Flying for Free – Maximizing Credit Card Points for Travel

One of my major goals for 2016 was to improve my credit and pay off my credit card debt. I did this for a number of reasons, but one of the main ones was because I wanted to qualify for a new credit card that offered travel bonuses and a substantial sign-up offer of points.

After chunking down about 60% of my credit card balance in the first few months, I was given an increase in credit on my day-to-day credit card. This lowered my overall credit usage percentage and improved my credit score at the same time.

I kept my balances low and paid them off in full each month, utilizing the cash-back feature for my Capital One Quicksilver card. This is a great starter credit card, as it doesn’t require the best credit to get approved for it, and you get decent 1.5% cash-back on all purchases. If you are able to keep your balances paid off each month, you can quickly increase your credit line and improve your credit in just a few months.

By the end of September, I had done it – both of my credit cards had a zero balance and I was in the clear!

I kept myself busy near the end of the year and then in mid-December, I came across a pretty sweet sign-up offer for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

They were offering a bonus of 100,000 points (if I spent $4,000 within the first 3 months). They also offered an annual travel credit of $300, elite travel benefits, and 3x points on food and travel. The elite travel benefits were pretty comprehensive also. Access to 900+ airport lounges around the world, car rental benefits, travel and purchase protections, and even a one time credit to cover costs of TSA Pre®  or Global Entry .

So to get a better feel for what 100,000 points gets you, for just over 60,000 points, I could fly round trip from Los Angeles to Berlin. For only 25,000 points, I could fly round trip to Detroit, or for just over 40,000 points, I could fly to Bogota and back. Basically, it will cover 3-4 domestic flights or 1-2 international flights. Pretty schnazzy right?

I applied for it and got approved, registered for my travel lounge access, and later this week I am registering for the TSA Pre®.

The only potential negative to the card is that there is a fairly pricey annual fee. In my current situation though, the benefits far outweigh the negatives and the travel credit covers over half of the fee anyway.

While there are many travel cards that offer decent benefits, Chase’s Sapphire Reserve is one that currently offers the best benefits for travelers at the moment. Which credit cards are you using for travel benefits? Let me know in the comments!

An Unexpected Twist

Finished with my final week of work and feeling fresh after a morning swim, I decided to play a game of football(soccer) with some friends this past Tuesday. It would be my last chance to see this group of friends for at least 6 months. It wasn’t a particularly great match, however it was fun up until the very end. With just over 2 minutes on the clock, I earned my team a corner kick. As I jogged over to grab the ball, I felt my ankle turn on the turf. The noise was something out of a cooking show; someone had clearly taken a handful of raw spaghetti and cracked it in half. Meanwhile, I was on the ground writhing in pain, thinking about how I was supposed to be catching a plane to Colombia in 5 days.

After an hour of X-rays and waiting, the doctor quickly entered the room. He explained that it wasn’t broken, but I had definitely sprained the tendons in my ankle. He also explained that a 4-6 week recovery is normal, and I’d have to stay off it for at least 2 weeks. After noticing my football boot was still on my good ankle, he reminisced about his own playing days and the pinnacle of his footballing experience: seeing the great Pele play for the New York Cosmos in the 80s. He showed excitement as I mentioned my plan to stop in Brazil for the World Cup this summer. Just as quickly as he entered the room, he was gone and I was on my way home to rest, ice, and elevate my ankle.

Some lovely shots of my foot healing.

Some lovely shots of my foot healing.

 

I was supposed to fly to Fort Lauderdale in order to meet up with my family in Florida during my layover. I planned to rush back to the airport afterwards to catch my flight to Bogota. After much thought, I decided to delay my trip by two weeks. The pain of my ankle would make it quite difficult to even carry my own bag. Two weeks should be enough time for me to at least begin walking again, or at least I hope so!

As I peeled one eye ungraciously open, I found that the nibble was courtesy of Mishka the cat. The squawks came from Lloyd the Cockatiel, who was perched across the room, prompting me to wake up.While I may not be leaving to Colombia today as planned, I will definitely be flying there soon! And until that time, at least I have Lloyd and Mishka to keep me company! After all, who doesn’t like a good finger nibble every once in a while!

How I Accidently Quit My Job

The last few weeks have involved a lot of planning and organizing. Selling some of my excess belongings as well as picking up some new items that will make my traveling more simple. One of those items is an iPad Mini. I uploaded some PDFs and ebooks to it and basically have taken it with me wherever I’ve gone for the past week. I think I’m addicted. xDI was at work with some extra downtime, so I pulled out my iPad and started reading one of those PDFs. My manager noticed my new piece of technology and asked me about it. I handed it to him and he started testing it out for himself.He asked me if I had sold my laptop in order to purchase the iPad. I explained that it would be perfect for my trip. He countered, “What trip?” In that second, I knew that I had spilled the beans.

The guys at work can be an intimidating bunch. (My manager - far left)

The guys at work can be an intimidating bunch. (My manager – far left)

I told him about the trip I was planning and explained that I would be resigning near the end of March. He was surprisingly understanding and seemed excited for me when I explained my trip to him. Any worries that I may have had about resigning had subsided. It was done.

Since then, I have purchased my one way plane ticket to Colombia! I have added more cities and countries to my itinerary, and plan to travel for at least the next six months. I am extremely excited! The future is here, and it looks bright!