We have jobs that we like, paying average salaries. We have a house that we like, which is pretty average. We have two used cars, also very average.
But our travel life is pretty extraordinary.
For one thing, we go to a lot of amazing places.
But the truly extraordinary thing is: it's FREE.
Our airfare is always FREE.
Our car rental is always FREE.
Our hotels are almost always FREE. (The best so far was the 5-Star St. Regis in Florence, Italy.)
Here's where we've flown, FOR FREE, in the past few years.
Canada (2 people) 2012
Hawaii Big Island (7 people) 2013
Italy (2 people) 2014
Canada (7 people) 2015
Dominican Republic (2 people) 2016
Central Europe (2 people) 2016
Kauai (2 people) 2016
Thailand (2 people) 2017
Ireland & Scotland (2 people) 2017
Slovenia & Croatia (2 people) 2018
Within the continental US during the same time frame, we also flew for FREE to: San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Charleston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, and more.
How does this magic happen?
One man knows.
Andy Bruner is this man.
Actually, it's not magic.
It's credit card points.
You know the kind: you sign up for a new credit card, you spend a certain amount in the first three months, and they give you 50,000 bonus points.
Turns out that 50,000 points will take you quite a lot of places, especially if you collect a lot of credit cards.
Andy estimates he's amassed over a million points in the 4 years he's been collecting.
The stack on the left is current credit cards. The baggie on the right is credit cards which have yielded their points and gone on to the great cancellation in the sky.
It's important to note that WE ARE NOT IN DEBT.
Well, we have a mortgage. But that's it. No credit card debt. None.
It's important to know that using credit cards this way DOES NOT HARM YOUR CREDIT.
If you want to try it, just start slow, with one or two cards a year so you don't get overwhelmed.
If you want to scale up, Andy learned the tricks of the points trade through the following sites:
Frequent Miler (great up to date list of the best credit card offers)
1. You need very good to excellent credit score to qualify for most cards that offer a large bonus. Sign up for a free account at CreditKarma.com to check your credit score.
2. If you are able to put $1,000-$1,500 per month on a credit card that will be enough to earn bonuses on most credit card offers.
3. Travel hacking (what this system is called) will increase your credit score.
4. Keep organized with a spreadsheet. You want to know when to cancel cards so you don't pay annual fees (if there are any). It's also important to know which cards you have acquired and when you cancelled them because typically you don't want to apply for a card that you already had at some point in the past. Certain cards are churnable (you can get bonuses multiple times after a certain time period has passed) so it's important to know the date of cancellation so you can know when to apply again. (Click to download template)
5. Set a calendar reminder every month to check your spreadsheet otherwise it's useless. :-) I generally cancel cards in 11th month. Don't cancel right away after earning the bonus.
6. When cancelling a card, avoid calling the credit card company phone number. If possible, always use chat or secure message on the companies website. This will help you avoid the guilt trip they will lay on you for cancelling the card.
7. Figure out where you want to go BEFORE signing up for cards. Once you know where you want to go then find the best cards to get you there.
That's it, folks: how to have an extraordinary travel life for FREE!