I Booked $2,000 of Flights for $100. Here’s How:

It’s humbling to learn things at middle age that change your life forever.

Lambos
Driving Lambos in Rome: Summer 2017

My latest one came two years ago, when an unsuspecting staff member, Nate Samuelson changed my life when he opened my eyes to the world of credit card rewards for hotels and travel. Since then, we’ve enjoyed stays at 5 star resorts for free, snagged free flights, and also taken advantage of unique experiences such as driving a lamborghini around Rome while staying at the Waldorf Astoria. (Both for free)

Chase Dashboard 1
The Chase Dashboard. Click ‘Redeem Rewards’ to travel to partners to book free travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card

It wouldn’t be possible without the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. When you charge travel related costs to it, you’ll garner 3X points per dollar spent which you can transfer to travel partners or redeem for cash.

Chase Dashboard
Book travel with points and $, or transfer to travel partners.

After the first two months of our trip in Eastern Europe, we’re deciding to head to East Africa to visit friends, do some diving, take a safari, and volunteer at an orphanage. I was pleasantly surprised that I could use points to book at trip from Budapest to Dar Es Salaam for 30,000 points a person. Although we do get frequent flyer miles when we fly, my credit card earns many more points on a monthly basis which can then be transferred to miles which saves us money in the long run.

Details
Booking reward travel through my United Mileage Plus Account after transferring points. Here, I can snag a $650 flight for 30,000 points and $39.

Using credit cards to earn travel rewards is a game, and like any game, you have to learn how to play it. A couple of points:

  • Pay your credit card off every month and don’t run up debt as it has high interest payments. 
  • For reward travel, you’ll have to book well in advance. Dates for reward travel may start as far out as 6 months from your intended flight time. 
  • There is a $450 annual fee, but after paying this, $300 travel related expenses will be deducted from your charge, so it’s really a $150 annual fee. 
  • This comes with ‘Priority Pass’ membership which gives you access to 1000 airline lounges around the world and with that, free food and drink. 
BB
The final butcher’s bill: $119 for three one way flights.
CityPASS

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