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It’s been a while since I’ve written a travel hacking post, but I’ve had a few people ask how the “hacking” is going. So, here’s an update on how my new favorite hobby!
Hack #1: Southwest Plus and Premier credit cards. I earned 110,000 Southwest points to redeem for free flights plus earned the Companion Pass for a family member or friend to fly free with me from when I earned in (in October 2016) through December 31, 2017. We had planned to use those flights for a trip to Vermont last December, but had to cancel due to some major car repairs. Then, we planned to use those flights for our first anniversary trip to Aruba, which we had to cancel due to our surprise move this summer. However, I did use some of my 110,000 points to/from Dallas for the Mil-Blogging and FinCon conferences in October (worth $290) and a trip back to Kentucky for my Mamaw’s 75th birthday (worth $320.) We are hoping that Andy can get leave in December so we can fly home for Christmas using the Companion Pass; in fact, I already booked the flights home for Christmas (and can get my points refunded if we need to cancel because Andy can’t get leave.)
My thoughts on “hacking'” Southwest: I love having the 110,000 points for about 6-ish free flights for me, but the free flights for a year for Andy turned out to be not as valuable for us due to his unpredictable work schedule this year (which we did not anticipate.) I think it would be a better fit for a military family with kids, like Erica’s. I know Erica has used her Companion Pass to travel home many times with just her and her kiddos. Eventually, I’d like to try for the pass again, possibly having Andy try for it in 2018 so we can have it again for 2018-2019. I actually canceled both of these cards before I found out about our move, since I thought we wouldn’t be flying anytime soon. Boy, was I wrong about that!
Hack #2: Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Both Andy and I opened up this card. Between the two of us, we earned about 120,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. We planned to use those for an AirBnB in Aruba for our anniversary, but as I mentioned before, we had to cancel this trip due to the needs of the Army. The good news is these points are incredibly flexible and can be transferred through a number of airlines and hotels or can be redeemed inside of the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, and the points do not expire unless you cancel your card. Both Andy and I loved our CSP cards and plan to keep them for the long-haul!
Thoughts on “hacking” Chase Sapphire Preferred card: I love how flexible Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points are. I definitely plan on keeping these cards! Unfortunately, I missed out on the 100,000 UR point bonus for Chase Sapphire Reserve (the “exclusive” Chase Sapphire card with a hefty $450 annual fee.) That would have meant 200,000 points between me and Andy- worth $3,000! Oh well, 120,000 points will still get us a nice trip.
Hack #3: Marriott Rewards Chase Credit Card. I opened this card for myself (and added Andy as an authorized user.) I’m using those points for a free weekend in St. Louis for my friend Tory’s wedding in December! It would cost us about $275 for the mid-priced hotel, so we’ll be using the money we save to explore the city. We’ll have approximately 32,000 points left after the wedding, so that will get us another weekend at a mid-priced hotel for free!
Thoughts on “hacking” Marriott Rewards by Chase: We plan to keep this one open for the foreseeable future, as we earn a certificate for a free Category 1-5 hotel with our cardmember anniversary. Since the annual fee is $85, it’s like getting a night at a good hotel for $85. You can’t beat that!
Hack in Progress: Hilton Honors Surpass Card by American Express. We chose to use this card to cover our DITY move. It does have a $75 fee, but we will also get a certificate for 1 weekend night free so again, that’s like getting a night at a good hotel for $75. We need to spend $3,000 in 3 months to get 100,000 points. Once we earn 100,000 points, that will get us a free weekend getaway! We plan to use those points to mark places off our Iowa travel bucket list! So far, we’re about halfway there!
Hack in Progress: Barclaycard ArrivalPlus MasterCard. We also opened this one for our DITY move, since AmEx is still not accepted everywhere. We haven’t really used this one, other than the few times the Hilton Honors Surpass by AmEx wasn’t accepted. I’m a little concerned we won’t spend the necessary $3,000 in 3 months to get the 50,000 bonus miles (worth a $500 travel credit) but we’ll see!
Have you ever tried travel hacking?