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I’ve often found that when traveling becomes the topic of discussion, most people don’t travel because they believe that it has to be insanely expensive. So naturally, a question that we are often asked is “how can your family afford to travel so often?”
Excitably, we always respond “we make traveling a priority.”
Honestly, we are just regular people with regular jobs. We have bills, a mortgage, school tuition; you name it and I bet we have it. Though we would love to have a ton of money to travel with, I believe that living a normal life has forced us to become resourceful with traveling. Two of our traveling strategies include traveling during the off-season and taking advantage of travel reward programs.
**Disclaimer: Before I continue, I have to let you know that we do not carry credit card balances or debt. We use one credit card for our budgeted monthly expenses and then we pay the full balance each month. We spend and track very carefully so that we can continue to benefit from travel reward programs. I am not a financial advisor nor do I intend to give any credit or financial advice with this post. This post was written to provide an example of one of the ways to travel with the use of reward and loyalty programs.
Finding the right travel rewards programs
Before we applied for any credit cards, we sat down and made a list of all of our travel goals. We knew we wanted to do some traveling abroad and we go to New Orleans at least twice a year. Also, I have family in Southern California, and a romantic Mexican getaway has been on our bucket list since we became parents. Since not all travel rewards programs are equal, we needed a starting point. For an extensive list of air, hotel and car rental loyalty programs, visit The Point Guy.
Generally, loyalty rewards are redeemed in one of three ways—travel, statement credit and cash back, or booking through participating in airline or hotel programs. We did not want to be limited to just one method, but we weren’t really concerned with the cash back option. Three popular loyalty reward programs that do provide all three methods of redemption are: Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou
Our loyalty program wishlist:
- Direct flights to New Orleans
- Direct flights to Mexico
- Kid-friendly hotels
- Airport Club access
- No blackout dates
- Free Checked Bags
- Annual Companion passes
- Sign up bonus
- Unlimited miles that don’t expire
- No foreign transaction fees
Voted “The Best Travel Card” by CNBC, 2018, the card that met all of our needs was the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
Racking up rewards
Once our cards arrived, we set out on a mission to earn travel rewards as quickly as possible. The card we chose made this extremely easy by offering extra points for dining and shopping at partnered restaurants and businesses and triple points for partnered hotel franchises.
So as a result of our new found knowledge, guess what we did next?
We enrolled reward programs hosted by those airlines and hotels as well. We began taking advantage of flight and hotel package deals, the “stay three nights get one night free” discounts, and seasonal opportunities as well. Strategically, we stuck to the high reward earning hotels, restaurants, and shops. Before we knew it,we were racking up rewards faster than we knew it.
Redeeming our points
When it comes to redeeming our credit card travel privileges, things can get a little tricky as we try to maximize our benefits.
To get the best value for our hard earned points we use our rewards to book travel directly, exchange them
Travel Reward Cycle
In no time, we began earning rewards for trips we were taking with redeemed rewards.
Here’s an example of how we do it:
We waited until our credit card company ran a promotion to earn
We then proceeded with booking our hotel through the Expedia website as well as all of our excursions. By the end of our Phuket vacation because we’d used our credit card for everything,we’d earned a free night in a hotel and enough airline miles for a one-way airplane ticket from San Francisco to New Orleans.
Fun Fact:While this method works perfectly for us, I also would like to highlight that not all loyalty programs are through credit card companies. Online Travel Agencies (OTA) such as Expedia and Travelocity have loyalty reward programs that are free to join and allow you to make travel plans using any credit card of your choice. Whichever method of payment you choose, you still acquire rewards that are redeemable through their site.
We hope that this post has encouraged you to find the right loyalty programs for your families travel goals. If you have a rewards programs
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