel much (taking a vacation 1 time per year where maybe you will fly is not going to get you much advantage with a travel card - you'd be better off with a cash back type of card, or maybe a Amazon card - I have an Amazon card and a Southwest Airlines card (I travel a lot) and you rack up points fast but this is only worth it if you shop on Amazon a lot, or fly Southwest a lot - otherwise do a cash back rewards card - I have one of those through Discover). 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great travel card with the bonus they are offering right now for sign up.  My significant other and I both applied separately just the other night.  His credit score is around the same as yours and he was approved online right after he signed up.  My credit score is 828 and I was obviously also approved right away.  I would suspect you would be approved right away too if you do the application online which took all of like 2 minutes. 

This credit card may be good for you in the short term, just to get the travel points to help you out with the trip you want to take to Japan/Hawaii.  Basically if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months after you sign up (so if you were approved tonight, you would need to spend $4,000 by 3 months from now) you will be awarded with 100,000 points by Chase.  Chase will also give you an extra 50,000 points if you book your flights/travel through their rewards site - which 150,000 points equals $1500.00 in travel funds booking through their travel site.  You could also opt to just take the 100,000 points and have them transferred to a partner of theirs where you will get the same point value (for example, if you travel on Southwest Airlines you could have 100,000 points transferred to your Southwest Airlines account and book flights through Southwest using the 100,000 points which could go a long way on Southwest - possibly around 5 or more round trip tickets depending where you are flying, they have other airline partners you can transfer points to as well).  For a trip overseas I would recommend booking flight through the Chase Rewards, I have read a lot online where people are scoring round trip tickets overseas at very good/discounted prices through the Chase Rewards booking site which you can only access once you've been approved.  You also get a $300 travel credit if you spend $300 on travel w/ your card, which brings down the yearly fee from $450 to $150.  There are other perks too, if you charge travel or dining out to your Chase card you will get 3 points per dollar and 1 point per dollar for any other purchases.  You can transfer those points into gift cards, cash back, amazon dollars, etc. through their rewards website too.  So if I were to charge $2,000 dollars to my card on flights, I will get 6,000 points for that - which would be over $50 in a gift card or cash back on their rewards site if I wanted to take the points for money/gift cards instead of using towards traveling again. 

You can always get the Sapphire Reserve - use the bonus points for a possible free trip overseas and cancel the card after a year, though I would advise canceling CCs shortly after getting them, can negatively affect your credit score - you'd be better served just to keep the card and throw some small reoccurring charge on it like your cell phone bill just to keep it open so it doesn't hurt your score.

CheapScholar

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Re: Getting Started in Travel Hacking: What's Next?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2017, 02:48:38 PM »
The southwest card can be a great value if you live near a southwest serviced city and you sign up during their 50,000 points offer.  The southwest card comes with a $100 annual fee.  Anyway, I have it and I love it.  I travel for work, but not too much, maybe 6 flights per year.  You earn double points on SW purchases.  You can also book hotels through SW and earn 5,000 points just for staying in certain hotels.  These offers are usually not the best value, but I don't mind booking these hotels if I'm expensing from my employer and it's not absurd.

Anyway, the points add up faster than I realized.  I've had the card for maybe 2 years and I have 110,000 points, which will fly me to Las Vegas in May and my family of 3 to SLC in July with points to spare.  Beyond the card being decent, SW offers great service in my opinion, especially as a frugal traveler.  First, bags fly free (we've all seen the commercials).  Second, you can rebook your flights on SW a few times if you see a lower rate without penalty.  This can really save you money and points if you stay a bit vigilant.  Another thing:  southwest has a decent bump rate.  If you want to be a frugal traveler you'll want to learns the ins and outs of getting bumped.  SW bumps and they are generous with the reward IMO.

Finally, SW will not get you to Japan.  It might get you to Hawaii in a few years according to rumors.  My last remark would be to think wisely about how you save/spend for travel.  It could take you a long long time to save points/miles to get you to Japan without a job that includes serous travel.  You could get a SW card and see a whole lot of America if you spend your points wisely (example, I often see flights from my airport in Chicago to places like Denver for under 2,000 pts each way).